Credit Reference Agencies

What is a credit reference agency?

Credit reference agencies are organisations that collect and store financial information about almost every adult in the UK.

Who are the credit reference agencies

Callcredit LtdExperianEquifax
Consumer Services
PO Box 491
Leeds
LS3 1WZ
Talbot House
Talbot Street
Nottingham
NG8 1TH
Credit File Advice Centre
PO Box 1140
Bradford
BD1 5US

These are the three credit reference agencies in the UK, each will let you request your credit file online or by post.

Where do credit reference agencies get the information?

The agencies get their information from lending institutions and organisations around the country. It’s up to the organisations themselves as to which agency they supply their information to, although credit reference agencies do tend to share information.

What do credit reference agencies do with the information?

The information each agency collects is collated and then supplied back to lenders and other organisations to help them in establishing an individual’s identity, credit history and current credit commitments. The information also allows lenders to confirm the address provided by an applicant to help prevent fraud.

Do credit reference agencies blacklist people?

In a word – no.

The blacklist theory has been around for years, their is no such thing as a credit blacklist, a lender will either accept you as a client based on your credit file, credit score and other criteria or they will not. The agencies have no say in who will or will not get credit – they simply store the information which can help lenders assess an application and help reduce fraud.

What is a credit score?

The information on your credit report, together with the information you provide on a credit application form could be used to build a credit score. This is a rating that could be used to identify the risk associated in offering you credit, and is not affected by gender, race etc. There is no single format for working out a credit score – different lenders take different factors into account when building their score, although as systems become more integrated the scores should become more uniform.

It may be interesting to note that some lenders use credit scores and some lenders don’t. If you know you have a low credit score you may want to approach a lender who does not use credit scoring.

The problem with having 3 different credit reference agencies

It may interest you to know that no one credit agency holds a complete list of information – problems may arise when applying for finance such as a mortgage or remortgage.

For example:

You request your credit report from agency ‘A’, and submit an application based on that report – the lender uses credit reference agency ‘C’ , their report has something listed which was not on agency ‘A’s report. This does sometimes happen, although with modern technology it tends to be less frequent than it used to be.

Should you apply for a credit report from each agency? – this would cure the problem but it’s costly and if you have never seen a credit report before they can be awkward to read (and you would have 3 of them).

There are companies that offer free credit reports and credit scores, such as Noddle and ClearScore.

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