It is evidently not a good thing to have a bad credit rating. For example, it can limit your borrowing options. The sorts of thing that contributes to a poor credit rating are county court judgments, defaults on payments and bankcruptcy orders. In the case of circumstances such as these, the only way to get credit (loans, mortgages) is through the sub-prime market. Here the borrower is charged high rates of interest to reflect the apparent risk to the lender.
There are two main credit reference agencies who compile credit histories on individuals. These are Equifax and Experian. They take their information from sources such as the electoral roll, county court judgments and the payment of past debts. When anyone takes out a new form of credit it will leave a record which these credit agencies also draw upon. But it is not the credit agencies who make the decision about whether to offer credit to would-be borrowers. It is the lender who makes that decision, based on the information provided by the credit agencies and their own lending criteria.
Under the Data Protection Act, if a lender refuses you credit, it must tell you why. Under the Act, if scoring was used to help the lender decide not to give you credit, then you are entitled to ask for you application to be reviewed. Even it this doesn’t help you to get credit this time, you will be able to see your rating and where it might need improvement. Or it can highlight errors that may be on your record (and they do happen) and you can try to get them rectified.
If you do have a poor credit rating, it is a good thing to work to make it better. Although bankcruptcy remains on a rating for up to six years, a year of good credit practice should return a rating to a healthy state.
begin with, you should ensure that you pay off your creditors on time. If you do have to miss a payment, tell the creditor and make sure that you make the payment the following month.
Even simple things like making sure you are on the electoral role and completing credit application forms correctly will help to improve your rating. Agencies allow people to explain why they may have had a poor credit performance, and a ‘notice of correction’ can be attached to their report explaining, for example, whey they missed payments.
It is worth buying access to your credit history from one of the agencies to make sure that everything is in order. As an example, if you have had a county court judgment, but have since paid the debt, make sure the payment is recorded on the file. If you have had a bankcruptcy order annulled, make sure a copy of the annulment or order of discharge is sent to credit agencies.
Another way of boosting your rating is to take out a store card and pay off the balance regularly and on time. The rating can be improved quickly by opening a variety of accounts, but make sure you do pay off the debt each month. You can also ask someone you know well (family or friend) with good credit history to co-sign for a small loan or credit card. This also helps your own rating.
It is a bad idea to keep applying for credit if you have already been refused by another lender. A lot of searches on history does not work in your favour. The tip is to ask the lender if you fir the profile of people they give credit to.
Having no credit record can be as bad as having a poor credit record. So if you have no credit record, start to build one up – a good one.