A Credit Reference Agency holds details of an individual’s credit history at their addresses.
Local authorities, courts, and credit providers share information with Credit Referencing Agencies for the purpose of promoting responsible lending, supporting debt recovery, and to prevent over indebtedness and fraud.
For example, when you make an application for credit, the credit provider will approach a credit reference agency for information about your history with credit, to help them verify you are who you say you are and make a fair and responsible lending decision.
In the UK there are three main credit reference agencies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
They work with building societies, banks, mobile phone companies and other major retailers to help those businesses make a quick and accurate decision about whether the person applying for credit is likely to pay it back.
No – Credit Reference Agencies do not decide whether you are to be given credit. That is the lender’s decision.
Credit Reference Agencies are independent organisations who are data custodians for credit referencing purposes, they play no part in the actual decision-making process and the information they hold is entirely factual – with no opinions about it expressed.
A credit report is a record of your personal credit history consisting of information from local authorities, courts, and credit providers – think of it as your financial passport. It shows the maximum amount of information retrieved by an organisation performing a search against your credit file with TransUnion.
If you’re over 18 and have ever taken out a loan, credit card or mobile phone contract, then you will have a credit report. It’s important to check your credit report regularly to keep an eye on your financial activity.
Your Aqua Credit Checker report provides you with online visibility of the credit report held on you by TransUnion. This includes:
- Any financial account performance information TransUnion holds on you over a 6-year period; this includes closed accounts
- Your presence on the Electoral Register
- Any financial connections; such as the names of the associates you share finances with, and other names or addresses you’ve used to take out financial products against.
- Cifas data; Cifas are a not-for-profit organisation which helps to protect its members from the actions of criminals by informing Credit Reference Agencies of any fraudulent activity, which in turn prompts additional security checks.
- Notices of Correction: This is a statement of your choosing which can be added to your credit file to explain your financial situation. It can be no longer than 200 words, must be relevant to the information on your credit report, must not be frivolous, defamatory, or libellous, can’t name a third part, can’t apportion blame, and can’t contain confidential information.
- Notices of dispute: If you are disputing the accuracy of some information within your credit report a notice of dispute will appear next to the relevant area.
There are many factors that affect how financially attractive you are when attempting to get the best credit deals and offers. So, if you want to improve you credit rating and score, learning what factors affect it is a good place to start.
With the above in mind, please see below details of areas which could be having the biggest impact on your overall score:
- Your financial account performance history
By ensuring that you maintain your payments and steer clear of credit limits, you can start to build up a good credit history. This will demonstrate to a potential credit provider that you can responsibly borrow money and afford to pay it back.
- Judgments, bankruptcies and insolvencies
Records of judgments and insolvencies stay on your credit file for up to 6 years (and in some instances longer!).
Lenders will consider you a higher risk as you’ve been unable to meet your past credit commitments in the past. If you have been unable to repay your debts once, you may be unable to repay them again.
- People you are financially linked to
Whilst people you’re financial connected to won’t have an impact on your credit score, they can have an influence on your ability to obtain credit if their connection to you leads to negative information.
Make sure you regularly check your credit report to ensure all your financial associates are still relevant, and if not please raise a dispute to disassociate from them to avoid their influence on any credit applications you make in the future.
Rest assured, just living with someone doesn’t create a financial connection. You need to have a joint loan, mortgage or bank account to create financial links.
- Being on the Electoral Register
Being on the Electoral Register is an easy way to make lenders aware that you are at a stable address history and can therefore be contacted for any money owed. If you are not already on the Electoral Register, you can be added via: www.yourvotematters.co.uk
Put simply, your credit score is our numerical interpretation of your credit worthiness and is calculated based on a complex combination of all the information we hold on your credit report over a 6-year period.
Credit providers will make their own assessment of your credit worthiness based on how your credit history meets their lending criteria, but generally speaking the higher your credit score the more likely you are to be accepted for the best credit deals and interest rates.
Aqua Credit Checker will monitor your Credit report each month and alert you via email to any changes which have had a significant impact to your credit score.
Your Aqua Credit Checker report is refreshed every 28 days to display any new information we’ve received. We receive new information from your lenders, local authority, and courts every 4-6 weeks, which means it can take up to 10 weeks for information to be displayed on your credit report, with some exceptions:
- If you have our Credit Monitoring Alerts service as part of your Aqua Credit Checker subscription, your report will also refresh when you log in after receiving one of our Alert notifications that a change has occurred.
- If you have raised a dispute and is completed successfully or the information attached to the dispute has been suppressed, your report will refresh automatically to display the changes for your reference.
Your credit report refreshes every 28 days so you should keep checking it regularly to ensure that the data in it is accurate.
