We are constantly told to check our credit reports to make sure our identity has not been stolen and fraudulent accounts are not being used. However, there is a flip side to this in that sometimes real credit accounts are not showing up on the credit report. This can be just as bad as you are working hard to build up your good credit but are not getting credit for these accounts. What can you do?
In the United Kingdom, consumers are able to obtain a report from one of three agencies: Experian, Equifax, and CallCredit. There are some services that will allow you to get a free credit report from one of these, but you are much better served to pull a report from all three agencies once a quarter at the very least, even if you have to pay for the reports.
The reason for this is that at any given time, one credit agency may be missing something on your report. The company may be behind in updating the report or for some reason, it was never made aware of the new creditor on your account. If you have all three, which most lending institutions will check with before approving financing, you can compare and ensure they are all accurate.
If you find inaccuracies on the report, you will need to contact the agency in writing as to the error. This can usually be done via the Internet. If this is not possible, make copies of the other agency reports and include a letter explaining the problem. Including the other reports helps verify what you are saying and will make it much easier for the agency to rectify your records.
When checking the reports, it is also important to make sure the balances are correct for each creditor. While they may be a month or two behind, the balances reflected should be reasonably close, meaning within one or two payments of the actual debt owed. You will get a better feel for how often they update their reports after you check a few times. This is especially important if you plan on obtaining financing in the near future, as you do not want your debt ratio to be too high.
You should also check the personal history on your credit report to ensure its accuracy. Today, quite a few employers will pull a credit report on a potential employee during the interviewing stage. If the address or personal information is incorrect, it could be cause for concern. For instance, they may look to see you if your housing situation has been stable over the last few years. They may interpret a constant change of address as instability and it could raise concerns.
Checking your credit report on a regular basis is important for various reasons, including accuracy and fraud. If you are hesitant to do so because you believe it will leave a hard inquiry on your record, don’t be, as checking your own report is a soft inquiry and will not show up on the report or affect your overall rating. Just be sure to check all three reports at least once a quarter so you know your credit report reflects your financial situation at the current time.