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Debt and Credit Scoring

A Guide To Some Practical Ways To Improve Your Credit Score or Rating

  • Make sure you are listed on the Electoral Roll; credit reference agencies want to be able to track your addresses.  If they cannot your rating will dip significantly.
  • Pay your credit bills on time.  Setting up Direct Debits to pay the minimum payment on your credit cards and store cards will prevent forgetting and paying late as so many of us do from time to time. If you want to make overpayments do it via bill payments or on your debit card over the phone.  Missed payments are classed as 'late payments' if less than 31 days old and 'defaults' if over one month old.  These will affect your credit rating.
  • Pay your council tax and mobile phone bill on time.  These are the two of the most common ways people damage their credit ratings. Direct Debits are again very helpful for busy people who could otherwise forget.
  • Check no-one is using your identity.  See that there are no suspicious 'footprints' on your file as someone could be purporting to gain credit in your name. What are credit 'Footprints'? Some lenders do what are called 'soft' footprints which is where they will look at your credit rating without actually credit scoring you. Other lenders will leave a 'hard' footprint - an actual credit checking exercise that will show on your credit file. 
  • Be careful how often you apply for credit. More than three credit searches in three months might make your credit score 'dip'.  More than six credit searches in twelve months could cause a significant reduction in your credit rating.
  • Financial Associations. Your credit report links you to anyone that you have a joint mortgage, bank account, loan or credit card with.  If their credit history is not good it will impact on you.  Ensure that if you have split from a former partner or spouse that the 'financial association' linking you together is taken off your file. If they have a bad credit history your ability to get credit reduces. The credit reference agencies have information on filing “Notices of Disassociation” on their websites.
  • If you have genuinely had a CCJ put on your file in error you can apply to have it removed in court.   
  • Be aware of unscrupulous financial brokers who 'tout' your details around a variety of lenders when trying to place a loan or mortgage for you. I had an instance last year where a client's credit file was ruined because a broker had tried a variety of lenders who had between them left fifteen footprints on his file over a six week period. If your broker knows what they are doing they will do all the required research and ascertain which is the best lender to suit your needs before asking the lender to run the credit search.
  • It takes a minimum of six months to start repairing your credit history and footprints can stay on your file for up to six years. If you want to have them removed you need to contact the lender directly with a valid reason for requesting their removal.
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