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Credit reference mistakes are costing consumers

Sign saying 'oops'

A good credit score can make the difference between being accepted or rejected for a credit card or mortgage. But what happens when the credit reference agency makes a mistake and gives out an incorrect record?

Credit reference agencies, such as Experian or Equifax, make their living from selling on your personal information so that banks or building societies understand how much of a credit risk you are.

If you’ve missed repayments on a loan, they’ll know. If you’ve defaulted on a debt, they’ll know. If you’re on the electoral roll, they’ll know. However, research by Which? has found that almost a quarter of people who checked their credit report found an error.

So who is making sure they get it right? And what happens if you lose out when they get it wrong?

How mistakes can cost

Mistakes on credit records can lead to you losing out on a good deal. One consumer, Mrs S, applied for a new mortgage deal when her existing one came to an end. But she was rejected on the basis that she’d previously missed repayments on a loan.

She knew this wasn’t true and checked her credit record. It turned out her record contained information relating to a complete stranger! They had the same name, but different dates of birth and addresses. They had never even lived at the same address. Mrs S missed out on the mortgage as the deal was no longer available by the time the problem was cleared up.

Where’s the compensation?

At the moment there is no avenue for compensation when mistakes like this end up costing you money. Plus, if there is a mistake it can take up to two months for the record which companies see about you to be corrected.

Ok, errors occur from time to time but consumers shouldn’t have to lose out as a result. Everyone should get fair treatment when firms make mistakes with your personal information – that’s why we’re asking the Government to ensure these agencies make some changes to address these issues.

What are your experiences with credit reference agencies – have you had any problems? If so, did you find it quick and easy to get the issue resolved or did you end up losing out?

Comments
Member

Got to be honest, I check my credit record frequently and the ONLY mistakes I have foudn so far are on the part of banks and credit card companies that I have dealt with, not the credit reference agency.

The Co-Op bank recorded a late payment notice against a load I had every month for a year. They never told me, I found out quite by chance (that was what started me off chekcing up). When investigated it turned out that their lending department had set up a loan for me with the payment date as the 31st of the month, but the same lending department told the current accounts department to take the money from my account by standing order on the 1st of every month. For a whole year the transferred the money from my current account to my load account on the 1st of each month and for a year lending recorded it as being a day late.
I had to write to the Co-Op’s them MD (Mervyn Pedalty) to get that fixed.
Also with the co-op, I had a credit card which I wrote and asked to be CLOSED. Although I expressly stated in my letter that I wanted the account CLOSED, it took 4 months of me checking my credit record and writing to the co-op each time before they actually closed it. Their excuses included “we thought you might want to reactivate it later” and “there is a credit balance of 1 penny but you have not authorised us to send you a refund cheque” as well as the expected “computer error”.
The only other mistake I have identified was with the Council Tax people who kept saying my payment was late when I made it via on line banking. After involving my MP it turned out hat my council has a clearing account at Alliance and Leicester for receiving Council Tax Payments made on line. The A&L were only forwarding the payments to the council once there was a certain amount waiting in the clearing account. Further investigation by my MP discovered that his was the council’s choice because the A&L charged them less in fees to do this than if they sent each payment forward at once. The council were very reluctant to change the entries on my credit record but were eventually persuaded to do so.
Mind you, I have never had very much in the way of credit so I guess that proportionally I have suffered quite a lot of errors and if you scale these up to match people with loads of accounts or who regularly transfer to new cards and so on, it’s probably quite a frightening figure of errors.

Member

I would certainly advise checking your record at the three main credit agencies before applying for credit, particularly something big like a mortgage.

It is not just information that might be incorrect but there may be something not on it that you need to add.

Una Farrell, Media Manager, CCCS

Member
Lauyra says:
17 August 2011

I had some financial difficulties in 2005 and entered into an IVA for 5 and a half years. I successfully completed the IVA in November 2010 and finally got a certificate of completion in March 2011.

When I got the certificate over six years had passed, and so I checked my report to see if the two loans I had were still showing up. To my shock and horror, they were – both had default dates registered for 2006… so it looked as though everything would stay on my report for an extra year.

I contacted the lenders and they happily (and very speedily) removed them from my report and apologised for the mistake.

I then noticed that Equifax had corrected my file and then rather speedily changed it back to the original incorrect information. I called them and they didn’t seem to know what was going on. They weren’t able to tell me when it was settled and then reverted back and couldn’t see what updates I was talking about – even though I had the mails in front of me. They blamed the lender and advised me to contact them again.

I called the bank, and they sent me a letter to let me know they’d updated the records again… and again! In all I’ve spoken to the bank about seven times since April 2011 to get this information removed and they’re as perplexed as I am.

The other two reference agencies have managed to update their records, but not Equifax – and every time I contact them they come out with another load of old waffle about how its the banks fault. But the bank sends the SAME information to all of the Credit Reference Agencies.

I’ve now sent Equifax copies of the letters I’ve had from the bank apologising and letting me know they’ve sent through updated, but Equifax won’t update it.

