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In this article, we’ll look at a credit report service called checkmyfile. Checkmyfile is the only multi-agency credit report service in the UK, pulling together information about you from four different credit reference agencies - sometimes called CRAs. We’ll explain how to get set up on checkmyfile, what information you can expect to see and how to manage your checkmyfile account.
Imagine you’re that person you always wished you were, who keeps everything neatly organised and filed in one place - your credit report is that person. Your credit report contains details of every credit account you’ve had in the last six years, all arranged nicely to show monthly repayments, balances and credit facilities.
It will also include any missed or late payments, defaults, CCJs or incidences of insolvency or bankruptcy, which is why it’s so useful for potential lenders who want to get an idea of whether or not they should extend credit to you.
Having an understanding of your credit history and the information held about you in your credit report is vital if you’re thinking about applying for any kind of credit, especially a mortgage. If you know that your credit record isn’t great and that you have defaults or CCJs and may need an adverse credit mortgage, it’s even more important to get a copy of your credit report to get an accurate picture of what potential lenders are going to see.
The difficulty comes in knowing which CRA to go to for the best credit report. The three main agencies in the UK are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Each one holds slightly different information about you, so no single report gives a full picture. Checkmyfile however draws information from all three, plus a fourth agency called Crediva, which specialises in alternative credit scoring models, to give you a much more comprehensive report. Rather than go to each one separately and try to merge the results yourself, you get all the information in one place.
The full checkmyfile service costs £14.99 a month, but you can access a free 30-day trial in the first instance, which is a great starting place to get a snapshot of your current standing. You will need to enter card details when you sign up for the free trial, so if you don’t want to carry on with the service then make sure you cancel before the 30 days elapses.
If you cancel at any point within the free trial, you’ll still have access to the service for the full 30 days. If you’re anxious about giving over your card details and then having to cancel, you can always use our free credit report service instead.
Setting up a checkmyfile account and accessing your credit report is pretty straightforward and shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. From the homepage, click to sign up for an account, and then enter your details, including your full name, date of birth, address and payment details. Remember you won’t be charged anything for the trial, but you will start paying £14.99 a month after 30 days unless you cancel.
You’ll then be taken to a verification page, where checkmyfile checks your identity by asking you a few questions about your current credit accounts.
This will include details of monthly repayments on your mortgage and personal loans if you have any, so make sure you have this information to hand.
You’ll then be asked to provide your address details covering the last six years, to make sure your credit report has a full and accurate picture. Wait around a minute while checkmyfile generates your credit report and you’re ready to go.
When you first see your checkmyfile credit report the first thing you’ll probably notice is your credit score, displayed on a large dial. Checkmyfile uses a scale up to 1,000, taking an average of the scores from each of the CRAs it gathers data from. It’s important to treat this overall score with caution for two reasons.
Firstly, these scores and scales are created by each credit reference agency based on the information they hold about you and their own formula. This is not a universally recognised system and you can not compare credit scores in a like-for-like way from each CRA.
If we look at the three main agencies, not only do they each use different scales, but they have different thresholds within these scales for what is considered a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ credit score.
As you can see, even if you take Equifax and TransUnion, who at first glance appear to have similar scales, you’ll see that a score of 550 for example would be excellent with Equifax but only fair with TransUnion.
Your score is meant to be an at-a-glance way for you to see roughly how your finances are looking, and for you to be able to track improvements. It is NOT a definitive answer to anything, which leads nicely into the second reason to take your credit score with a pinch of salt.
Lenders will not look at this score and make a decision based on it. They may not even see it, although they may see a different score in a bespoke format. They do not have a box that pops up on their computer screen saying ‘does this person have a credit score over 600? If yes then give them a mortgage.’ Instead they will look at the details of your report, when issues occurred, how severe they were and how much money was involved. They’ll also look at any notes that may have been added about the context of the defaults.
Looking at your credit score and assuming that means you can predict whether or not you can get a mortgage is like looking at a weather forecast for the whole of the south of England that says ‘mainly sunny’ and assuming that means you don’t have to take a coat out with you.
