How do I check if I have Bad Credit?
If you feel uncertain that your credit score will stand up to scrutiny, then there are now a number of methods to check it. In fact, it’s never been easier to check your credit score – in recent years, several companies offering simple ways to check your credit rating using mobile apps or websites have taken out advertising on radio and TV. These can be attractive options, as their services are free, but be careful not to feel pressured into taking up a paid subscription that you will not really use.
Traditionally, you were able to check your credit report yourself by applying to the three main UK credit agencies for copies of your reports. TransUnion, Equifax and Experian all compile data from various sources to generate a review of your credit history, which comes with a numerical score – each of these agencies operates their own way of scoring, so it’s advisable to check all three to get the whole picture and spot any inconsistencies. In the past, they charged a small £2 fee and sent material by post, but since GDPR legislation came into place in 2018, allowing people to access data held about them by third parties, this service is now free and entirely online.
To save time, you could use a service called CheckMyFile to request reports from all three agencies at once. It’s available on a free trial initially, so remember to cancel your subscription promptly to avoid shifting onto their paid service after running the checks you need.
Your credit report should contain your personal information, whether you are on the electoral register, details about any financial links to other individuals, a list of your credit accounts with information regarding any adverse events (missed or late payments, defaults, etc.) and any searches made against you in the last twelve months. If you do spot any errors on your credit reports, you should immediately contact the agency in writing to request for it to be amended, providing documentation to support your case.
It’s worth remembering that while a lender running a credit check on you will get recorded on your credit file (and potentially act as a red flag to other lenders, if you apply to more than one in a short space of time), checking your own credit records will have no impact on your score at all. Once done, you should be armed with all the information you need to take the next steps to repair any bad credit issues and maintain a positive credit history going forward.