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How to Complain about a Credit Reference Agency

Have you ever been refused a loan, a mortgage or a credit card for no apparent reason? Beyond being extremely frustrating, this problem can feel impossible to figure out, let alone resolve. 

However, I’m here to tell you that, if this happens, it is most likely that a Credit Reference Agency (CRA) is behind it. 

By supplying inaccurate information about you to the credit provider, CRAs can lead to your applications for various forms of loans or finance being declined. This is obviously a very serious matter.  However, most consumers are probably unclear on what they can do to address it. 

Here I give my expert guidance on how to take on CRAs. 

How to complain about a CRA

If you have bad credit rating there are many ways to improve it. However, if you suspect that your rating is not an accurate reflection of your financial history or circumstances you will need to investigate further, via the CRA who generated it. 

1. If you are refused credit you should demand a reason

Unfortunately, lenders are not obliged to explain their reasons. If directly asking to know the cause of your application being declined does not work, you should then contact the three main UK CRAs and make a request for them to provide a copy of the information they hold on you. 

The main CRAs are Experian, Equifax and Transunion.  Their contact details are as follows:

Equifax Ltd
Customer Service Centre
P.O. Box 10036

0800 014 2955

Experian Ltd
Customer Support Centre
PO Box 9000
NG80 7WF

0800 013 8888 

Consumer Services Team
PO Box 491

0330 024 7574

2. Ask for the “Statutory Report” on yourself

You can get a CRA to provide details of what information they hold on you by contacting them online via their websites or by good old-fashioned letter.

Do not be lured into paying for some subscription service that you don’t want! You can simply demand your report – as this must be supplied free of charge.

Make sure your request also supplies your full name, address, any other addresses in the past six years and your date of birth. These companies are large, impersonal and opaque – but they still have a duty to supply the information they hold on you. So be prepared – some patience and persistence may be needed!  

3. Once you get your hands on the report, do your own checks for accuracy

You may need to compare the financial history the CRA holds against your own records and paperwork, such as bank or credit card statements and household bills. 

If you spot an error in your credit report, you should demand that the CRA corrects it immediately. CRAs are obliged to respond to what they call a “Notice of Correction.”

It may be that the CRA blame your bank – which could have supplied misleading or incorrect information. In that case, you will then need to make a complaint to your bank. Make sure you provide written confirmation of inaccuracies from the CRA as evidence in your complaint. 

4. Make a complaint to your bank or the regulator

If both the CRA and the bank refuse to put matters right, you should then get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Services to make a complaint about both of them.

Both CRAs and banks are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA) so you may wish to escalate matters with the FCA as well. 

Don’t be complacent – complain!

You shouldn’t underestimate the seriousness of a false credit rating. It can lead to financial precarity and obstruct your ability to buy a home or obtain the right kind of financing for your circumstances. 

If a CRA or bank is saying things about you that are wholly untrue and damaging you have, in theory at least, a claim in law for defamation.

The hard facts are that this sort of claim is very hard to litigate – as the small claims court will not deal with it so it would be very expensive to pursue. However, I would say that it is well worth mentioning in your correspondence with a CRA that you regard the inaccuracy as defamatory.

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