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Q&A about credit ratings with Caroline Thomas from Experian CreditExpert

(35 Posts)
ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Oct-12 12:47:19

This week Caroline Thomas from Experian CreditExpert is returning to Mumsnet to answer your questions on credit ratings.

If you want to know what affects your credit rating and how you can improve it, advice on identity fraud or tips on how to manage your credit report to improve your chances of getting accepted for the best deals, send your questions to Caroline before the end of Monday 5 November and we'll be linking to her answers from this thread on Tuesday 13 November.

Your credit rating is not just for loans, mortgages or credit cards. Phone contracts, landlords and other providers will base decisions on it. Your credit report therefore shouldn't be something you turn to only when you're declined for a credit card or loan, it should be something you manage on an on-going basis, as part of good financial housekeeping. And with just eight weeks until Christmas, you may not be able to make sweeping changes to your credit rating, but there are some simple things you can do in that time to make it as high as possible.

New customers can sign up now for a *free 30-day trial of CreditExpert, giving you unlimited access to your Experian Credit Score, weekly alerts of changes to your credit report, web monitoring alerts and access to their customer services team. You can also get more tips at www.facebook.com/ExperianUK

*New members only. Monthly fee applies after free trial. Free trial period starts on registration - further ID verification may be required to access full service, which may take up to five days.

Mybabyseyes Tue 30-Oct-12 18:54:42

My credit rating says very good but i still can't get credit. I was refused a loan by 3 providers. I checked my credit report which is all clear. dh has bad credit, does this effect me even if it is a single application?

Mybabyseyes Tue 30-Oct-12 18:56:25

Also I have been trying to cancel my report for ages. You can never get through on the phone. Why won't you accept cancellations by email?

MmeLindor Tue 30-Oct-12 18:58:32

Hello Caroline, and welcome to MN.

We recently moved back to UK after 20 years of living abroad. To say that it has been a nightmare would be understating it. I was very close to giving up and going back to Germany.

We could not get:

a credit card
a mortgage
a mobile phone contract
an overdraft (not that we needed one)

or any kind of credit.

We were told, 'you need to have credit to get credit' but that is impossible when no one will give you credit.

The turning point was when we bought a car, and that was only possible due to the extreme tenacity of the sales manager at the car dealership who fought her credit department to get us the loan.

We were then lucky that our bank gave us a mortgage (although we had to put down a larger than usual deposit).

We did all the right things eg. got on electoral roll, paid for things via direct debit etc and now have a mortgage and a mobile phone contract. We still cannot get a credit card or an overdraft.

When we tried to register with Experian for a credit check, we found that to register we'd need a credit card, which of course we didn't have (and still don't have). I think we could have sent the application by post or something but tbh, by that point I was in tears of frustration and walked away.

I know from other returning expats that this is a common problem. During our years abroad we had a UK bank account but no credit card etc.

My question is: Why is it so bloody difficult? And is there anything that we could have done to make the process easier?

And have you any idea why our bank would give us a mortgage to buy a house but not a £100 overdraft?

Another one who woud very much like to cancel her credit report, as said above it is impossible to get through on the phone and I can't even see my report anyway as when i try to log in it says my account is locked and I need to call, you do however manage to keep taking my money every month even though I have a new card with a different expiry date on it!

noidles Wed 31-Oct-12 11:06:23

I'm getting to the point where DP and I are trying to begin to save for a deposit on a house. To do this we're doing lots of boring life admin to sort out our credit rating.

One of the credit rating issues I have is that I cancelled my O2 contract back in April. The last payment came out of my account and I then cancelled the direct debit when I saw it had left my account. For some reason the money was then taken back from O2 by my bank without me asking for my bank to do this. Without my knowledge my details were then passed on to a debt collection agency, and a mark was put on my credit file by O2 - I only owed about £15, which I then payed straight away when I realised the error.

I read that O2 can remove this marker as a goodwill gesture if you had been a loyal customer - I was with them for almost 15 years. They refused to do this, they said this wasn't ever possible.

I've also read of others in the same position who have then been refused a mortgage because of these markers - specifically by O2. I'm a little bit scared that this might happen, I don't want to lose out on getting a home because of £15.

What can I do to remove this marker? Or is there anything I can do to improve my credit rating?

notcitrus Wed 31-Oct-12 14:14:55

Why can't I access my credit report, even an edited version, for a one-off look for a one-off charge? Why does a credit reference agency insist on getting people to sign up forever even though almost no-one wants to do that (and see comments above re difficulty of cancelling - I don't even have a phone so won't sign up to any service requiring use of one!)

orangefan Wed 31-Oct-12 20:36:30

I'm interested to know if you can ever repair bad credit rating. I am with a debt management company and will be debt free in four years. Will I ever be considered a good credit risk again?

Reading with interest...Noidles I had the same thing happen to me with Orange and I emailed the CEO and was put through to the executive help team who agreed to take the mark off my file.

