Introducing your Data Self

Unlocking the opportunities in your financial data

At Experian we believe that data should be a force for good. We want to help people understand the positive role that it can play in their lives and how it can help improve their financial circumstances.

In this interactive guide, we shed some light on common misconceptions around the role financial data plays in people's lives and how a credit score is constructed. We also explain the concept of your “Data Self” - the version of you out there made up entirely of your financial data - and offer some advice as to how to best work with that “Data Self” so that it’s in the best shape it can be.

Our findings are from consumer research by Censuswide, commissioned by Experian in November 2017, using a sample of 3,000 UK consumers

What is personal data?

With the digital interactions that take place every day, we leave a trail of personal data wherever we go.

Each time you interact with the digital world, whether that's through a phone, computer, tablet, or any connected device, you're creating data with your activity.

Personal data means any piece of information that can be used to identify an individual. You create it when you’re exercising, listening to music online, messaging friends or doing anything that involves a smartphone or connected device.

An increasing number of everyday objects are now connected to the Internet, meaning the quantity of data created continues to grow. By 2020, Intel estimates that there will be 200 billion Internet-connected devices on the planet. It might not be long before your fridge, car or washing machine are hooked up to the Internet and generating personal data, (or perhaps they already are).

At Experian we process over 1.5 billion records a year. We’re passionate about data – as a force for good, as a tool to empower and improve people’s lives – but we know it’s not always the most exciting topic for you. That’s why we commissioned research asking the views of 3,000 people in the UK about personal data, with a particular focus on their attitudes to their financial data footprint. In the following sections we’ll talk more about Brits’ attitudes to their personal data, and look in more detail at the financial data that goes to make up a credit report – your Data Self.

Personal data means any piece of information that can be used to identify an individual.

We’re a nation of “egosurfers”

The study found that people are naturally curious about what their data says about them. There’s even a name for it - “egosurfing”, which describes the activity of looking up your name on a search engine. Nearly three quarters (72%) have searched for themselves online.

On average, people update their online image 168 times a year - that’s a big increase in their personal data footprint.

The most common reason for “egosurfing” was curiosity (81%). Far fewer people (21%) said they searched for themselves to help protect their online reputation. Other reasons given included research into ancestry, checking who has the same name as them and “for a laugh”.

Many of those surveyed also enjoy having a nose around for online information about friends, family and acquaintances, with 71% admitting to checking someone out online before meeting them. A further 60% have searched for someone they went to school with but no longer speak to, and 39% have searched for an ex-partner online.

Infographic
79%

of Brits care about their online image and nearly one in five hope to impress people with their online image.

Who do you check out online?

Searches Brits admit to carrying out on their contacts in order of popularity:

Infographic check icon

60%School friends they no longer speak to

40%Dates

39%Ex-partner

37%Partners

33%Boss

32%Sibling

Showing your age?

Our research shows different generations are most likely to...

Care a lot about their online profile(Ages 16-24)

Understand the value of their online data(Ages 25-34)

Always read the Ts and Cs(Ages 55+)

Different generations have different attitudes to data

The younger generation in particular value their online profile; 24% of 16-24 year olds care a great deal about it, compared to just 13% of those aged 55 or over. It may not come as a surprise that those aged 25-34 are also savvier about the value their data brings and feel more in control of it than their elders; 86% of this age group think their online data is important to them, compared to 61% of those over 55.

Those under 25 are much more likely to take a laissez-faire approach to reviewing the conditions of sharing their data to download a new app; 39% of 16-24 year olds never read the Ts&Cs, compared to only 16% of those over 55.

Financial data - why you should be interested

Although many people are drawn to researching their online profiles, and those of others, understanding what their financial data says about them does not hold the same appeal. The study found that 24% of people are bored by the topic of financial data and a fifth never talk about their financial data. Some find it confusing (19%); others are fearful of it (9%).

16% of people believe they have no influence on their financial data. That's a misconception. Whether you are looking for a mortgage, planning a family or making any life-changing decision, your financial data matters because it influences what types of deals and offers you can access. While it might sound dull to spend time understanding how to manage your financial data, it can actually be life-changing.

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24%

of people are bored by the topic of financial data and a fifth never talk about their financial data.

Infographic
16%

of people believe they have no influence on their financial data. This is a misconception

Meet your Data Self

You may not know it yet, but out there in the world exists a version of you that you may never have met. Your Data Self.

