What is a credit reference agency?
Published 15 April 2016
There may be some financial jargon that you don’t fully understand – here we explain what a credit reference agency is.
When you apply for credit such as a credit card or loan, a lender will use different things to help them decide whether or not you can borrow. As part of this, they’ll look at your credit report and they can access this through one of the credit reference agencies (CRAs).
Not sure what a CRA is? We’re going to take you through the basics.
Credit reference agencies
CRAs are independent companies that hold information about your financial behaviour and borrowing. When you apply for credit, lenders can check the information on your credit report.
There are three main CRAs – Experian, Equifax and CallCredit – and lenders can ask one or all three of them for information on you. CRAs don’t always carry the same data as each other but they generally hold the following information.
• Registered to vote: if you’re on the electoral roll, lenders will be able to see your address and how long you’ve lived here.
• Account information: there will be some info on how you’re managing your existing accounts and whether you’re making payments on time.
• Public records: this will vary depending on where you live in the UK, but it could show any previous bankruptcies, IVAs or sequestration orders.
• Home repossessions: information from members of the Council of Mortgage Lenders will show if you’ve had any homes repossessed.
• Financial links: it will show the details of any financial links to other people. So if you’ve taken out credit with a partner or roommate, their credit history could affect yours.
• Previous searches: lenders will be able to see if any companies and organisations have looked at your information in the last 12 months.
• Linked addresses: it will also show all of your previous addresses.
A CRA will hold your information for six years although it may hold some information for longer, depending on the situation. You can review your credit report through Experian or Equifax for a fee or access a free report through Noddle or Clearscore.
As a thinkmoney customer, you probably know about our plans for bringing you a new, even better thinkmoney later this year.
As part of this upgrade, we’re going to start reporting that you have an account with us to CRAs each month. Having an active current account on your credit history will typically help you apply for credit in the future.