The CEO of O2 is Ronan Dunne, his email address is ronan.dunne@o2.com and his twitter account is twitter

Mybabyseyes Thu 01-Nov-12 06:40:04

Orange fan your credit file is cleared after 6 years. My dh has a ccj. It isn't paid but doesn't appear on his file anymore. Some people declare themselves bankrupt every 6 years and start again afresh. Not that I'm suggesting that.

noidles Thu 01-Nov-12 12:29:34

StrawberrytallCAKE WOW! That's amazing. Thanks so much for your help.

Would be good to know from Experian though what else I can do specifically to help me with my quest to get a mortgage.

maybenow Thu 01-Nov-12 14:40:57

I have always had a 'perfect' credit file. For a series of various reasons mainly due to my irregular (but healthy) freelance income I don't have any household utilities paid from my account - they all go from my husband's. I have a credit card which i pay off in full every month, and a mobile phone but that's it. Is this going to be affecting my credit rating?

DH and I are happy managing our money the way we do but we could if necessary open a joint account and move all the bill dds to that - would that help my credit rating?

SoldierKatnissEverdeen Thu 01-Nov-12 21:20:11

Hi Caroline.

I would appreciate some advice on the following:

My exp and I split 2.5yrs ago. We co-own a house together which I live in and pay the mortgage on. He has now moved to another country but has not notified any of the relevant people that he no longer lives here. In the past I have had bailiffs looking for him for non payment of car tax etc.

Following his recent holiday back in the UK, bailiff letters and telephone calls have started, from companies looking for him due to non payment. Things like his old mobile service provider, credit card company, bank etc.

There is no point talking to him about any of this, he was abusive, I stopped contact between him and dd, he doesn't pay maintenance, mortgage, any related costs etc.

But I am worried about the affect all this may have on my credit rating. I have at times not eaten in order to pay bills and keep my record clear. And I feel that he is just going to wreck it without any thought. I have contacted some of the companies to say he no longer lives here but that can be fraught with wanting his new address which I don' t have and asking for him to write a letter stating that he no longer lives here.

Even if all the companies accepted my word over the telephone, will the fact that we have a mortgage together connect our credit ratings and make mine look terrible? Is there anything I can do to protect my credit rating?

Sorry for the long ramble, hope it all makes sense.

VintageRainBoots Fri 02-Nov-12 05:23:48

We're American expats with perfect credit in the US. Experian is one of the big credit reporting agencies in the US and in the UK. Why can't our perfect US credit reports be transferred to the UK?

exexpat Fri 02-Nov-12 17:45:37

I second what MmeLindor said - as an adult in my late 30s I returned to the UK after more than a decade overseas, with bank accounts (international banks) in good standing in the UK and overseas, and substantial assets, but was unable to get a credit card for three years and was turned down for a £10/month phone contract, because the 'computer says no'.

Surely there must be some way of exchanging credit information between international financial institutions in the 21st century?

TwoIfBySea Fri 02-Nov-12 22:40:35

My exh left over 5 years ago. Thanks to his debt being linked to mine I'll never have a good credit rating again. So what is the point when I have never been tardy in payments or had a credit card or taken out a loan yet I can be held financially to ransom by an exh?

Credit ratings are just another way of sticking it to people who try their best.

(Oh and I did all the "financially distancing" thing or whatever it is called, I have notes on my credit rating thing but it doesn't matter because it is all controlled by machine and when the computer says no there are no humans able to think for themselves.)

artifarti Sat 03-Nov-12 13:41:38

I tried to get a new mobile phone, on contract, last week at Carphone Warehouse but my credit check was refused and they suggested I look at Experian; I did this and found that my score was 999, Excellent, as I thought it would be. So why would I be refused on this basis? I haven't had a loan or used a credit card in the last six years - is it true that this puts some companies off? Also, will the fact that CW refused me (for no apparent reason) now make my credit report worse? Thanks.

Hi Caroline

I had my identity stolen in 2001. I found out in 2008, after applying for a credit card. I have never had any form of credit at all. It took ages but finally was all sorted and a note was placed on my credit file.

However, I have still been unable to apply successfully for any form of credit, mobile phone, cards anything. I have been with my bank (Nat West) for over ten years and started with a junior account at that time, in April this year they changed the rules on these accounts that I can only use their cash points. So, I asked to upgrade, as did my DP. They turned me down flat due to my being a high risk. I asked if that was to do with my ID being stolen and was told yes.

Are banks and other agencies allowed to act this way to a customer? I moved from a shared house and the next person in nicked my name, got the wrong middle name and date of birth but still got allsorts of credit in this name, I was only 19 when this occurred so didn't know about change of address forms from the Post Office. I'm now 30 and feel victimised, actually, as if I wanted my identity to be stolen!

soundevenfruity Sun 04-Nov-12 10:41:07

Why does any application lowers your credit score? Considering that there are more and more services that do credit searches including utility, phone companies, morgage deals etc. Why do I need to ask them to do a quote search instead it being a default setting?

