When you look at your credit report, you may feel like it’s written in a foreign language. What does “CIFAS” mean? What’s a public record, and why does it matter? Well, you can put away your Credit-Bureau-to-English dictionary because this guide is all you need to translate your credit report into plain English.
(Not all of these sections will necessarily be on your credit report. Your own report reflects your own credit history.)
- Profile information – These are personal details that identify you, such as your name, date of birth and current and previous addresses. This information is used to generate your report.
- Electoral roll – If you have registered to vote, it is noted here along with your recorded address.
✓ Credit Improvement Tip: Register to vote
- Aliases – This section displays any alternate names you have been known by, such as a maiden name, to ensure the report reflects your complete credit history.
- Financial associations – Financial connections are created when you open a joint account, submit joint credit applications or receive joint court judgments with another person. (Most commonly, your spouse’s name would be listed here.)
✓ Credit Improvement Tip: Request disassociation from outdated financial connections
- Public records – This section includes the details of court judgments, bankruptcies and individual voluntary arrangements.
✓ Credit Improvement Tip: Steer clear of bankruptcy and IVA
✓ Credit Improvement Tip: Pay off court judgments quickly
- Account information – The details of your credit history are described here. Any loans, credit cards or other forms of credit you’ve received from a lender are listed along with your current balance and payment history.
✓ Credit Improvement Tip: Make all credit payments on time
- Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) – Customers who have surrendered their homes or had them repossessed will see a record of the event in this section.
- Previous searches – Here you can see all the organisations that have requested your credit report (or the report of one of your financial associates) in the past 12 months.
✓ Credit Improvement Tip: Spread out credit applications over time
- Linked addresses – This section lists every address you’ve provided to a lender that has extended credit to you.
- CIFAS – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service – CIFAS is an organisation that helps protect the innocent from identity theft. Suspicious account activity is recorded here, and you cannot be denied credit for having a CIFAS entry on your report.
- Gone Away Information Network (GAIN) – This section shows up when individuals who owe money have moved without providing a forwarding address to the lender.
- Notice of correction – If desired, you can add statements to your credit report explaining why certain entries are there.
- Useful addresses – If you want to ask lenders questions about what is on your report, their contact information is listed here.
You see, it’s not too difficult to read your own credit report. By following the steps outlined above, you’ve probably become fluent in a matter of minutes!
Are you a visual person? Just download our infographic on how to read your credit report!
Experian. (2008, October). Sample report. Retrieved from http://www.experian.co.uk/downloads/consumer/mockReportOct08.pdf