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What is a credit report?

A credit report contains all the information held on an indvidual at their address(es) by the Credit Reference Agency. Lenders use the information it contains to decide whether to give you credit.

If you’re over 18 and have ever taken out a loan, credit card or mobile phone contract, a credit reference agency like TransUnion likely holds a copy of your credit report. It’s important to monitor your financial activity, so checking your report regularly is a good idea.

Think of your credit report as a kind of financial passport that includes your financial history and credit activity.

Your credit report will provide the following information:

  • Account information — This is a record of your past and current credit accounts, and whether you’ve made payments on time and in full. Being late or missing a payment will stay on your credit report for six years. The same is true for county court judgments and bankruptcies.
  • Your current and previous addresses — Whether or not you’re awarded credit can be influenced by your presence on the electoral register as it provides proof of address, so make sure your current and previous addresses are correct.
  • Your financial connections — Any person you’re financially connected to will appear on your credit report, such as those with whom you have a joint bank account, or taken out a loan or mortgage with. When lenders assess your credit history, they may also look at your financial associates’ credit histories, as they may affect your ability to repay money you borrow.

People with a good credit history are more likely to be given credit and offered higher credit limits and lower interest rates. A bad credit history may lead to your application being declined.

Rest assured, your credit report will never contain sensitive personal information, such as race, religion, sexuality, political beliefs or medical history.

Lenders refer to your credit report in a range of different situations. For example, they may refer to your credit report when you apply for:

  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Mobile phone and some utility contracts

That’s why it’s important to regularly check your credit report activity and ensure all the information on your report is accurate.

Lenders can also use your credit report to help decide what your credit limit should be, which they may review on a regular basis. For example, if there are signs that you are experiencing financial difficulties the lender may consider reducing your credit limit.

You can access your statutory credit report – online or by post to make sure there’s nothing stopping you from being accepted for credit. Even if you’re not applying for credit right now, checking your credit report regularly will help to identify fraudulent activity.