There’s another version of you made up entirely of your financial data, which we call your “Data Self”. It’s made up of your credit card transactions, phone contracts, mortgages and loans, as well as other financial information.

Your Data Self can be really important when it comes to the big financial events and decisions you face in your life. That’s because it is used to create your credit report; important information that lenders use to decide whether you can access the services or products you want. (See section below “Your credit report and your Data Self”). Your Data Self is constantly evolving, based on your credit information, which includes your borrowing activity.

Understanding and improving your Data Self could make all the difference between getting a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ from lenders, and could even help you unlock better borrowing rates. That’s because lenders' decisions about whether you can afford something are made from the financial data available about you.

Improve your Data Self

What is your Data Self?

Your Data Self is made up of things like your credit history and financial information. It can have a big impact on your life. Companies look to your Data Self to help them decide whether to give you a mortgage or whether your payment plan should be accepted.

Get to know your Data Self

Improve your Data Self

There’s things you can do to get your Data Self into shape.

There’s things you can do to get your Data Self into shape and improve your chances of getting access to the credit or financial services you want. Actions you can take include: paying off debt and keeping monthly balances low on any cards, meeting all regular monthly payments, as well as getting onto the electoral roll at your current address.

Understand your credit score

Checking your credit score with a credit reference agency on a regular basis is an important step in taking control of your Data Self, as it gives an idea of how lenders may view you. Currently a fifth of people never talk about their financial data.

A credit score gives you an idea of how lenders may view your Data Self for a broad range of important services and life essentials such as credit cards, loans, mortgages, car financing and even mobile phone contracts. In essence, it is a number that reflects the likelihood of you paying credit back.

What is a good credit score?

The higher your credit score, the more chance of being accepted for credit, at the best rates. The Experian Credit Score runs from 0-999 and is based on your Experian Credit Report.

7561 is the average score, which is in the “fair” category, but might not get the best rates.

You can find out more about the scoring system here.

Understand your credit score

There’s plenty you can do to get your Data Self into shape.

Lenders call upon your Data Self to help them determine whether to approve your credit application

Lender graphic

Find out your free Experian Credit Score to give you an idea of how lenders may view your Data Self.

Your free Experian Credit Score

1Experian Analytics, covering the period 1 July to 28 October 2017. Sample of 1.98 million comparison services customers

What is a good credit score?

The higher your credit score, the more chance of being accepted for credit, at the best rates. The Experian Credit Score runs from 0-999 and is based on your Experian Credit Report.

7561 is the average score, which is in the “fair” category, but might not get the best rates.

You can find out more about the scoring system here.

Tips for better management of your Data Self

Follow these steps to get your Data Self into shape and ensure it is ready for when you next face a financial decision.

Find out your Experian Credit Score and check it regularly

Once you know what it is and what it means you can take steps to improving it, if you need to. You can access it for free here. For more information, you can view your statutory credit report for £2 here.

Correct errors in your report:

Experian goes to great lengths to ensure that information in your Experian Credit Report is as accurate as possible but it is important to check it yourself. Tell us if an entry is incorrect and we will dispute it for you with the lender. You can also add a notice of correction to your report if you'd like to provide any additional information about its contents.

Ask the lender to provide a reason

if you are refused for a loan. Consult this free guidance tool for further information here.

Break the link to previous partners

with whom you were financially linked but are not any longer. You will need to ask for a 'financial disassociation' with all three credit reference agencies.

Make sure you look around for a deal that you’re more likely to be accepted for.

Each lender uses different lending criteria. Use Experian’s free comparison service to give you an idea of your eligibility for the credit card or personal loan you are interested in without damaging your score. Experian is a credit broker, not a lender.†

Use Experian CreditExpert to protect your Data Self against fraud.

Paid-for services such as web monitoring help make sure your personal information is protected. Experian CreditExpert alerts you to certain changes on your credit report which could indicate fraud. Subscribers can call our UK based team for help and guidance about how to improve their Experian Credit Score.

† Experian acts as a credit broker and not a lender in the provision of its credit cards and personal, car finance and guarantor loans comparison services, meaning it will show you products offered by lenders and other brokers.

Experian acts independently and although our comparison service shows products for a range of lenders and other brokers it does not cover the whole of the market, meaning other products may be available to you. Comparison services are provided free however we will receive commission payments from lenders or brokers we introduce you to.