EIizaDay Sun 04-Nov-12 15:52:03

Caroline
I work in an HR dept and we regularly check candidates with experian. I wanted to check my own record and was told that if I did so it would be a black mark against me.

I assume this is incorrectg however I'd like to hear what you say about this rumour. Thank you.

EasyFromNowOn Sun 04-Nov-12 19:45:51

notcitrus you can access a copy of your credit file for £2 from each of the three agencies, it is a statutory requirement. The Experian link is here

Equifax and CallCredit will also have links on their sites, search for £2 Statutory Report, if you can't immediately see it. These are one-off reports with no ongoing subscription.

NatashaBee Sun 04-Nov-12 20:37:01

I'd heard the same thing ElizaDay, we have access to consumer credit info but it's very strictly controlled and we're not allowed to even access our own. So I'd be interested to clarify that too.

skyebluesapphire Sun 04-Nov-12 23:52:37

Im currently divorcing my husband, and wonder if his credit rating will affect mine in the future? Obviously he has his own address now, but he will now have had 3 addresses in 12 months. He has business debts. I need to know that if they search under this address for his credit, that it wont affect my credit rating.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 05-Nov-12 10:36:41

Why would an HR department check candidates? And does that go on all their files as a 'black mark'?

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Nov-12 11:16:33

Thank you for all your questions. We will forward these on to Caroline and post here once her answers are back.

notcitrus Mon 05-Nov-12 19:25:00

Thanks Easy. May actually make use of that.
Though it implies you don't get to see the credit score they calculate, without signing up for the ongoing thing.

EasyFromNowOn Tue 06-Nov-12 11:49:23

You don't notcitrus, but the credit score is a waste of time and your money. Each of the three agencies calculates their own, which can all be different as not every business reports to all three agencies. In addition, the credit score is not used by companies in deciding if you can have credit with them or not - the agencies don't report it to them, it is only sold to consumers.
What the agencies report depends on what the company in question asks for when they do a credit check but boils down to whether or not you have a credit record which corresponds with the details (name, address dob etc) provided, and do you have any defaults associated with your details. The agency do not say yes or no to credit, the company receiving the information decides if you meet their risk criteria.

EIizaDay Tue 06-Nov-12 13:36:38

Alibaba - I know! It's outrageous. It's one of these things that I'm waiting for someone (hopefully) to take the the European Court of Human Rights, along with random drug testing. Don't agree with it at all, but there we go.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 06-Nov-12 13:47:55

I am pretty shocked by that actually. Do you run the check only if you plan to offer them the job, or does it come earlier in the process?

DH has changed jobs several times over the last few years, and now works freelance. If everywhere that has invited him to interview has run a credit check, then our file will be absolutely peppered with them!

EasyFromNowOn Tue 06-Nov-12 20:49:17

Ali The company I used to work for ran these checks on prospective employees, but they were not recorded as a credit application, so would not affect potential credit worthiness. We used it as a way to confirm identity/personal details, and the checks were recorded differently on the file, although I can't remember as exactly what now. I do remember it was the same category of check that the building society did at the start of our mortgage application, before it went to a full credit check, because I remember seeing it on my file. I would expect other companies would do the same thing.

There is a difference with financial institutions, but you should be told that you will be credit screened as part of the application process.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 06-Nov-12 21:13:00

Ok, thanks for clarifying. Well nowhere has ever said it is going to credit screen/check so perhaps it is only some places that do it.

Seems a bizarre and nosy thing to do!

EasyFromNowOn Tue 06-Nov-12 22:40:23

In my experience it is only financial institutions which actually credit check, because obviously it is relevant. I know my dad, who was a commercial bank manager used to get rechecked on a regular basis, because he made me stop having any post sent to their house when I was a student and in loads of debt because it got picked up on one of his checks!

It's not really nosy because employers want to know that the person they are considering employing is who they say they are, and identity checks are one of the products offered by the CRAs. We only used to perform the ID checks on people selected for interview, so not everyone who applied. If it came back as a match, ie there was a record of them which matched the details given, then they would go forward to interview. If it did not come back as a match we would go back to confirm details and ask if there was a reason why we did not get a match. Whether they got an interview or not would depend on the answer we got.

We did also have a statement on all applications forms that we may use an external company to confirm the details provided by the applicant. I don't know if this was a requirement or not, because that part of it wasn't my job, I was just dealing with integrating the software, and writing the manuals.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Nov-12 08:41:55

Caroline's answers are now back and you can read the full Q&A here

Q&A about credit ratings with Caroline Thomas

skyebluesapphire Thu 15-Nov-12 13:01:25

Thanks, have just filed a form to disassociate myself from my ex husband, thanks to the advice given

orangefan Thu 15-Nov-12 22:46:57

Thank you for the answer, fills me with hope.

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