Searches are the footprints left behind by anyone who has visited your credit report. They exist to say who, what, when, and why your credit report was viewed, each time it’s viewed a new footprint will appear.
Search footprints are not permanent and will disappear from your report automatically after 2 years. Searches can only be carried out on your credit file with your permission, which is usually applied and granted in the terms and conditions of a new service or product you are using or making an application for.
There are lots of different reasons why your credit report may have been viewed; such as assessing your credit worthiness following an application for credit you’ve made, performing anti-fraud checks as well as verifying you are who you say you are or providing you with quotes for the best deals.
If you do not recognise the name of an organisation who has performed a search on your credit file, the organisation in question might be part of a wider business group and therefore displays a different company name to the one you are expecting to see (e.g. a credit search performed for an ‘Argos’ store card would show up on your search history as ‘Home Retail Group’, as it is this company who would supply the credit. Likewise, if you searched for an insurance quote using a comparison site, the search may show a Group or partner company name.
The length of time information is retained on your report can vary depending on what type of data it is, for example:
· Account performance data (Credit cards, mortgages, loans etc.) will stay on your credit file for 6 years from the date they are closed and settled. Or, where an account has fallen into default, 6 years from the date of default.
· Judgments, bankruptcies and insolvencies will show on your credit file for 6 years from the date of order, with some exceptions:
- Judgments that are paid off within 1 month of order will be ‘set aside’, this means they will no longer appear on your credit file.
- If you have a Bankruptcy Restriction Order (BRO) or a Bankruptcy Restriction Undertaking (BRU) then these can stay on your credit file for up to 15 years.
- If you have an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) where the criteria of your IVA have not been met, then this could stay on your credit file for up to 15 years.
· Searches only stay on your credit report for two years.
· Address links, Alias links, and Electoral Register data will remain on your report indefinitely, as this form a vital part in displaying who you are. Please note, whilst a more historic record of your Electoral Register history will be visible to anyone reviewing your credit history, your credit report will only show your most recent unbroken stretch of data; such as the time since you last moved or amended your name on the register.
· Associate information will stay on your credit report until you request to be disassociated from this individual. You would do this if you were no longer financially linked to them. To apply for dissociation, you will need to raise a dispute against this area of your credit report.
· Cifas data will stay on your credit file for as long as is necessary to protect and prevent fraud.
· Notices of Correction will be on your credit report for as long as the data item it is attached to appears on your report, or until you request for it to be removed.
· Notices of Dispute will be on your credit report for up to 28 days whilst the information we’re investigating is being looked into by our team of data dispute specialists.
The data retention rules that credit referencing agencies abide by are in accordance with current data protection regulation and regulated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
To ensure that your confidential and sensitive data remains protected from access by unauthorised persons, this service uses a complex verification mechanism to authenticate your identity. Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of the data we are unable to tell you at which point(s) your verification failed, and Aqua Credit Checker is unable to influence this or make manual changes to your submission. If you’ve failed verification, then unfortunately we will not be able to provide you with a copy of your credit report through this service.
If you require a copy of your credit report with TransUnion, you can request your statutory credit report here. When requesting a copy of your credit report by post an agent is able to request additional information to verify your identity, and so we would advise that you request your report by post, as you will likely fail verification again via the online process.
Aqua Credit Checker will alert you to any factors which are having an impact on your score, so you can see the types of actions you can take that might help to improve your score if needed.
If you see that there is room for score improvement, there are some actions that you can take to help address this, e.g.
· Ensure you are enrolled on the Electoral Register
· Pay your credit commitments and bills within the requested timescales and stay on top of your payments
· Don’t exceed your agreed overdraft or credit limits
· If you have any credit accounts that you no longer use or require, close these.
· Settle any outstanding public data records as soon as you can.
If you see something that is incorrect on your report, then please raise a Notice of Dispute with us so that we can work with your lenders on your behalf to correct any irregularities where a genuine error was found. To raise a dispute please click on the dispute icon next to the information you wish us to investigate on your credit report.
Each credit reference agency has its own way of calculating a credit score based on the information it holds and when it receives it. Therefore, the credit score is not directly comparable across agencies. Your Aqua Credit Checker score is provided by TransUnion which has a maximum score of 710.
Only credit products are shown on your credit report, so savings accounts or current accounts without an overdraft facility will not be present, as they do not represent your credit history.
If you have opened a new account, it could be that Lenders have not provided this information to TransUnion as yet. Lenders share account performance data with credit referencing agencies every 4 - 6 weeks at which point it is loaded into the TransUnion database. Due to the data update frequency plus your monthly Aqua Credit Checker report refresh, the data turnaround time could be up to 10 weeks before it is visible to you.
