Experian expert, Joe Green, answers your credit-relatted questions
I had a bank card stolen a few months ago and, after finding out I was a victim of fraud, my bank account was shut down. I am really worried how this will affect my credit report, especially if I apply for a mortgage in the future. Will this activity show up on my credit report and affect my future credit offers?
Closing down your bank account to ensure no more fraudulent transactions can happen is a very sensible place to start. What you should do now is obtain copies of your credit reports from each of the three credit reference agencies. This will enable you to check the full extent of any damage caused by the fraudster. If you do find any suspicious information on your credit report, then you need to contact one of the credit reference agencies to get this investigated and removed. I’m pleased to say that all three credit reference agencies work together to help victims of identity fraud and will alert the other two agencies for you, so you only need to initially contact one of them. If you wish to contact Experian, simply call us on 0344 481 8000.
Each agency will provide you with a free credit report, give you guidance on its contents and explain the measures you may be able to take to secure your identity. For instance, it might be wise to arrange a Cifas Protective Registration, which will alert the vast majority of banks, lenders and other financial institutions to the theft of your identity. Once you’ve shored up your identity, if you decide you want to monitor your Experian Credit Report for fraud going forward, you may wish to check our fraud monitoring services.
I have been living in the UK for the last four years with my partner and our daughter, and we have recently decided we want to move from rented accommodation and buy a house.
I am worried, however, that I won’t have much credit history in this country as all my bank accounts and loans have been overseas. Should I get a credit report or will this further affect my applications for a mortgage?
You’ll be pleased to hear that you can actually check your own credit report as often as you like, without any impact on your credit score whatsoever. While every check of your report creates a search footprint, only the footprints left behind by actual credit applications are seen by lenders and affect your credit score. Footprints created by other events, such as checking your own report, you asking for a credit or insurance quote, or having your identity checked using your report, simply won’t count.
Before lending money to you, lenders will be looking for evidence that, amongst other things, you are going to repay any money lent to you as agreed with them. Not having any history of repaying credit that has been lent to you in the past can be a cause for concern, especially if the amount of money you would be hoping to borrow is large. By checking your credit report, you’ll be able to see what accounts are registered on there and it will give you an idea of whether you need to improve the picture it paints for future mortgage lenders before you apply. You might not realise that services such as mobile phone contracts, some utility bills and even your overdraft all count as credit so you might have more positive information than you think. If you do find that your credit report has very little information, you do have a number of options that may help. Registering on the electoral roll is a good place to start. A well-managed credit card could also help you to rebuild a positive credit history. Before too long, you will start building up a picture of positive credit management that will better support a mortgage application. This could help you not only get approved, but be eligible for the best deals.
Council tax exemption
When I was at university, there was a mistake with my council tax exemption and I ended up getting a county court judgment against me. I know these can show up on credit reports, but I am hoping to buy my first home in the future, so is there a way that I can get this removed from my credit report?
Unless you repaid the full amount of the County Court Judgment (CCJ) within a month of it being issued, the information will stay on your credit report for six years. If you weren’t able to do this, the judgment is likely to impact lending decisions of any credit applications you make in the near future. A satisfied judgment does look better than an outstanding one but, realistically, neither will be helpful in your mortgage application. As the judgment ages, your credit score should improve, as long as you manage your existing credit commitments well. That being said, you haven’t given any details of how long ago you were issued with the CCJ, so if it was more than six years ago, this will have completely disappeared from your credit report and therefore won’t cause you a problem when you do apply for a mortgage.
To put your mind at ease, you may want to obtain a copy of your credit report to see whether the CCJ is still recorded on there. It may also give you an opportunity to see whether there’s any scope for improving your credit history, to give you the best chance of securing a mortgage deal.
If you want help understanding how credit referencing works and how to improve your chances of getting a mortgage, visit experian.co.uk/consumer/guides/mortgage-application