Who calculates my credit score and how do search footprints affect it?

Dear James,

My question is exactly how are scores applied to a credit report - is it Experian or the financial lender? I am one of those fools who applied for credit on the assumption I was window shopping, not knowing about footprints. How is it that footprints can affect a score?

Mark, Hayes

Dear Mark,

While it is always the lender that decides which customers to accept and refuse, credit reference agencies like Experian provide some of the data (your credit report) and tools (credit scoring systems) to help them do this. Where we do build scoring systems for lenders, these reflect each lender’s own policies based on the behaviour of their past customers, so these scores are likely to differ from lender to lender. This is why you do not have a single credit rating. In terms of search footprints, only those left behind by your actual credit applications are seen by other lenders and can affect credit scoring. Other footprints, such as quotations and identity checks, simply don’t count. Credit application footprints are relevant to credit scores because they say something about your hunger for new credit. One or two are unlikely to cause you problems, but a rush of recent checks may worry prospective lenders as this is often a sign of financial stress or even fraud. The effect of any search footprints on your credit report is usually very short-lived as lenders are only usually interested in recent ones. After 12 months they drop off your credit history altogether. You can read more about search footprints in our Your credit report and previous searches factsheet. (April 2013)

James
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