About a third of Britons do not know what the purpose of a credit history report is, new statistics show.
According to a study carried out by Garlik, 33 per cent of those surveyed are unaware that the file is used by credit lenders when judging whether to grant a personal loan to consumers and the amount of interest that they will be charged. Meanwhile, about one in five respondents did not even know that such a report is ever held in their name.
The findings also indicated that only a quarter of consumers have checked their credit history over the last five years, with about half of these said to have done so once during this period. Young adults were said to be the most under-informed about credit reports, with almost half (48 per cent) said to be ignorant on why the file is used.
Chief executive for the data protection company Tom Ilube said: “Credit reports have historically been used by financial organisations before offering individuals credit. However, online identity fraud is rapidly increasing, with the average person’s ID worth an estimated £85,000 to fraudsters, so it is becoming increasingly necessary for people to take matters into their own hands and ensure they remain on top of their credit files. ”
A Garlik case study revealed that a young mother had developed debts of some £9,000 after her identity was stolen as the thieves borrowed money on plastic cards, car finance deals and other forms of credit in her name and attempted to take out a mortgage. Consequently, she is now reported to be unable to get a car on credit. “Katie, like all of us, can best prevent identity theft by proactively and regularly monitoring her credit report, ” Mr Ilube added.
Meanwhile, Melanie Mitchley, director of industry relations for Callcredit, claimed in January that those whose credit history has been the victim of identify theft can find their financial pressures intensifying. “It can take many hours work over several weeks, even months, for someone to recover control of their identity and sort out their credit file, ” she claimed.
Earlier this year, figures released by Which? revealed that those who regularly check their financially history with all three credit reference agencies - Equifax, Call Credit and Experian - are more likely to get a cheap loan. The consumer watchdog reported that as loan providers use different information when making decisions on whether to approve borrowing consumers could secure a more competitive rate of interest by getting a copy of their file from each reference group.
Meanwhile, about a fifth of Which? Consumers who have recently had their credit file checked out were said to have found a mistake with their report. Figures from the company also revealed that seven out of ten respondents have never verified their files with a credit reference agency.
As a result, editor for Which? Money Martyn Hocking claimed that for the cost of £6 checking credit files could be “money well spent” for consumers looking for a low-rate loan.
Abbi Rouse writes for Essentially Home Loans . Our visitors can apply online for secured personal loans and debt consolidation loans at the lowest interest rates.