Why checking your credit report is important
If you want to improve or maintain your credit rating — or if you’re looking to get the best deals whenever you apply for credit — you need to be checking your credit report regularly.
This is because lenders use the details in your credit file to decide if you’re a reliable credit candidate. If any of this information is wrong, they might not have confidence in accepting you for credit, which can have a damaging effect on your credit rating.
Checking your credit report is a great way to identify any inaccuracies before they become a major problem.
What should you be checking on your credit report?
It’s all well and good checking your credit report, but unless you know what to look for, you might miss some important parts.
Sometimes, credit reports contain what is known as “mixed files”. This is where information from someone with the same or similar name mixes with yours. Checking your credit report is a great way to make sure the details on the report are about you.
Here’s what else you should check.
Check your personal details
This includes your full name, your date of birth, and your current address. Being on the electoral register is great for verifying your current address. It also lets lenders confirm you are who you say you are.
Check your linked addresses
Linked addresses are created when a lender provides a new address for you. This will usually be a previous address of yours.
You should be checking your credit report has the correct linked addresses for you. If it doesn’t, it would suggest lenders haven’t had the right details for you, and have been passing incorrect information over to credit reference agencies.
Check your credit searches
You should be checking your credit report for any credit searches. These are the searches lenders carry out on your credit file when you apply for credit, to help them decide if you’re a good candidate.
If there are any you’re not aware of — or any searches that you didn’t carry out — it could be a sign that someone has tried to apply for credit in your name (more below).
It’s also worth noting the difference between soft searches and hard searches on your credit report.
Soft searches aren’t anything to be worried about; they’re usually carried out by lenders or comparison sites when you check your eligibility for a credit card or a loan, to get an idea of your trustworthiness. The lender will only look at small details in your credit data file.
Hard searches, however, are carried out by lenders when you complete an application for a credit product. They will take a complete look at your credit data to decide whether to accept you, and these hard searches are visible to other lenders.
You should be checking your credit report for hard searches at least once a month, to make sure no one is applying for credit in your name.
This is also important if you want to protect your likelihood of being accepted for credit. Since hard searches are visible to lenders, they might think you’re desperate for credit if they see a lot of them carried out in a short period of time.
So, if someone is applying for credit in your name, it could be having a damaging effect on your ability to get credit for your own use.
Check for signs of fraud
Checking your credit report is a great way to spot fraudulent activity in your name.
For example, you can check your credit report and see any credit accounts that have been opened. If there are any you don’t recognise or any you didn’t open yourself, you’ll be able to raise a dispute directly from your Free Credit Report — before the problem gets out of hand.
How can I check my credit report?
Simply sign up for your Free Credit Report with TotallyMoney to know more about your financial situation. It’s completely free, only takes a couple of minutes, and won’t damage your credit rating.
It doesn’t stop at your Free Credit Report, either. You’ll get your live credit score, which is updated each time you log in, as well as Borrowing Power: one number to show how likely to you are to get the credit you’re looking for.
We’ll also let you know each month once we’ve updated your report, to make checking your credit report even easier.
If you’d like to learn more about credit scores, read our guide: ‘What is a credit score?’