UK credit score checklist for September 2023
Follow our free step-by-step checklist to help you keep track of your credit score and report.
Keeping a regular eye on your credit report is important. As well as helping you to assess how likely you are to be accepted for credit in the future, checking your credit report will help you to spot if it contains any mistakes or if you’ve been a victim of identity theft or fraud.
Checking your credit report and ensuring your credit score is the best it can be can help you to secure the best interest rates on loans, mortgage and credit cards in the future. That’s why we’ve put together this handy checklist so that you know what to look for. It’s sensible to use this checklist and check your credit report once a month if you can.
1. Personal information
What to check: As a first step, it’s important to ensure your personal information, including your full name, date of birth and address history, is correct. Your report might include any other names you’ve used in the past, such as your maiden name, so make sure these are correct too.
Information such as your address is used to help identify you, so even slight errors can affect your chances of getting credit.
Action to take: If you spot any mistakes in your personal information, or if any previous addresses are missing, you should contact the relevant credit reference agency as soon as possible to get the mistake corrected or the address added in.
2. Credit searches
What to check: Be sure to check whether all the soft and hard searches recorded on your credit file are recognisable. Soft searches are carried out whenever you use an eligibility checker (before taking out a loan or credit card, for example) and whenever you check your credit report. However, soft searches can only be seen by you, usually for 12 months, and have no impact on your credit score.
Hard searches, on the other hand, are carried out whenever you apply for credit in full. This is when a lender takes a full look at your credit report and score and the process leaves a mark on your credit file for other lenders to see. Most hard searches stay on your credit file for 12 months, although if a debt collector runs a search on your credit file, this will stay on your report for 2 years.
Because they can affect your credit history, it’s important to closely check your hard searches and make sure they’re correct. Too many hard searches in a short space of time can make you look desperate for credit and deter lenders from letting you borrow. If you spot a hard search you don’t recognise, it could suggest you have an error on your account or it could be a sign of fraud.
Action to take: If you spot a problem, contact the named lender straightaway to find out if it’s a mistake. If the lender says it’s not and you still think the hard search is wrong, you’ll need to raise a dispute with the credit reference agency by contacting them directly. If you think the search might be fraudulent, you’ll need to get in touch with Action Fraud to explain the situation and they can guide you through the next steps.
3. Credit accounts
What to check: You should also check whether all the credit accounts listed on your credit report are accurate. These include current accounts with an overdraft and credit card accounts, as well as other credit agreements like loans, mortgages, utility bills and mobile phone bills.
Make sure all the relevant accounts have been recorded and belong to you. All credit accounts can have an impact on your credit score, so if one is missing and you’ve kept up with your repayments, you won’t be benefiting from any possible increase in your credit score. On the other hand, if there’s an account on your credit report that you don’t recognise, this could be having a negative impact on your credit report if payments aren’t being met.
Action to take: If you spot an account that’s missing or an account that doesn’t belong to you, you’ll need to get in touch with the lender to find out whether a mistake has been made. If so, they will need to update your records so that your credit report can be corrected.
If the lender says no mistake has been made, you’ll need to raise a dispute with the credit reference agency by contacting them directly.
4. Financial associations
What to check: Make sure any financial associations you have on your credit report are still correct. Financial associations are created when you open a joint account with someone – for example, if you take out a joint loan or a joint mortgage. If your credit file is linked to someone else’s, this will show up on your credit record. When you apply for credit, companies might check your partner’s credit history to help them decide whether to approve you. If your partner has poor credit, you could be turned away, even if your own credit rating is good.
For this reason, it pays to make sure your financial associations are correct. If you’ve recently closed your joint account, it’s important to ensure your credit report reflects this and shows that you’re no longer financially linked.
Action to take: If you spot any old financial associations, you can ask the credit reference agency to get them removed from your credit report. You’ll need to get in touch with the relevant credit reference agency and provide proof that your financial connection has ended. In some cases, if you’ve divorced your partner but you still share a mortgage, the credit reference agency might be able to break the association between you if you’ve been living apart for 6 months or more. However, you’ll need to close any other shared accounts, such as a joint bank account.
5. Payment history
What to check: You’ll also need to ensure your payment history is correct. This will show when you’ve paid your bills and whether you’ve paid in full or in part. Any missed or late payments or defaults will also be recorded on your file, where they can stay for 6 years.
Action to take: Any incorrect information can affect your credit score, so it’s important to contact the lender as soon as possible to see if an error has been made. If the lender’s records are correct, you’ll need to raise a dispute with the credit reference agency.
6. Public record information
What to check: It’s also important to check whether there is any record on your credit file of individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), debt relief orders (DROs) or bankruptcy, as well as whether you’ve had any home repossessions or county court judgments (CCJs). These stay on your credit report for at least 6 years so its important to make sure all details about them are correct.
Action to take: If you spot any incorrect information, contact the lender directly. If the issue can’t be resolved, you’ll need to raise a dispute with the credit reference agency.
How to correct mistakes on your credit report
If you’ve found a mistake on your credit report, your first step should be to contact the bank or credit card company in question. Make sure you have evidence to hand to show that a mistake has been made, whether that’s a bank statement or receipt.
If the lender agrees a mistake has been made, they will need to update their records within one month and update the credit reference agency too.
On the other hand, if the lender says everything is correct, you will need to speak to the credit reference agency directly. The mistake will be investigated and the agency will contact the relevant lender to verify your claim. If you’re found to be right, your report will be amended.
However, if your claim isn’t accepted, you can add a notice of correction to your report. This is a 200-word statement outlining your side of the story. For example, you could use it to explain that you fell behind with your loan repayments because you lost your job. It won’t benefit your credit score, but future lenders might take your notice of correction into account when considering whether to let you borrow.
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