The real value, both for you and for lenders, comes from diving deeper into the details of your credit report to look at all the factors that are influencing your score and how they fit into your wider financial picture.
Your checkmyfile credit report will display as one long document, but you can skip between sections using the tabs at the top of the page. Your report will include:
Let’s take a look at exactly what each of these sections means.
Summary - This is where you’ll see your credit score, plus a checklist of all of the information that has been pulled in from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Crediva. Further into your report you’ll notice the initials EQ, EX, TU and CV used as abbreviations to show which agency each piece of information has come from.
Payment history - This is a key section of your credit report as it details all of the accounts you currently have open and those recently closed. You can expand each to show a record of monthly repayments, along with credit limits, balances and any missed payments. You’ll notice that some accounts are registered with multiple CRAs, whilst others might only be held by one or two. For example, only Experian reports information about utilities. This shows why a checkmyfile credit report is such a useful tool.
You’ll notice that your current account is listed, but that your balance isn’t shown, only the amount of any overdraft facility. How much money you have and your income details will never be shown in your credit report. It also won’t include information about your student loans, parking fines, council tax arrears and medical or criminal records.
Addresses - It’s useful to work back through previous addresses and check that these are correct, as otherwise information may be missing or inaccurate.
Financial associations - This section relates to any credit that you share jointly with another person. This is normally a partner and could include a current account with an overdraft facility, a joint mortgage or loans in joint names. The issue here is that if the person you are linked to has bad credit, that could impact your score and make it more difficult for you to obtain credit in the future. If this is the case for you then it’s sensible to try to disassociate yourself from these people if possible. This could mean opening individual accounts instead of having a joint account and aiming to pay off joint loans as quickly as possible.
Court information - The meaty stuff like County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcy and insolvency is stored in this section, so lenders will be paying particularly close attention here. These are the issues that can make it especially difficult to get credit, including mortgages. That’s not to say it’s impossible to get a mortgage after an IVA or bankruptcy, but it can be a lot harder and more expensive. Get in touch if you need help with this as we can research the best bad credit mortgage options for you.
Searches - If lenders carry out any kind of check on your credit report it is logged here as a search. Hard searches are the ones that can potentially impact your rating - these are carried out by lenders assessing credit applications.
Fraud warnings - Evidence of any suspicious activity on your accounts that could be linked to fraud will be displayed here, so this one is important for you to check regularly.
Notices - Most people don’t realise that you can add your own notes to your credit reports to explain the context of missed or late payments, defaults or other credit issues. These notes, called a Notice of Correction, must be under 200 words and your report will give you more information about how to submit them.
Cancelling your checkmyfile account is simple, but not easy to find intuitively on their website. Within your report, click on the settings icon - the grey cog in the top right-hand corner of the screen. You’ll see your personal details along with a box saying ‘Need help with your account?’
Select ‘I would like to manage my subscription’ from the drop-down menu and then ‘I would like to stop my subscription’ from the second menu. A button will appear saying ‘access cancellation page’ - click on this.
You’ll then be asked a few questions about your reason for leaving, and may be offered a price reduction. If you do want to continue with your subscription it might be worth following this process to see if you can get a better offer. Work through these and eventually, you’ll get to a cancellation button.
You can also cancel by sending a secure message through their messaging platform or calling them on their Freephone telephone number 0800 086 9360 during office hours. Make sure that however you cancel, you get a cancellation reference code in confirmation. If you don’t get this then get in touch with them to make sure your request has been processed and you won’t get charged.
We hope that this article has given you some useful information not just about why it’s important to check your credit reports regularly, but some practical tips to help you set up a checkmyfile account and get the most out of your credit report.
Don’t forget that as well as offering our own free credit report service, we can also help to find the right mortgage for you, based on your credit history. Even if you haven’t got the cleanest record, we can help you access specialist poor credit mortgages, mortgages after a default and even a mortgage after bankruptcy. Get in touch today and let us help you find the best mortgage deal for you.
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