Credit And Finance Myths

Here at Moolr, we are amazed at at the number of credit and finance myths we regularly read online. We thought it time to debunk a few of them.

Blacklists

At some point you have probably heard about these infamous “blacklists” that people are listed on if they deferred on payments or have a poor financial history. There is no such thing as this list, and any organisation will simply assess your individual credit rating when deciding whether to enter into a contract. Credit reference agencies only display factual information about people, most of which is provided by lenders. In addition, credit ratings do not take into account race, ethnic origin, religion or gender.

Three quarters of all people surveyed by Which? in 2013 believed that having a bad credit rating automatically meant being “blacklisted” by lenders. Those that consider bankruptcy often also think this gains them entry to a mythical blacklist.

Previous occupants of your address could have a negative effect on your credit rating

They don’t. The only reason a previous occupant would appear on your credit report would be if you had a financial link with them – otherwise, it is not something to consider. The only relevance of an address is your time spent there – the longer the better, as lenders like stability, one example of which is a long residence at a single address.

Paid-off debts don’t count towards a credit report

Many actually do. A bankruptcy, or a similar IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) stays on a report for six years. Indeed, paying off a debt with regular on-time payments can potentially improve your credit rating, as it shows trustworthiness towards lenders.

The less you have borrowed, the better credit you should have

It may seem strange, but lenders prefer people who have borrowed in the past. This is because this allows them to see reliable spenders, whereas those who haven’t borrowed have no evidence of how reliable they would be, should they apply for some form of credit. After all, the referencing agencies don’t have access to any savings or investment information, so only have the credit report to go off. Regular credit with timely repayments is a near-guarantee of a good credit report (providing you are on the electoral roll, don’t move about much and have no criminal record!).

People who live with you can affect your credit rating

Living with someone does not automatically create a financial connection and thus does not affect your credit report. Only if you have a tangible financial connection would it affect the report. If you have joint financial ties, then it is feasible that a lender will look at their credit report too when assessing an application, as their circumstances could influence your ability to make repayments. If a person you live with is somehow affecting your credit score when they shouldn’t be, you can have a “Notice of Disassociation” placed on your credit report, which removes ties from the other person.

Everyone has one set credit score

Not true. As mentioned elsewhere, each lender has its own criteria when deciding whether to accept an application, and even a single lender will have different criteria for different products, so your “score” could vary from lender to lender and from product to product. Experian, Equifax and CallCredit are the three main credit agencies, and whilst the majority of the information on each company’s report will be the same, whether it’s a bankruptcy, missed payment or a person has never taken out credit, there may be some slight differences with some offering extra information drawn from other sources.

Items stay on your credit file forever

Finance myths don’t come more obvious than this. As far as lenders are concerned, the purpose of a credit report is to ascertain whether a person seems reliable enough to borrow money. That means right at that moment and in the coming years. It is of little interest to them what that person was like 20 years ago as naturally, people change. As documented elsewhere, financial information can stay on reports for six years, but it certainly does not sit there forever.

You can repair your credit rating

Strictly speaking, this is true, but there is no quick-fix. There are numerous ways to try and “fix” your credit rating. The most logical starting point is to obtain a free credit report – Experian, Callcredit and Equifax all do free trials where you can access your report. Check it for mistakes and inform the credit agencies if you find anything you think shouldn’t be there.

Additionally, there are other steps to take. If you’re not on the electoral roll, then get on it. Check addresses on older accounts if you have moved house in recent year., You may not be getting bills and thus be paying them late. Cancel unused credit cards. Do not make rapid applications as this will project an image of desperation to potential lenders. Pay your bills on time. Ensure you have a landline phone and try to avoid having financial ties with anyone with a mixed credit history. Finally, always stay within credit limits and always be truthful on applications. Otherwise you are putting your rating at risk and it could even be considered a fraudulent act.

All this takes time. You can slowly repair your rating, but missed payments or CCJS will stay on your credit report whatever you do for six years, so sometimes you just have to wait. Companies that claim to be able to transform your credit rating in 30 days are a waste of money.

It is possible to have a late payment taken off your history by phoning the lender to have it removed. They might agree for a distant missed payment as they wish to keep you as a customer using their card/product. Otherwise you just have to wait. If you have debts, meet them head on and seek advice.

A rejected financial application will damage my credit rating

A common misconception is that a rejection will not only damage your rating but also, as a consequence, ruin any chance of getting credit elsewhere. This isn’t the case. A search made by any company on your credit history leaves a mark. But it is a very small one (as discussed in the next myth). It would take repeated applications for finance to leave a bigger dent. Thus, such actions are not recommended (as it also suggests financial desperation to potential lenders). If a lender rejects you for a loan to name one example, the rejection will not show on your report. It will merely show that they have done a search. They could however work it out by seeing that you didn’t take out the product you applied for. The type of credit you applied for will also appear on your credit report.

If I check my credit score it will lower my rating

No. There are two types of credit searches, soft and hard. A hard search is done by someone who will potentially be granting you credit. Example include a bank, credit card company, car dealership, etc. A soft search is done by someone who needs to know your score, but will not be granting you credit. Examples include a utilities company, a mobile phone company, etc. When a hard search will lower your score, a soft search will not. You checking your score is most definitely not a hard search!

We hope that by showing just a few credit and finance myths, we have helped you gain a better understanding of financial matters. There were probably many other myths we didn’t cover!