Your credit report and your Data Self

Your credit report is used to calculate your Experian Credit Score. Your report brings together data on your previous borrowing over the last six years to give an overview of your credit history - the same information lenders could use when they call upon your Data Self. You can view your statutory credit report for £2 here.

I was given lots of information explaining how lenders use credit information and also that lenders often have their own criteria that does not necessarily reflect your credit score. Ray

Proactively raise your Experian Credit Score by:

  • Registering to vote
  • Paying your bills on time
  • Keeping your credit balances low, below 50% of the limit if you can
  • Limiting how many credit applications you apply for at any given time and space them out.

For more hints and tips on improving your credit score click below.

Learn more

What's in your credit report?

Public data

What?

Whether you are registered on the electoral register and between which dates. Public financial records including court judgments and insolvencies.

Why?

So lenders can check your name, addresses and periods of residency. Public financial records show lenders bankruptcy details and court judgments.

Industry created data

What?

Services and products you use, such as bank accounts, credit cards, utilities, mobile phones, loans and mortgages, including age of account, payment history and current balances.

There’s no breakdown of what you’re buying or paying for; only how much you borrowed and whether the money was paid off.

Why?

To help lenders make responsible lending decisions.

Credit card data indicates how people manage their credit - for instance, whether it is maxed out or paid off regularly.

Consumer contributed data from you

What?

You can add a 'notice of correction' to an entry on your credit report to register extra information that you want a lender to be aware of and take into account when you apply for credit.

Why?

Often used in circumstances like a relationship breakdown or redundancy.

Derived data

What?

Created by Experian or the other credit reference agency behind the report, this logs all regular access to your credit report data, such as credit applications

Any addresses financially linked to you, as well as those you lived at in the last six years are listed.

Any other names you’ve used in the past.

The names of any other people your credit report is associated with.

Why?

To help companies verify your identity and understand more about your financial history. Only searches where an application is made for credit can affect your score.

True or false? Credit report scoring

Test your knowledge of credit reports and their importance with this true or false quiz.

There is a credit blacklist

Previous occupants of your home affect your score

Credit reference agencies don’t make lending decisions

Checking your credit report damages your score

Credit reports in numbers:

300

The approximate number of credit providers who share information with Experian

999

The highest score available for an Experian Credit Score

988,0202

The number of UK residents who searched for credit cards, loans and mortgages using Experian comparison services between July and October 2017

1.1 million3

The average number of people who access their Experian Credit Report over a three-month period in the UK

2Experian internal data, covering the period 1 July to 28 October 2017

3Experian internal data

Love me, love my Data Self

When you’re making financial decisions with a partner, you need to understand the link between your Data Self and theirs. The truth is you only become financially linked to someone when you apply for joint credit or when you open a joint account. These financial associations remain on your credit report until you tell the credit reference agency that the link has ended. It is important to break the link to previous partners with whom you were financially linked.

Love me Data Self

Protect your Data Self

ID fraud is the fastest growing crime in the UK, but a few simple habits can help to protect you from risk.

ID fraud is the fastest growing crime in the UK4. Given these figures, it is not surprising that 59% are concerned about identity theft and 32% feel concerned about privacy when they think about data5. In fact, 24% of those surveyed had been a victim of an online security breach.

Once fraudsters have access to your personal details they can attempt to take money from your bank account or even take credit out in your name, potentially affecting your finances and your Data Self. Left unprotected and unresolved, your Data Self could be damaged, meaning you may struggle to get credit in the future.

Keeping an eye on your personal details and knowing what's on your Experian Credit Report can help reduce the impact of fraud. A CreditExpert subscription alerts you to certain changes on your Experian Credit Report that could indicate fraud and provides dedicated fraud support and web monitoring to help make sure your personal information is protected.

Keeping data secure

A few simple habits such as strengthening your online passwords, only downloading apps from reputable stores and maintaining strict privacy settings on your social media accounts can help to protect you from identity fraud. In this Experian guide we've rounded up more advice from the police, the government, ActionFraud, Take 5 and our Experian fraud experts to bring you the dos and don'ts of protecting yourself against identity fraud.

Keeping an eye on your personal details and knowing what's on your Experian Credit Report can help protect your Data Self.

