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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.

Member
veryannoyed2012 says:
25 April 2012

We are in the throws of buying our first family home after renting and living with our parents. We have got ourselves a clear and almost perfect credit history. We applied for our mortgage and were declined!! We couldnt understand why until we checked up our credit files with Experian and equifax. Experian had info wrongly recorded so phoned them to put it right no problems there, Equifax on the other hand have so much information wrong it almost belongs to someone else!! They have no record of any live credit accounts such as our bank accounts and mobile phones, No record of us on the electoral roll and have us living at a totally diffent address that we have never lived at!! but trying to get them to change it is like trying to get blood from a stone and they are the most rude Customer advisors ive ever dealt with!! They even told us after 15 minutes that they were now closed and hung up on us!! So we have now lost the house we wanted and suffered the humiliation of cancelling everything!!

Member
Colin says:
19 July 2012

I am in the middle of a dispute with Talkmobile over three months of charges and have been waiting for another two months for them to provide an audio transcript. In the meantime they marked our credit history (without telling us) which was previously perfect and I was recently declined a loan offered initially at a very preferential rate. I have reported them to OFCOM, I have never had the displeasure of dealing with such a poor, poor company. How can they do this without any external control or censure ? Some idiot in an accounts department can make a decision that has material impact with out any oversight, audit, agreement, communication or regulatory framework it would seem. Not ethical, not acceptable.

Member
Jacqui says:
28 September 2012

My husband and I are trying to obtain a mortgage for the very first time, we want to purchase a home for the first time. Low and behold the only thing holding us back it a “court judgment” in my husbands name that does not belong to him. We think it is his fathers because they are SR and JR. we contacted the supposed company it is through and they said he never had an account with them in that year it is stating. So does this mean we are going to lose out on this perfect home because someone messed up? How is that fair to us? Shouldn’t the credit burrow be responsible in some way? I do!

Jax

Member
Pwilli3 says:
7 April 2013

I am having a whole load of trouble with my credit rating, My experian rating is 917, which is what I’d expect, yet my Equifax rating is 330 as I was not registered on the electoral roll nor have any credit agreements at my current address? I am registered on the electoral roll and do have agreements at my current address. How can Experian have it so right yet Equifax get it so wrong? i have just been refused a credit card (from Capital One, meant to assist those with poor credit ratings)! I’m now stuck with a balance on a credit card accruing interest, when I should have been able to transfer it to a 0% card no problem!! How can these CRAs have so much power yet not be held accountable for their errors, especially at a time when we are all scrimping and saving, every penny is counted.

Member
Lizzie says:
16 August 2013

1 company I previously used (yes, virgin media i mean you)sent correspondence to an old address although they were advised I had moved. They received no reply, understandly, and so registered a default and months of late fees. All for £20.
When I contested it -having been threatened by a debt collection agency- i was offered only an apology.

Nightmare

Member

I have to disagree with the Chris Mcbride as i found a firm who got me compensation for my credit score being ruined. During my days at Reading uni i was given a credit default by T-mobile in errror which they denied for 6 months , from then on i couldnt even get a mobile contract as i was deemed so credit unworthy , my bank even down graded me to a basic account which looking back makes me laugh as they banks have the worst credit ratings of all. But having reached my wits end my local CAB in Slough recommend me a firm who fought on my behalf and got me some much needed compemsation for the nightmare vicious circle i was in …

Member
Becky says:
28 May 2015

Hi Zoe,
Can you please give us information about the solicitors firm used in this case?
Nat

Member
Mike W says:
3 January 2016

personally i think they do it on purpose. I have found 7 errors in 2 years! Yes 7! hard to believe but its true, It got me thinking… If they get paid for annual subscriptions which essentially forces people to keep their account, then its in their interest to make errors. Think about it.. If the error has to be checked then you have to pay to go online to check it. If they had a quick ” one off” option then i would most likely pull back my statement but they dont which makes me not trust them at all. I want to join Clearscore because they are free but dont know much about them so i am hesitant to join incase its some chancers who decide to have a field day with my account!

Member

The time it takes to update data can be 4 to 6 weeks ! So I paid off £7,000 in credit before applying for a mortgage my credit cards all moved to 0%. When checking my Experian file my score went from 999 to 854 because they had not taken off the £7,000 . When I questioned this Experian said it takes 4 to 6 weeks to gain the data !!!
So we have to wait whilst industry plays with financial offers- At my score of 999 I was offered good interest options at a score of 854 I will not .
Basically these scoring data base systems are slow and out dated and yes they cost the consumer money. Not to mention the annual cost of over £300.
Really suprised they are allowed to operate at all.
My wife also ckecked her file- they had not updated her address for 5 years and we had been told that it would be done by 9am next working day- guess what 7 dayss later still not updated still no data attached – they claim to help to prevenet fraud – How!!! if they cannot even update with the correct data .
Utter Con- system needs to change.