The staff are unhelpful, unintelligible for the most part and often cut me off. The cost of calling them (as they don’t seem to respond to letters) is up to about £35 and I’ve been paying for the £6.99 a month subscription to find out what on earth it is they’re doing to my report since May. Each and every time I try to get this sorted I’m advised that the lender has up to 28 days to sort it out, but I think they’ve already tried their best (on numerous occasions) and that this is down to the CRA. But they’re immune and they hide behind the same old reply of “its the lenders fault”.

I would love to be able to claim some kind of compensation for the money I’ve paid to get this sorted, for the wasted phone calls and for not being able to move my mortgage to a better rate but I know I won’t get anything.

In fact, I’ll be lucky if they don’t amend my record and add another couple of years onto the report!

Member
Ann C says:
15 November 2011

I entered into a Trust Deed for 3 years. Equifax did not update my information once the 6 year period expired and inserted incorrect information regarding the length of time we’d lived at our address. Both were errors on the part of Equifax. It would also appear that instead of simply signing up for a statutory report, I have signed up for a membership for £6.99 a month. I can’t log on, can’t get a hold of Equifax by phone, it costs a fortune to call and because it’s my debit card and not a Direct Debit, I can’t cancel it! These people are robbers and should be outlawed. They are a law unto themselves and answer to no one. I’m paying for their mistakes which they are allowed to fix in their own time!

Member
JayCee says:
17 December 2011

I was recently turned down for credit and the lender advised me that they use Equifax, Experian and Callcredit when making a decision. I paid to access my credit profiles from all these organisations and both Experian and Callcredit had accurate and complete information, and Experian scored my credit worthiness as ‘Excellent’. However, when I checked with Equifax I discovered that they did not have a record of me registered on the electoral roll at my current address, even though the other agencies did, and they only scored me as ‘fair’. I had to go to the council offices and pay £10 to get evidence of my electoral registration to send to Equifax before they would put it right. I then discovered that, even though they had latest monthly balance and payment information for my credit card and bank account, they did not have a record of these accounts at my current address, which put me in the ‘fair’ category. They claimed my bank and credit provider had not informed them of my address, but my bank claimed that they provide my address with every monthly payment information they send to Equifax. There are obviously huge errors with Equifax’s systems and I think it’s disgusting that they make pronouncements on my credit worthiness which affect my ability to borrow money. It has taken me weeks to sort this out, and has cost me money and great stress to fix. They still have not corrected my profile so I cannot try again for credit. Throughout my dealings with Equifax I have found it completely frustrating – their website is not clear, they make it incredibly difficult to get at your own information, and the ‘ask’ process for raising questions is hard work and the staff unhelpfully reply with standard text and skirt around giving a proper answer.

Based on other comments on this site it seems that Equifax are the worst culpits in terms of making mistakes with people’s information, causing huge issues and anxiety for consumers in the process. I would support any efforts to get the Government to look into how these agencies are run.

Member

I am in the throes of trying to get an extension on my mortgage. Experian gave me a 976 rating, Equifax gave me a bad credit rating as apparently I am not on the electoral roll. I have been on the electoral roll in this area since 1964. I have phoned, and written twice and have had no response from Equifax. This is causing me a great deal of anxiety and distress as I am in debt to my builder, who owes his subcontractors. I have never been in debt and I am at the end of my tether. Can anyone suggest how one contacts A PERSON to speak to at Equifax. I have spoken to their call centre and unfortunately am unable to understand the heavily accented english. On requesting to speak to a supervisor I was told no one was available. I cannot find a number, other than the call centre, they are not replying to letters. Can anyone suggest where I go from here?

Member
Graham says:
15 February 2012

I applied for a mobile phone and contract from Mobiles.co.uk 3 weeks ago the day after application and not having confirmation email I was contacted by by Mobiles that my credit check carried out by T-Mobile who were to be the phone package supplier had failed, they could not discuss why and would need to contact T-Mobile or Experian. I tried T-Mobile but as I had no invoice or their mobile phone I could not get passed initial questions. I then spoke to Experian who could only advise to sign up for a credit report this I did took 5 days to get found I had excellent credit rating signed up with other 2 credit agencies that T-Mobile use same ratings but none show searches by T-Mobile on my application dates. They did do a search on the on the 10th February but that is only after I have been in communications with their C.E.O.s office but the are still adamant that the checks they carried out initially showed poor credit rating. Any suggestions on how to resolve this

Member
joe says:
31 March 2012

A couple of months ago, luckily, I opened a letter which it turned out was not for me. It was someone I had never heard of who had been given a loan using my address. I contacted the company concerned by post, for the record but they didn’t bother to reply. I then thought I’d get the ‘free’ Experian report online. They couldn’t even find my address where I’ve been for years and this has lead to a futile e-mail correspondence which has gone nowhere.. Quite useless. I then thought I’d do the ‘free’ Equifax one. Filled it in online and that had a job accepting my address but it eventually went through – at this point I was told that I needed to contact them on a premium rate line, where I was left listening to recorded music after going through four sets of ‘options’ none of which seemed quite relevant. A complete con. So I’ve got nowhere. Equifax managed to get my credit card details before the premium rate line fiasco, so I have also had to serve notice on them by post to warn them not to make any charges. Someone should do something about these organisations. They are either useless or dishonest.