4https://www.met.police.uk/globalassets/downloads/fraud/the-little-book-of-big-scams.pdf

5Censuswide data, commissioned by Experian November 2017, sample of 3,000 UK consumers

How Experian can help

With the digital interactions that take place every day, we leave a trail of personal data wherever we go.

Congratulations! You should now have a better understanding of your Data Self, why it matters and how best to control it. Here’s a quick summary in case you missed anything:

Understanding personal data

Personal data means any piece of information that can be used to identify an individual. You create it when you’re exercising, listening to music online, messaging friends or doing anything that involves a smartphone or connected device. People are naturally curious about what their data says about them. There’s even a name for it - “egosurfing”, which is popular with nearly three quarters (72%) of the population.

Financial data is far from boring

While 24% of people are bored by the topic of financial data, it can actually be life-changing. Taking a more proactive approach to managing it is vital for planning for the future, and thinking about key life moments in life, such as buying a new car, having a baby, paying for university fees, or retirement.

Understanding your Data Self

Your Data Self is made up of things like your credit history and financial information. While we keep this information secure for you and strictly control who can access it, it can and does regularly impact your life. For example, lenders look to your Data Self to help them decide whether to give you a mortgage, or whether your payment plan should be accepted.

Improve your Data Self

There's plenty you can do to get your Data Self into shape and improve your chances of getting access to the credit or financial services you want. Actions include: checking your credit score, paying off debt and keeping monthly balances low on any cards, meeting all regular monthly payments and checking you are on the electoral roll at your current address.

Protect your Data Self

ID fraud is the fastest growing crime in the UK. Protect your Data Self by keeping an eye on your personal details and knowing what's on your Experian Credit Report. Paid-for services such as web monitoring help make sure your personal information is protected. CreditExpert alerts you to certain changes on your credit report that could indicate fraud.

Unlocking financial opportunities:

We’re here to help you unlock the opportunity that your Data Self can create. We offer different products to help you understand your credit situation and how you can improve it.

  • The first step is signing up for your free Experian Credit Score to give you an indication of how lenders view your financial history.
  • Experian’s comparison and eligibility services show how likely you are to be accepted for particular credit cards and personal loans, removing much of the guesswork. Experian is a credit broker, not a lender.
  • Access budgeting tips to help you manage your finances and plan for the future.
  • The #AskExperian videos have lots of finance hints and tips, answering questions including “What kind of credit cards should I get?”, “What is an APR?”, “How can moving abroad affect my credit rating?”
  • Through this guide, we hope to have shown you that data can empower, helping you to take control of your personal finances, so you can make the best choices for your future. Is it time you got to know your Data Self a little better?

To inspire you, here are some people who’ve got to know their Data Self and how it’s helped them:

"I have been through a few rough years financially and emotionally and ended up with an extremely low score I have been slowly trying to rebuild my life and my score. On a few occasions I have phoned and asked for advice and help and been greeted with happy helpful and understanding non-judgemental call handlers. I'm glad to say now with their help I am well on the road to recovery. Thank you to you all for caring." Julie

“Thanks to Experian I can monitor and receive by email information about my credit score and made me understood how credit score is rated and how actually works in order to raise my credit score. If when I registered with Experian my credit was “fair” now thanks to you guys I’ve been able to get proper advice and build my score to “good” (almost “excellent”). Now I can look forward to apply in the future for car loan or mortgage without having fears. Thank you so much Experian!” Sergiu Dan

“I use your services for anti fraud and not for credit ratings. Having been a victim of fraud your alerts are a lifeline and provide peace of mind. I rely on your services to provide me with any info I need to take action on.” Jane

“I was given lots of information explaining how lenders use credit information and also that lenders often have their own criteria that does not necessarily reflect your credit score.” Ray

“I used Experian for quite a long time to ensure our credit ratings were good to move forward after being in debt for a long time. I took note on how to do things as we were planning at one stage to buy our house. I have a photo of the time my rating actually went to 999 - hard work but helped by your advice. Thank you.” Sue

“You provide up-to-date and accurate information about my personal financial circumstances. Over the past few years I have by monitoring and reviewing my credit score managed the score to over 900 and kept check on and managed my lines of credit. I did not appreciate the number of organisations that use Experian to check you out and now that I know the process I can use Experian to drive better deals and secure satisfactory credit lines if and when they are required.” Greg

“Excellent service which provides piece of mind in respect of my finances.” Robert