Ever wondered who can see your credit report and if this impacts your credit score? We discover ten groups of people who can see your credit file, plus how and why they access it.
We outline the main groups of people who can view your credit report below. Some of them will only run soft searches on your credit file, which won’t impact your credit score. But others will run hard checks on your credit report which stay on your credit report for 12 months, and in some cases even longer.
For example, lenders will run hard checks every time you apply for credit. Multiple credit applications within a short space of time can temporarily lower your credit score. This can reduce your chances of obtaining credit.
But you can check your own credit report for free with one of the three main credit reference agencies in the UK or use our partner, CredAbility. You can do this as many times as you like without it impacting your credit score. It only counts as a soft search, so only you will be able to see it on your credit report.
Who can see my credit report?
Banks use your past financial behaviour to predict your future behaviour and decide how risky it would be to have you as a customer.
When you apply for a current account the bank may run a hard credit check to confirm your identity and see how responsible you are with money. They may also run another check on your credit file if you apply at a later date for an overdraft or a credit limit increase.
Lenders and creditors
When you apply for credit, your lender will run a hard check on your credit report to assess how well you manage your finances. Your credit history will affect whether your application is accepted, how much you can borrow and the rate of interest.
Each lender uses their own criteria and will look for different things when assessing your credit application. But generally, if you have a good credit history then they should have more confidence that you’ll repay them. This means they are more likely to accept your credit application and apply lower interest rates.
Debt collection agencies
If you don’t maintain your debt repayments, then your lender may outsource your account to a debt collection agency. This can only happen after a default has been placed on your credit file.
A debt agency does have the right to check your credit report They can use this information to choose the most suitable course of action to recover the debt from you.
Mortgage providers want evidence that you are a reliable borrower before they agree to lend you money. So they will review your finances in detail, including the information on your mortgage application and credit file. Like other lenders, they will run a hard check on your credit report when you submit an application.
A number of factors will be taken into consideration, not just your credit file. But the mortgage provider should see you as more trustworthy if your history is positive.
Insurance companies can access your credit report, but the level of access depends on how you want to pay for it. If you plan to pay in full for a year they may run a soft check to confirm your identity.
A hard check will be run on your credit report if you want to pay monthly, as they will be insuring you upfront and trusting you to repay them over the course of the year. Because of this, it becomes a credit agreement. Your credit history could then influence the cost of your insurance.
As with insurance companies, before you take out a mobile phone contract, the provider may want to check your credit report. This is because a mobile contract is a form of credit and they want to make sure it is affordable for you. If you have a poor credit history, you may be refused a mobile phone contract and be put on pay-as-you-go instead.
Utility companies may view your credit history as they are technically providing a form of credit. Whether they run a soft or hard check depends on the supplier. If you have a poor credit history, this shouldn’t stop you from using their services, but it might mean you are put onto a prepaid account, like a key meter.
Most employers won’t request to see a copy of your credit report before they offer you a job. But certain employers will run a soft check your credit file as part of the screening process.
This may apply if you are going to be working with large sums of money, within financial services or have a high level of responsibility, for example. (This shouldn’t apply if you are going to be working with small amounts of money in retail or table service for instance).
If you have been made bankrupt, this will show on your credit file for six years. It can seriously affect your job prospects if you work in areas like financial services, banking, gambling, law, accountancy, the civil service, the police or security. This is because potential employers may view you as being more susceptible to bribery and corruption.
You can always refuse a request to see your credit file, but it might lower your prospect of getting the job.
Letting agents and landlords/landladies
Anyone letting out a property will most likely want to see your credit report to confirm your identity and view your repayment history. The information they get will normally only include information held on public registers such as whether you are registered to vote, been made bankrupt, been in an IVA or had any CCJs.
They will use this information to decide whether to let you the property. It largely depends on how confident they are that you’ll repay your rent each month, based on your past financial habits.
They usually request extra information like wage slips and bank statements as proof of income.
In certain circumstances, government agencies can check your credit report. For example, for crime prevention, the collection of taxes, to decide child support payments, as part of a legal case or to process an application for certain licences.
Can anyone see my credit report?
No. Members of the public including family and friends are not able to view your credit file. It can only be accessed by third parties with your permission for legitimate reasons.
What appears on my credit report?
The information included in your report can vary depending on the credit reference agency.
The following things can usually be viewed by third parties:
- Personal details - such as your full name, date of birth and old addresses
- Electoral roll information - whether or not you are registered to vote at your current address
- How much you owe - including the balance and credit limit on credit cards, loans, mortgages and overdrafts from the past six years
- Hard searches - carried out by lenders when you have applied for credit
- Financial associations - showing anyone you’ve had joint finances with
- Payment history - from the last six years, including any late or missed payments
- CCJs, IVAs or bankruptcies - will show for six years and can seriously impact your ability to obtain credit
- Fraudulent activity - to show if you’ve been a victim of fraud or done something fraudulently
What doesn’t appear on my credit report?
There are a number of things that you might not realise don’t appear on your credit report. So, you may (or may not) be asked about these things separately as part of your credit application/rental agreement etc. (For example, some lenders will want further proof of income like wage slips and bank statements as part of your application).
- Soft searches
- Political stance
- Medical records
- Criminal records
Remember, going forward, it’s best to review your credit report regularly and make sure you update any mistakes. Also, remove any old financial ties which could be impacting your credit score and ability to get credit in the future.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.
By Adele Kitchen
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