Protecting yourself from problem credit due to gambling

Introduction: problem gambling and credit

If you have a problem with gambling, you may find yourself applying for credit to fund this activity. This can lead to financial difficulty, unpaid debts and serious legal and personal consequences.

For this reason, you may want potential lenders to know that you don’t want any credit from them. You can do this by adding a Notice of Correction (NOC) to your credit report.

This is short statement that we can add to your credit report for you. All lenders checking your credit report will see it and are required to take what you have written into account.

Do I have to mention gambling in the NOC?

What you write in your NOC is your choice. To help you make that choice, this guide will describe some of the things you may want to consider when writing your NOC. It will also explain which organisations may be able to see your NOC once it’s been added.

Do I need to contact all the Credit Reference Agencies?

You will need to register a separate NOC with all three main UK credit reference agencies - Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

You can use the same text when you contact us all. Just remember that if you change or remove an NOC, you will need to do it with all three agencies.

This guide will walk you through how to add, change or remove an NOC. It will also give an estimate of how long it will take for the Credit Reference Agencies to register, change, or delete a NOC.

Who else can help with problem gambling?

At the end of this guide, we list the contact details for expert gambling support services. We also explain how your existing lenders can help you.

Finally, we also provide contact information for free debt advice organisations – if you’re in financial difficulty, it's never too late to seek help or support.

FAQs

To help you decide whether a NOC is the right option for you, we’ve answered the following common questions:

What is a Notice of Correction?

A Notice of Correction (NOC) is a statement of up to 200 words. At Experian we attach it to one or more specific entries on your Experian Credit Report, for example, a current account or credit card.

You can use a NOC to explain information on your credit report. Or you can use it to share information about your situation that you want lenders to consider.

How do lenders use a Notice of Correction?

Lenders will see the NOC when you apply for credit (such as a credit card, loan or mortgage).

If the lender uses credit scoring to automatically assess a credit application, the presence of a NOC will mean the application has to be looked at by a person.

The NOC doesn’t mean the lender will automatically refuse the application for credit. However, the lender is required to look at what you have written and to take this into account:

  • Applications will be slowed down - as the NOC means the application has to be looked at by a person, this means it will probably slow the down the application for credit (this will help in situations where you may have applied for credit ‘on an impulse’).
  • NOCs should be read and taken into account - if your NOC states you do not want any lender to provide you with credit, then this should be read and taken into account.
  • Every lender is different – while we cannot guarantee how any particular lender will treat your NOC, they should at least take what you have written into account.

How long does a NOC stay on my credit report?

The NOC will stay on your report until you tell us to remove it. There is exception to this.

With Experian the NOC is added to a specific account. If the account is closed in the future, it gets removed from the report six years after it’s closed. If this happens, your NOC will be removed with it.

How can I avoid this happening?

Six years is a long time, so if your NOC is attached to an account on your credit report that is now closed (or likely to be removed), you can tell us to move the NOC to another account.

If an NOC is removed with an account, you can re-add the NOC at any time.

Could a NOC be seen by firms outside financial services?

Yes. For example, this could include a mobile phone provider who checks your credit report before opening a monthly contract. Or if a gas and electricity supplier makes a check when you open an account.

If you are concerned about this, you may want to talk in advance to your mobile phone provider or gas and electricity supplier to explain your situation.

You also have the option to remove the NOC before applying.

Could an employer see my NOC?

Some employers may check your credit report as part of their background-checking process. This is usually a check of any ‘public-record’ entries (for example, court judgments or insolvencies.

However, if the employer is an organisation that shares customer-payment information with the credit reference agencies (e.g. a bank that shares current accounts and credit cards), then it can check your full credit report. You would need to give them permission to do this.

If you’re worried about an employer seeing your NOC, then you may want to use general rather than specific wording. Or if you’re applying for jobs in the future, you could consider removing beforehand.

If you do this, remember it will typically take 2-4 weeks to either remove a NOC, or make a change to it.

If you have any questions about adding a gambling NOC after reading this guide then please visit our contact page to get in touch.

How do I add a NOC with Experian?

If a NOC is the right option for you, follow the steps below to get one added to your credit report.

Step 1 – Getting a reference number

To add a NOC to your credit report, you will need an Experian reference number. We need to make sure you have this so we can authenticate your identity before adding anything to your credit report.

You may already have the reference number if you have:

  • Received an Experian statutory report within the last three months,
  • If you have a Free Experian Account, or
  • You have CreditExpert subscription.
If you don’t have a reference number, it is easy to get one.

