An agreement between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the industry means consumers will now have easier access to their credit reports. Continued free access to credit reports for victims of ID fraud and the financially vulnerable has also been secured by the government.
Credit reference agencies and consumer groups have committed to work together to raise awareness of the importance of checking credit records.
Consumer Minister Edward Davey said:
“These are highly beneficial changes. All consumers now have easier access to their £2 statutory credit reports, with victims of ID fraud and the financially vulnerable receiving free access to their reports. These significant improvements will help consumers take better control of their finances.”
Credit reports allow consumers to monitor their financial commitments by viewing, for example, what credit commitments they have outstanding and any late payments they have made. It is important as the information held on their credit reports may affect their ability to access further credit or get the best deals in the future.
Previously, statutory credit reports for £2 were only available by post, which could take seven days to arrive.
Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? Chief Executive said:
‘This should provide a quicker and more convenient access for consumers to their credit file, and could encourage more people to check their file more regularly. This is a welcome initiative in the battle against fraud and the elimination of faulty data.’
Notes to editors:
1) Consumers have a statutory right to access a copy of their credit report under the terms of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The charge under the statutory scheme for consumers to access their credit report is £2. This covers a proportion of the administration costs.
2) In the July 2009 Consumer White Paper the Government committed to working with the credit reference agencies (CRAs) to improve peoples’ access to understanding of their credit reports.
3) A case study from the credit report agency Equifax, which has been offering £2 statutory reports online since February 2010 can be found below. Both case studies are available for interview and can be contacted via Louise Fowler at Harrison Sadler on 020 8977 9132.
4) Free reports will be offered to those referred by debt advice agencies, which Experian has done since 1996.
5) The three credit reference agencies are online at:
6) BIS’ online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See http://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom for more information.
6) Case Studies
John lives in South East London and obtained a copy of his £2 statutory credit report online after fraudsters managed to open a bank account in his name and subsequently used this to set up mobile phone contracts, defrauding the mobile phone companies out of thousands of pounds.
“Becoming involved in this sort of fraud was a real shock, you never expect it will happen to you. As I could look at my credit report instantly online it provided me with the reassurance and peace of mind that no other fraudulent activity was happening in my name. I certainly found the process of ordering my statutory report from Equifax’s website straightforward and convenient.”**
A local government worker, John Lynch, from Walton, Surrey was thinking about getting finance for some home improvements. He was already aware of the role of credit information in the application process and had previously obtained a copy of his statutory credit report by post. He was, therefore, really pleased to see that Equifax was now offering access to his £2 statutory report online instantly - so he could check that all the information held on him was correct straight away and then get on with making applications for new finance.
“It was so easy and convenient to access my credit report online for just £2. In the past I had ordered my statutory report through the post and whilst it only took 7 days that’s still a bit of a delay when you just want to get on with making an application for new finance. So being able to do the whole thing online - including accessing the report so that I could check that all the details about my current credit status were correct - was great!”
Notes to Editors
BIS Press Office
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
020 7215 5363