Understanding Your Personal Credit Report

 

Your personal credit report is a very important document. It holds a variety of information about you, what debts you have and how you repay them.

Having a good credit report is important for a number of reasons, not least as it will allow you to apply for credit in the future. But it is also used for other reasons, including access to certain employment. .

If you have a poor credit profile, getting access to credit will be difficult and in many situations, impossible. .

Here in Ireland, two credit reporting agencies exist; the Central Credit Register and the Irish Credit Bureau.

The Central Credit Register is owned by the Central Bank of Ireland and managed by an international credit management company called CRIF. The Irish Credit Bureau is a much older credit reporting agency. It is privately owned by the credit and lending firms that lend to the public, including banks, credit unions, car finance companies and even local authorities.

The information that is collected and stored about you ranges from credit overdrafts, mortgages, car loans, personal loans and hire purchase / PCP agreements. However, while the ICB is currently the most comprehensive of the two credit reporting companies, it stores PCP transactions for example, it is expected that the Central Credit Report will record this information in the future.

How you can access your personal credit reports:

Before you begin to understand your credit report, you first need to get a copy. Here you have two options:

  1. Get a free copy – the Central Credit Register must supply you with one FREE copy of your personal credit report per year on request.
  2. A copy of your credit report from the Irish Credit Bureau will cost €6.

Keep in mind that at present, the CCR is the less complete of the two reports as it does not collect information on Personal Contract Plans (PCP) that are a very popular form of car finance.

If you’re preparing to apply for credit and are unsure of how good or not-so-good your personal credit profile is, it is recommended you get a copy of your report in advance to ensure there are no blemishes that may cause your loan to be declined. A mortgage application is a complicated process so you need to ensure you are best prepared for the process.

You have the right to challenge any information on your personal credit report that is incorrect. However, you must do this work yourself and directly with the credit reporting company and the lender that has issued the information you are disputing.

What information is on your credit report?

Essential information such as your name, address and various contact details are recorded. So is where you work, date of birth, gender, contact phone numbers along with a list of the outstanding loans you hold with various lenders.

Personal information

Personal details supplied by you are stored on your personal credit profile and can include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Gender
  • Place of Employment
  • Mobile phone number
  • Other phone numbers

This basic information is easy to understand, but you’ll still want to check the details carefully for accuracy and consistency.

Although your report may hold employer and employment details, your employer DOES NOT send any information about you to the credit bureaus.

Account Summary

You’ll find a summary of all of your debts, present and past and how you are paying them (or paid ones now closed).

The information includes:

  • Lender
  • Type of loan (Lease, Mortgage)
  • Term of loan (Months / Years)
  • Repayment frequency (monthly)
  • If you paid your scheduled payment on time
  • If you were late, buy how long (30 days past due, 60 days past due and so on).
  • Opening balance of the loan
  • Present balance of the loan
  • Enquiries (this is where you may have made a loan application but decided to not take the loan).
  • Credit score – not used by the CCR but used by the ICB for benefit of lender approvals

Account and repayment history

There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to repayment history. First, your regular monthly repayments are tracked and recorded for 24 months. This means that if you are paying a loan on time each month, this will show on your 24 month active history.

Where you had loan but it now repaid in full, this information is retained for 5 years after the account was paid off.

Your account history shows years of individual payments you’ve made month by month on each of your credit accounts, from loans to credit cards.

If on the other hand you have experienced problems making your payments on time, this information is recorded using a series of codes that show, for example if you were 30 days late with a mortgage or car loan repayment, 60 days late, 90 days late or worse. If a loan was not paid off, or settled for a lesser amount, this is recorded also. Additionally, this information is available for other creditors to see i you make a loan application in the future. This will impact whether or not other creditors will approve you for credit in the future.

Credit Enquiries

If you make a loan application, this information is recorded is recorded. The Central Credit Register and the Irish Credit Bureau have different rules when it comes to recording this information. What is important to remember is that loan enquiries are recorded as they serve to issue a notice that you may have a new loan pending, which can impact how much credit you can afford to repay in the future.

 

 

Inquiries only stay on your report for a shorter period than actual loans but you need to be aware they can limit the amount of credit lenders might be prepared to approve you for, especially if they feel you may be about to get additional loans that have not yet appeared on your credit report as active loans.

What information is not on your credit report?

One of the most important things to realise about your credit report is that it does NOT contain your credit score. Creditors and other companies report your payment history to the two credit bureaus.

A credit score is summarised version of all of your credit information but it is generated external to the actual credit report. For example, lenders may request a credit score on you as a way of expediting a decision on your credit application. That said, credit scores have become a very powerful way of assessing how well you manage credit and it is calculated using your monthly repayments as well as any recent loan enquiries so be sure to understand it’s significance and how to ensure it offers a true reflection of how well you manage credit. In some countries, credit scores are used by landlords, car insurance actuaries and even hospitals.

Utility repayments, Revenue payments, court and traffic fines are also not reported to the credit bureaus.

To access a copy of your personal credit report, you can contact either of the following:

Central Credit Register

www.centralcreditregister.ie

Irish Credit Bureau

www.icb.ie

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