Ask James

James Jones

James Jones, Experian’s Head of Consumer Affairs, answers your frequently asked questions about credit reports, credit ratings and identity fraud. Follow James on Twitter.

For a list of the top questions asked and answered, view James’s top questions page.

Ask James: latest credit questions answered

James Jones

James Jones

Every month Experian’s James Jones answers a selection of your questions about credit and fraud in his ‘ask the experts’ style column here.

Sultana from Ilford wants to register her 17-year-old for a credit report but is unable to – James explains why this is so, and what they can do next.

Bianca from Tunbridge Wells wants to know if her library fine will affect her credit score, while Alan from York has a row of U’s on his credit report and asks Will the status code U on my credit report damage my score?

Anne-Marie from Newcastle-under-Lyme has this question: Can changing bank accounts have an effect on my credit score?, as she wants to apply for car finance later in the year.

See the previous Ask James: questions about claiming benefits and credit rating, changing from PAYG to direct debit, and more.

You can find more Ask James questions answered in our Ask James archive.  If you have a specific question and can’t find an answer here or you wish to contact us to query something on your credit report, please contact us – find all the ways you can contact us here.

I keep getting mail for someone who doesn’t live at my address

By Neil Stone, Social Media Executive

man receives bad news in the post.Post in other people’s names
It’s great to come home and find letters waiting for you on your doorstep but when the letters turn out to be for a previous resident or even someone that has never lived at your address it can be frustrating. If it’s a demand for payment it can also be understandably worrying.

The good news is that as long as you have no financial connection to the individual (such as joint account) then their information will not affect your credit report in anyway.

This is because all credit checks are done by name, and not address, so lenders won’t see or use information relating to the other person when checking your report.

The best thing to do is to return the letter unopened to the sender clearly marked as “not at this address”. The lender should then look for their customer elsewhere.

Sadly we can’t prevent a person from using an address to apply for credit, or stop lenders from contacting their customers at an address, but by regularly returning the post the lender will stop trying to contact them. Continue reading

Ask James: credit questions answered

Every month Experian’s James Jones answers a selection of your questions about credit and fraud in his ‘ask the experts’ style column here.

Jack from Cheadle wanted to know if claiming benefits would affect his credit rating, and would be part of a future credit check.

James from Worthing wants to know why his Experian Credit Score has gone down when nothing has changed with his financial profile, while Susan from Bury St Edmunds asked Why can’t the pre-app checker identify me?, about not being found on a credit card eligibility calculator.

Finally, Diana from Exeter would like to know why she was unable to change her gas meter from pay as you go to direct debit,

You can also find more Ask James questions answered in our Ask James archive.

If you have a specific question and can’t find an answer here or you wish to contact us to query something on your credit report, please contact us – find all the ways you can contact us here.

 

Why do I keep failing my security check with my bank?

Dear James,

When my bank asks me security questions I always fail, even though I know what they say about me is incorrect. When I dispute this they advise me the information comes from my credit report. The information on my credit report is clearly incorrect. How can I get access to it and correct any errors? 

Adrian, London

 

Dear Adrian,

Sorry to hear you’re having problems confirming your identity with your bank. It’s important for banks and lenders to take steps to verify your details when you get in touch to help keep your money and details safe.

When you first open an account it is quite common for companies to carry out quite rigorous checks which can include asking questions based on the contents of your credit report held by one of the three credit reference agencies. Now if, as you suggest, questions and answers based on your credit report suggest there may be some incorrect information held about you it would be a good idea to order a copy of your report from the agency in question and check it through very carefully. If you do this and spot any discrepancies you can ask the agency to help you put this right.

It’s important for the information on your credit report to be accurate and up to date. The easiest way to check your report is online, where you’ll find more information about your options including obtaining a copy of your £2 statutory credit report.  Read more about correcting any mistakes on your credit report in this previous Ask James question.

Once you’ve opened an account with a bank or lender, for example, you usually set up some personal security details, such as a username, password, memorable word and PIN. If you’ve done this and are having problems accessing the account its best you contact the bank’s customer support team for advice as I’m sure they’ll be able to help.

Get tips on keeping your money and details secure when your online from the identity protection area of our website (April 2016)

James Jones Signature

To see the latest questions answered by James, visit our Ask James Q and A section on the blog.

Ask James: latest credit questions answered here

Every month Experian’s James Jones answers a selection of your questions about credit and fraud in his ‘ask the experts’ style column here.

Among the new questions, there is Should a default still be showing on my credit report?, about an old default that was due to disappear.

There is also a query about car finance and credit scoring,  Will voluntary termination of car finance affect my credit score?, and another relating to a debt relief order, Why is my debt relief order still affecting my credit rating?.

