Your credit report summarises your financial position and is used by lenders to check your rating to determine if they are willing to lend to you. However, for many people in debt, checking a credit file is a daunting experience.

It’s not uncommon to be worried about your credit score, especially if you’ve missed, or not been able to make your contractual payments towards debts. However, a credit report can be valuable for understanding just how much debt you have.

Credit Referencing Agencies

There are four main credit referencing agencies – Experian, Equifax, Crediva and TransUnion (formerly Call Credit).

The role of the credit referencing agency is to provide a lender with a review of your financial history and creditworthiness.  Once the lender has your credit report they will make a decision on whether they are willing to lend to you. A credit report can be carried out for various types of lending, such as mobile phone contracts, credit cards or a car loan.

Your credit score will quickly highlight whether you have a poor, average or excellent credit rating group. The maximum number (the best) can vary depending on the credit referencing agency. For our advice team to determine the most applicable debt solutions it’s ideal to know how much unsecured debt you have, to which companies and what secured lending you have outstanding. If you’ve not been opening your creditor statements for fear of the debt, then your credit report can often give you a guide as to how much debt you currently have. This can help in determining which debt solutions you may be applicable for.

Free Credit Reports

There are resources and companies that offer free credit reports. Our favourite is Noddle from TransUnion. It’s free for life and offers you your credit rating and score, lists credit you already have, whether you’re on the electoral register, details of people you’re financially linked to and searches which have been conducted over the past two years.

Noddle is excellent because it’s free, however it only covers your credit report with TransUnion / Call Credit. Check My File offers a free 30 day trial and shows you data from all four credit referencing agencies.

We’ve tried both companies and Noddle is certainly our favourite, however, Check My File is useful if there’s a debt or two missing or you want a more comprehensive report. If you do decide to open a Check My File account and don’t wish to pay for it in the future, you will need to cancel your account. The cost is £14.99 per month if you don’t cancel.

If you would like help or advice on your credit file you can speak to Debt Support Trust on 0800 085 0226.