Do joint utility bills link up people’s credit histories?

Dear James,

You've answered a number of questions which explain that sharing a house (e.g. renting together) with someone doesn't automatically link you to them financially, but sharing, for example, a bank account would. Does being jointly named on a utility bill affect the credit ratings of all those named if you miss a payment?

Sarah, Oxford

Dear Sarah,

This is a good question, particularly as more and more utility companies are sharing information through the credit reference agencies. While joint accounts do generally link up credit reports, utility firms recognise that such relationships do not always represent a ‘financial unit’ in the traditional sense. So what most will do is only register a financial link where they believe the account holders are living together as a couple. If you want to be sure of the policy of any particular provider your best bet is to ask them. Of course, if the joint account has already been set up, a copy of your credit report will tell you whether this has created any financial links. (November 2012)

James
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