You can also find archived Ask James questions arranged under subject headings such as ‘applying for credit’, ‘credit and debt’ and ‘fraud’ at the main Ask James page.

If you have a specific question and can’t find an answer here or you wish to contact us to query something on your credit report, please use our customer service contact form.

Watch James talk to Experian Experts blogger Darren about retirement and your credit report.

Can I remove a CCJ that’s been added in error?

Dear James,

Can a CCJ be removed that was caused by a car insurance company in error? They’ve accepted liability, so what are the next steps?

Dean, Castleford

Dear Dean,

You certainly can apply to have a court judgment removed from your credit report if it relates to a successful car insurance claim. To get your Experian Credit Report updated please obtain a letter from your insurance company confirming they accepted liability for the claim and, importantly, quoting:

  • The value of the judgment
  • The date of the judgment
  • The case number
  • The court where it was entered

Then pop this in the post to us at Experian, PO Box 7710, Nottingham, NG80 7WE and we’ll remove it from your credit report and send you confirmation. Don’t forget to quote your Experian credit report reference number. You’ll need to contact the other credit reference agencies too, to make sure they update the reports they hold for you.  (March 2016)

You can find archived Ask James questions arranged under subject headings such as ‘applying for credit’, ‘credit and debt’ and ‘fraud’ at the main Ask James page.

Will voluntary termination of car finance affect my credit score?

Dear James,

I’ve had a car on finance, but it’s not really suitable for my daily use. Will voluntarily terminating my car finance agreement affect my credit score and could it prevent me from getting another car on finance?

Nicola, Port Glasgow

Dear Nicola,

Ending a car finance agreement early using ‘voluntary termination’ is your legal right, as long as you’ve paid at least half of the total amount due and you hand the car back in satisfactory condition. You should then be left owing nothing and the lender should update your credit report to reflect this. The lender may also add a voluntary termination marker to the entry on your credit report which explains to other lenders why the finance was settled early. Your credit score should not be affected, as long as you have paid all of your monthly payments on time up to the point you hand the keys back, so you should not see any late payments registered. Lastly, unless any lender you approach has a policy of not lending to people who’ve opted for a voluntary termination in the past – and I’ve not seen any evidence of this – then it should not affect your chances of securing credit in the future. (January 2016)

You can find archived Ask James questions arranged under subject headings such as ‘applying for credit’, ‘credit and debt’ and ‘fraud’ at the main Ask James page.

Why is my debt relief order still affecting my credit rating?

Dear James,

I had a debt relief order about two years ago and I don’t understand why it is still saying that my credit rating is bad?

Cherie, Paignton

Dear Cherie,

It’s great that you’ve taken steps to regain control of your finances using a debt relief order (DRO). Assuming this is now fully discharged your debts should have been cleared or at least written off, which is a positive step forward for you. Unfortunately, your credit rating is likely to take a little longer to recover as your credit report looks back over the past six years of your borrowing history. But there may be things you can do to improve your credit rating right now.

Start by checking your credit report to make sure the DRO has been updated as ‘discharged’. If it hasn’t then please tell us. You should find that the accounts that were included in your DRO are shown separately on your report, which is quite usual. These accounts are likely to be shown as defaults, as you broke the terms of your agreements. Like the DRO, defaults stay on your report for six years, from the original date of default. Importantly, any defaults should also be marked as satisfied or partially settled so if any aren’t you should contact the relevant lender. If you need help, ask us to raise a query with them on your behalf. Your credit rating is likely to improve in the short term once the DRO and any individual defaults are marked as cleared, and in the medium term as they get older. Some lenders will rate your most recent credit history more highly than events that took place several years ago. However, some lenders may also have a policy whereby they refuse applicants that have a default on their credit report regardless of how old it is and whether it has been paid or not.

Additionally, if the reason for you defaulting was the result of something out of your control – such as losing your job or a serious illness – you might benefit from explaining this on your credit report. Simply send us a statement of up to 200 words describing any relevant circumstances and we’ll add this to your report. Known as a notice of correction, lenders will see this when they check your report in the future and should factor it in to their decision. Please note we can’t add a statement that is frivolous, factually incorrect or defamatory (January 2016)

You can find archived Ask James questions arranged under subject headings such as ‘applying for credit’, ‘credit and debt’ and ‘fraud’ at the main Ask James page.

How will cancelled Wonga loans affect credit ratings?

Dear James,

Wonga has recently announced it is cancelling loans owed by a number of customers following a review of its lending criteria. Can you tell me what will happen to these people’s credit reports and when, and how this will affect their future credit ratings? Thanks.

Ben, Brighton

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