Important notice: if you choose to apply for a Free Experian Account, we recommend that you ‘opt-out’ of all marketing or product related materials during the sign-up process. Also, if we can’t confirm your identity for a Free Experian Account, or you want to see your full credit report, then you should apply for a statutory credit report using the details above.

Step 2 – How to add, change or remove your NOC

Adding

Now you have your Experian reference number, you can submit your NOC by using the form below.

A NOC can be up to 200 words and should only include relevant, factual information. As long as it is not incorrect, defamatory or irrelevant, what you write on your NOC is your choice. It’s a good idea to focus on what you want the potential lender to consider.

We have provided examples of suggested wording below.

You do not have to specifically mention gambling in your NOC. However, you can include this information if you decide that you want to. For example, your NOC could say:

  • EXAMPLE ONE: “I do not want any lender to provide me with credit, loans, or money. If I apply for credit, please DO NOT provide me with this.”
  • EXAMPLE TWO: ‘I do not want any lender to provide me with credit, loans, or money. If I apply for credit, please contact me to discuss the application in more detail.”
  • EXAMPLE THREE: “I do not want any lender to give me access to short-term high-cost credit products. Please DO NOT provide me with credit from these”.

You do not have to specifically mention gambling in your NOC. However, you can include this information if you decide that you want to.

When you submit the NOC, we will attach it to an account entry on your Experian Credit Report, for example, a current account, credit card or another long-standing account.

Once added, the NOC will stay on your credit report for as long as the account(s) it is attached to appear, or unless you ask for it to be removed sooner. We will confirm which account we have added the statement to.

It will take us 2-4 weeks to add a NOC (and a similar time to change or remove).

Optional - Making changes to your NOC

If things change in the future you may want to change the wording of your NOC.

If you decide to do this, you have two choices. You can either use the same form that we introduced in the last section (when adding a NOC). Or you can write to us at the address we previously listed.

If you change your NOC, you’ll need to notify the other credit reference agencies of the changes so they can update it too.

You can also change the account(s) that your NOC is attached to. Again, you can use the same form as before or you can write to us.

As before, it will take 2-4 weeks to change or update a NOC.

Optional - Remove your NOC

You can remove your NOC at any time.

For example, if you’ve overcome your gambling problems and are confident that you won’t take out new credit that may result in problems, you can remove the NOC.

Or, as explained before, there may be times that you wish to temporarily remove the NOC – like if you apply for a job where a background financial check is likely.

To remove the NOC, complete the form, or write to us using the same address as before.

When doing either of these, make sure you include details such as what account the NOC has been added to and what it is about. This will make it easier for us to remove the NOC.

It will take us 2-4 weeks to remove a NOC. You will need to notify the other credit reference agencies if you want to remove the NOC.

Important notice: just so you know, NOCs can be used to explain other circumstances too, such as a missed payment due to illness or holiday. If you want to add an NOC for any of these reasons you can also do this using our regular contact page.

Add a NOC

Other forms of help

If you feel you need more support or advice there are a few options you can take.

Free support

If you are struggling with a gambling problem there are lots of organisations that can give free support.

Visit the NHS guide for help on problem gambling, including resources.

GamCare is the leading national provider of information, advice, support and free treatment for anyone affected by problem gambling. Their services are confidential and non-judgemental.

BeGambleAware offers free and confidential help and support. Contact the National Gambling Helpline for free on 0808 8020 133.

Gamblers Anonymous run UK meetings and an online forum. Details of meetings and the forum can be found at: www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk

The Gambling Commission also offers a useful page for help and guidance including links and phone numbers.

The Vulnerability Registration Service helps vulnerable people protect themselves from financial hardship by sharing information on their status with lenders and other relevant organisations.

Get help from your lender

If you are struggling financially because of a gambling problem then contact your lenders immediately. A number of banks and card providers are now supporting customers by allowing them to add ‘gambling blocks’ to their accounts, including Lloyds Bank, Monzo Bank, Barclays, and Starling.

Free financial help

You may already be in some level of financial difficulty. Whether it’s because of your gambling or not, there are lots of places to get free advice, and help.

Visit the Money Advice Service website for a list of organisations that provide free help with problem debt, including services local to you.

Help on your electronic devices

You can now install software on your personal devices (laptop, phone, tablet) to help block access to gambling sites. Visit GamBlock to find out more.