20 Feb 2012

TOO THIN TO GET CREDIT?

TOO THIN TO GET CREDIT?

Equifax provides advice for consumers finding it difficult to get credit because of a lack of information on their credit file

www.equifax.co.uk

London, 20th February 2012 - This weekend’s BBC Radio 4 Moneybox featured the plight of a consumer who had been unable to get a mobile phone agreement because she was not very credit active. The lady in question had what is known in the credit industry as a ‘thin file’. She didn’t have any history of credit agreements which made it difficult for the mobile phone provider to assess her suitability for new credit and, as a result, they declined her application.

Having a ‘thin file’ means there is little data on an individual’s credit file, making it difficult, sometimes, for banks, building societies and other financial services providers to confirm their identity as well as gain an understanding of their ability to manage credit. Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director of leading online credit information provider, Equifax, admits that this can be a ‘catch 22’ situation. Someone without any credit can find it difficult to get new credit. But he has some useful advice for others who may have ‘thin files’.

“Thin files are most likely to occur for people between 18 and 20, who have only just entered the credit market or those in their 60’s and 70’s who may not have been very credit active previously” explained Neil Munroe. “Women whose husbands have been responsible for their mortgage payments are another group that can have ‘thin files’.

“For some organisations their automated systems will decline new credit applications simply because they can’t verify the credit status of the individual electronically. It’s therefore wise for those with ‘thin files’ to take a number of steps to give prospective lenders more confidence in their ability to manage credit.”

“First and foremost, make sure you’re on the electoral roll. Lenders will want to be able to verify the identity of the individual, which they do through electoral roll data. Then, if you know you haven’t been credit active, it makes sense to try to create a credit history. To do this, you can go to the bank or building society where you have your current bank account. They will have a picture of your financial history and, therefore, are more likely to extend new credit to you. So by opening a credit account of some sort with them, which you should keep paid up to date, you can start to create that credit history.”

“Another way to create a credit history is to apply to an organisation like a store card provider where they may be prepared to provide credit on the basis that you are buying goods from their store.”

“But if a credit application is rejected it’s important not to keep applying to new companies because this may also affect your ability to get credit”, continued Neil Munroe. “The more times it appears someone has applied for credit in a short space of time, the more likely a lender or organisation extending credit may reject the application because they will be concerned this will be an indication of possible fraud or over-indebtedness.”

“Instead, we strongly advise anyone who is planning to apply for credit, or who has had an application declined, to get a copy of their credit file - so they can see straight away what information is being used to assess them. They also have a right to ask the lender for a reason for their decision.”

“And if the consumer does believe that their lack of credit history is at the root of their inability to get credit, but they have a good history of paying other financial commitments, such as utility bills, then they can add a statement to that effect to their credit file, which lenders are obliged to read. This is called a ‘Notice of Correction’.

Equifax offers a free online credit check, where you can view your personal credit report, including any joint agreements you may have. The Equifax Credit Report, with the facility to access credit information for the first 30 days free, gives consumers a valuable insight into their credit status. Accessible simply by logging onto www.equifax.co.uk it is designed to help individuals understand their credit file and see what lenders see to assess new credit applications. It also includes expert tips and advice to help consumers take the right steps to manage their finances and navigate through life’s challenges.

If the customer does not cancel before the end of the 30 Day Free Trial, the service will continue at £6.99 per month, giving them unlimited online access to their credit information and weekly alerts on any changes to their credit file. It also includes an online dispute facility to help them correct any errors on their credit file simply and quickly.

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For further press information please contact: Louise Fowler, Clare Watson or Wendy Harrison at HSL on 020 8977 9132 / Fax: 020 8977 5200 or Email: louise@harrisonsadler.com

About Equifax
Equifax is a global leader in consumer and commercial information solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 500 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers. Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 17 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.