Cleaning up your credit report can be an important step towards getting your finances in check. Although you can’t remove accurate information, it’s recommended to get an up-to-date picture.
Why should I clean up my credit report?
Lenders review your credit report when you’re looking to borrow, whether that’s for a loan, mortgage or a bank account. A good credit report often means a higher credit score which is favourable in the eyes of lenders. That’s why we recommend checking for any incorrect information on your credit report and, if necessary, finding out how to fix a bad credit history.
A credit report confirms your identity and gives a detailed overview of your financial history. Information such as your current and previous addresses, joint financial accounts and any previous or ongoing borrowing are shown in the report.
When looking at your report, it could be obvious why you’re struggling to be accepted for borrowing. County Court Judgements (CCJs), previous bankruptcies or individual voluntary agreements (IVAs) will negatively impact your credit score. However, you may also spot an inaccuracy and want to know how to remove errors on your credit report.
How do I get my credit reports?
You can get your credit reports from the three credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. It’s a good idea to get all three reports if you’re checking for the first time, or haven’t reviewed recently, as each account of your credit history may have some differences to the others.
What errors should I look for?
Incorrect information on your credit report could include:
- Addresses on unused accounts - ongoing contracts under an address you no longer live at.
- Unused credit cards – if you have credit cards that you no longer need or use.
- Unfair defaults – inaccurate evidence of defaults on your credit report.
- Wrongly linked accounts – joint accounts or finances which are no longer linked to you.
How to remove incorrect information on UK credit reports
You will need to contact the credit reference agencies or lenders to find out how to remove errors on your credit report.
Check your credit report against your own financial records
Every detail must be scrutinised and it’s up to you to check for any errors on your credit reports. It’ll be much easier to spot a genuine error if you have your own records in order. Having your own evidence also means that the lender or referencing agency can fix mistakes.
Contact your lender
It’s important to contact your lender as soon as possible if you spot incorrect information on your credit reports. If it’s clear that the lender has made a mistake, they can update the credit reference agency. For example, a payment that was recorded in error as late can be amended, providing you have solid evidence.
If your dispute is not approved and settled by the lender and you have legitimate evidence to prove otherwise, you can request the change directly with the credit referencing agency. Keep in mind that the referencing agency will still have to contact your lender to approve the change.
Contact credit reference agencies
If you are unable to contact your lender directly, or there is a dispute, then you can also inform each reference agency of any mistakes you’ve found. You will still need to provide sufficient evidence that there is a genuine error. If you have notified the credit reference agency, they will flag your credit report with a notice of correction to make your lender aware.
If you have a joint loan or bank account with someone else you are no longer associated with, you can request a notice of disassociation. This can only be done once the joint account has been closed to avoid any further delay.
When will my credit score update?
Once you have notified your lender or credit referencing agency, the changes will need to be approved on your credit report. Once the errors have been removed, your credit score will be updated. This can take a couple of months to show up.
How do I fix bad credit?
Removing incorrect information on your credit report is just one of the steps you can take to fixing bad credit, but there are many other methods which can help you fix it.
Build up your credit history.
Reference agencies will not be able to issue an accurate credit score without a track record of your spending habits. Consider applying for credit and paying it off regularly to build up a good credit history.
Use a lower percentage of your available credit.
For example, if you have a credit limit of £3,000 and have used £1,000 from it, you will have used 33%. The lower the percentage used, the better it appears for lenders as it shows you’re not heavily reliant on credit.
Identify your highest cost loans.
Prioritise high interest rate loans and develop a workable payment plan to reduce these balances down. Regular repayments of existing loans will reflect positively on your credit score.
Keep old accounts where possible.
If you have had a credit card for a long time, continue to use this where possible. An old account will detail a long credit history and therefore have a good impact on your credit score.
More information on how to fix bad credit history can be found in our comprehensive guide to improving your credit score.
For more advice on improving credit scores, visit the Norton Finance Know How page.