Who can see your credit report?
The first thing to know is that in our information-rich, everything-at-your-fingertips world, the data on your credit report is held securely by credit reference agencies like Experian. Companies can only see this data if they have a legitimate reason (e.g. you’ve applied for a mortgage with them).
Companies that may look at some of the data on your report include:
For example, if you apply for a new bank account, the bank will check information on your credit report to confirm your identity. They may also want to see your financial behaviour to assess the risk of having you as a customer.
- Mortgage providers
As part of the application process, mortgage providers will check information from your credit report – as well as from your application form, and from their own records if you’ve been a customer before. This helps them decide if you’re capable of making regular mortgage repayments, and whether you’re a reliable borrower.
- Creditors and lenders
If you apply for a new credit card or loan, the lender will search your credit report to understand how well you’ve managed credit in the past. This helps them decide whether to lend to you or not. They may also use information on your report to decide how much you can borrow and at what interest rate.
- Potential employers
Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, certain prospective employers might ask to see some information from your credit report as part of their screening process. This could be, for example, if you’re applying for a job where you’ll be handling large amounts of money, or where you’ll have a high level of responsibility.
It’s worth noting that you can always refuse a potential employer access to your credit report, but this may of course reduce your chances of getting the job!
- Utility and service companies
Utility and service companies – such as gas, water and electricity providers – usually charge in arrears. In other words, you’ll receive a bill for something they’ve already provided, not something they’re going to provide in the future. That means you’re using a form of credit with them. So, when setting up a new utility or service, these companies will search your report to see how you’ve managed previous credit. If you have a history of late payments, they may put you on a prepay account instead, like a key meter.
- Mobile phone companies
Much like utility and service companies, mobile phone contractors may want to check your credit report before offering you a pay monthly deal as part of their contract terms.
- Letting agents and landlords
If you’re looking to rent property, the letting agent or landlord may ask to check basic information on your credit report. This can help them confirm your identity and decide if you’ll pay your rent on time.
- Debt collection agencies
If you’ve taken out credit in the past, such as a credit card or loan, you will have agreed to allow the lender to check information from your credit report.
If your loan is passed on to a debt collection agency, this consent stays with the debt. That gives the debt collectors the right to search your credit report to assess your overall financial situation and make appropriate decisions about how to collect the outstanding balance.
- Government agencies
In some specific cases, government agencies can also check information on your credit report. For example, this could be to determine child support payments or to process an application for certain licences.
- Insurance companies
When you apply for insurance, for example for your home or car, the insurance companies will want to check your credit history to decide whether they should insure you and at what rate. A history of late payments or significant debt may mean you have to pay higher premiums.
Who controls access to your credit report?
You have three main credit reports – one with each of the three credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK: Experian, Equifax and CallCredit.
These credit reference agencies collect data about your credit history, along with other relevant information, and use it to create a credit report. This information comes from a range of sources, such as public records and lenders. Note that companies may share different types of information, and they might not share the same information with all three CRAs.
Each credit reference agency creates its own credit report, so the information each one holds may be different.
What information do lenders see on your credit report?
Your credit report includes things like:
- Your full name and date of birth
- Your electoral roll information (i.e. whether you’re registered to vote at your current address)
- A list of your current credit accounts, as well as those you’ve closed and settled within the last six years. This information includes the credit limit or loan amount and the outstanding balance on each account, including mortgages
- Any current account overdrafts you may have
- Details about your financial behaviour, such as whether you’ve made late payments or missed payments altogether, and how many times that’s happened
- Details of any hard credit checks lenders have carried out, e.g. because you applied for credit, along with the dates of those checks. It also includes soft credit checks, but only you can see these
- Financial associations and links with other people – for example if you have a joint bank account or mortgage with someone
- Any public information records held against your name such as County Court Judgments (CCJs), Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) or bankruptcies in the last six years
- Details on whether you’ve ever been a victim of fraud through a Cifas notification
Just in case you’re wondering, your credit report doesn’t include things like your salary, savings, criminal record, medical history, student loans or council tax arrears.
How can you see what’s on your credit report?
You can check your credit report by visiting the website of each credit reference agency. Your statutory credit report is a one-off copy, which you can receive in digital format or on paper.
You can also sign up for a CreditExpert paid subscription, which gives you unlimited access to your Experian Credit Report, credit report alerts, personalised tips on how you may be able to improve your score, and more. It starts with a 30-day trial if you’re a new customer.
Creating a free Experian account will let you check your Experian Credit Score without paying a penny. Your score is based on information in your report, and reflects your chances of getting approved for credit – the higher it is, the better your chances.