Debt Help UK

How do I check if I’m blacklisted

Just the sound of the word “Blacklisted” seems to strike fear into the heart of many people. However, most people do not really know what Blacklisting means. Being credit blacklisted is just another way of saying that lenders do not want to lend you more money. This is generally because you are currently struggling to repay what you have already borrowed or have failed to repay debts in the past.

How Could I Be Blacklisted?

If you have borrowed money in the past – perhaps a bank loan, credit card, store card or even a mortgage, then this information is recorded on a central credit file held by a Credit Reference Agency. The largest agencies in the UK are called Equifax and Experian. The file records information about each different account you have opened – normally who the lender is, the outstanding balance and a history about whether you have made your repayments on time and if any have been missed.
If you have been late with any of your payments or have missed payments completely, these details will be sent by the lender to Equifax and/or Experian and recorded on your file. Then, if you apply for more credit – perhaps a new loan or catalogue credit, the new lender will be able to access your credit file to check if you are keeping up your payments on your current borrowing.

The new lender will normally only be able to see the history of your repayments, not who is owed money and the balances. The new lender will use this information to help decide whether they should lend you more money. Clearly if you have recently missed payments and/or are behind with your payments, this may count against you. The new lender may decide that you are already having problems with your current debt and do not want to lend you any more. They may therefore turn down your application as a result. Click here to find out reasons why you might be refused credit.

How To Check Your Credit File for Problems

Each time you take credit, this information will be registered by the loan or card company with one or both of the credit reference agencies, Experian and Equifax. Each time you make or miss a payment, this will be recorded on the file that the agencies hold about you. Anyone can request a copy of their credit file to see what information the credit reference agencies currently hold – you do not have to have been refused credit to do this. You will only be able to repair your credit history by getting hold of a copy of your credit file.

To get a copy of your file you must write to Experian or Equifax and ask for it. The addresses are given below:

Consumer Help Service Experian
PO Box 8000
Nottingham
NG1 5GX

Credit File Advice Centre Equifax
PO Box 1140
Bradford
BD1 5US

Remember:

  • Send a £9.95 cheque or postal order payable to Equifax (non returnable) or apply online. Experian currenly offer a free 30 day trial, so you can check your credit report for free online
  • Give your full name & address including postcode
  • Give any other addresses (including post code*) you have lived at during the previous six years. (This helps the agency to trace all the information it holds about you)

*If you can not remember the post codes of your previous addresses, you should be able to find them by looking at www.royalmail.co.uk. You will normally receive a copy of your file within 14 days. You should also receive a booklet explaining how to read your credit file and the information contained within it.

What Is My Credit Rating?

Even if you have received copies of your credit files from Experian and Equifax, this will not tell you your credit rating. However, Equifax Credit Rating™ enalbes you to get your credit rating, including your credit report for £12.95. But remember, lenders make their own decisions as to whether they should lend you more money based on their own credit rating policy. They check the factual information given to them by Equifax & Experian against this policy and accept or reject your application accordingly. They may also use other criteria obtained from your application from. Note, One lender’s rating policy may be different to another’s and therefore one may accept your application while another will not.

Correcting Your Credit File

If you think that any of the information you have been sent by the credit reference agency is wrong, you can ask for it to be corrected or removed from the file. You need to write to the agency telling them what you want them to do. You should explain why you think the information is wrong. Click here for more information on repairing your credit history and credit repair.

If you write to the agency in this way, they have to reply within 28 days. Their answer will tell you whether they have corrected the information, removed it from their file or done nothing. If the file has been corrected, you will get a copy of the entry. If the reply states that the agency has done nothing or if the information is corrected but you remain unhappy with the correction you can write your own note of correction (no more than 200 words) clearly explaining why you think the information is wrong and ask for it to be included on the file.

If the credit reference agency has not written to you within 28 days or has refused to add your note of correction, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. If you want to do this, you will have to write to:

The Information Commissioner Wycliffe House, Water Lane Wilmslow Cheshire. SK9 5AF
When you write, you must give the following details:
a) Your full name and address
b) Name and address of credit reference agency
c) Copy of the note of correction
d) Details of the information you think is wrong including:

  • Why you think it is wrong
  • Why you think you are likely to suffer because it is wrong
  • The date when you send the note of correction

Facts About Blacklisting

Will Other Members of My Family Be Affected?

If you have had problems with repaying your debt, this should not affect other members of your family or other people who you live when they try to gain credit for themselves (unless they are also named as responsible for your debt). However, where people are living at the same address and particularly where they have the same surname, it is possible for information about one individual to be mixed up with another’s credit file. If people that you live with have been refused credit, the first action they should take is to request a copy of their credit file. It may be that they have problems of their own. However, if they find information concerning another individual on their file, they can request that it is corrected as described above. Read what to do if you want to create a disassociation on your file and are leaving home, divorcing or separating.

Will I Be Blacklisted For Ever?

The answer to this is no. However, if you have experienced problems especially with the repayment of credit you will normally have to resolve this before lenders are prepared to give you additional credit. Different loan and credit card companies have different lending criteria. Some will only look at the recent past history while others will look back much further. Others will be willing to lend despite recent repayment difficulties. It is useful to realise that even if you have had problems with repaying unsecured debt such as a personal loan or credit card, this should not preclude you from taking a mortgage. There are many mortgage lenders who will provide a mortgage without the need for a “squeaky clean” credit file. However, their charges and rates may be higher than a standard high street lender.

Can My Rating Be Repaired?

There are a number of companies who claim to be able to repair poor credit ratings. Be very careful of such claims (and beware of bogus credit repair companies). The only way to improve your credit rating is to resolve any issues with your current lenders. This will mean undertaking some kind of debt repayment or settlement plan. The credit reference agencies will normally not make changes to your file without the agreement of the current lenders that the change is factually correct.