If an account you opened 15 or more years ago is not showing on your credit report, it could be that you weren’t notified at the time of opening the account that data would be shared for credit referencing purposes, so it is therefore not permitted. To change this, please contact your Lender directly and speak to them about sharing your data with TransUnion.
You can change your password in the ‘My Account’ section of your Aqua Credit Checker account. Simply click on the ‘My Account’ button located at the top of the page when you log in, and under the ‘My Information’ tab select the ‘Edit’ button next to ‘Password’.
You can change your email address in the ‘My Account’ section of your Aqua Credit Checker account. Simply click on the ‘My Account’ button located at the top of the page when you log in, and under the ‘My Information’ tab select the ‘Edit’ button next to ‘Email Address’.
You can change your address in the ‘My Account’ section of your Aqua Credit Checker account. Simply click on the ‘My Account’ button located at the top of the page when you log in, and under the ‘My Information’ tab select the ‘Edit’ button next to ‘Address’.
We can make the relevant changes to your Aqua Credit Checker Account, but first we'll need to see your legal name change documents, such as your marriage certificate, passport or deed poll papers. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
If you have forgotten your password, you can reset this by going to the Login Screen and clicking ‘Forgot Password?’
You will then need to provide your email address and we will send you an email containing a link to reset your password. Once you have clicked on this link you will be asked to enter your memorable security question.
If you have successfully completed these steps, you will then be prompted to create a new password.
We’re sorry to learn you are thinking of leaving us. Is it something we’ve done? Your feedback is invaluable to help us improve our service, if you have a moment please get in touch by emailing us at email@example.com.
To cancel your Aqua Credit Checker account please navigate to the ‘My Account’ button located at the top of the page when you log in and in the ‘My Information’ tab select the ‘Close’ button next to ‘Account Status’.
Cifas are a London based not-for-profit company which is funded by its members. There are over 250 members in total which are spread across:
- Credit Card Companies
- Mail Orders
- Insurance Companies
- Retail Credit Companies
- Telecommunication Companies
- Share Dealing Companies
- Savings and Investments Companies
- Credit Reference Agencies.
Cifas helps to protect its members from the actions of criminals by informing Credit Reference Agencies of any fraudulent activity, which in turn prompts additional security checks.
So how does it work? Cifas is essentially a big database where companies (members) can add information relating to fraudsters, fraudulent activity, and victims of fraud. This database is shared with Credit Reference Agencies and attached to credit files hourly via a secure electronic format.
Help! There is a Cifas marker on my credit report, but I am not a fraudster!
Please don’t panic, having a ‘Victim of Impersonation’ Cifas flag on your credit report does not mean you are being accused of anything. This flag is added to an individual’s credit report when that individual has been identified as being a victim of fraud. The filing organisation will have likely been in contact with you to make you aware of any concerns they have with your account, or you may have contacted them, but if you are unsure what this refers to please contact the filing organisation directly.
Will having Cifas on my credit file impact my ability to obtain credit?
No, Cifas simply means that lenders will make additional checks to ensure that you are who you say you are and will never be the sole reason for rejecting a credit application. Cifas also doesn’t have an impact on your credit score.
· Check your credit report and dispute any activity you don’t recognise. To raise a dispute please click on the dispute icon next to the information you wish us to investigate on your credit report. Our team of data dispute specialists will raise your concerns with the organisation who provided the data to us to make them aware that the data is possibly fraudulent. The organisation will then perform a fraud investigation and remove any data they’ve shared which they find evidence fraud has occurred. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can contact the organisations directly with your concerns.
· You may wish to add a password to your credit report in the form of a notice of correction; this is a 200-word statement which can be applied to your credit report for the attention of anyone performing a credit search against you. This means the next time you apply for credit the credit provider will be notified that a password is required prior to concluding the application.
This is free to do and has absolutely no impact on your credit score. Please be mindful however that a notice of correction will mean that any applications you make will take slightly longer than usual, because your application will need to be manually processed in order to read your notice and action your request.
To add a password to your credit file please email your chosen wording to:
Or alternatively, you can write to us at:
Please bear in mind, Notice of Correction data is not shared across the Credit Reference Agencies and so you should also request a Notice of Correction to be raised with the other credit agencies too. Please see their contact information below:
You may wish to apply for ‘Protective Registration’, this is a cautionary Cifas marker which you can request to be added to your credit file to notify lenders and others that they should take special precautions to ensure your identity before extending credit.
Registration costs £20 and lasts for around 2 years. All applications for Protective Registration are made directly to Cifas. For more information, please see the link below: