If you feel that your credit report is wrong, the normal first step is to ask the lender to put this right.
But when the lender is in administration, the administrators may not respond to requests from you to correct your credit files. And if the lender has been liquidated, there is no-one for you to contact.
Here the Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) should help if you ask them to. Incorrect reporting is against the data protection rules.
Problems that need correcting
Some of the possible reasons for an incorrect credit record include:
- the debt has been settled but it still shows as open;
- the lender had agreed to delete the credit record or to remove the default before administration but didn’t do this;
- identity theft – you never took that debt out in the first place;
- the default date isn’t correct;
- the lender should have not have given you the debt as it was unaffordable but it is too late to make a claim in the administration.
You need to check those reports, not other reports such as ClearScore or Credit Karma, because you want to talk directly to the CRA, not through a third party.
First ask the administrators
It is best to first ask the administrators to correct any problem. If this works it will be the fastest option for you. Check the lender’s website to find how to contact them.
For affordability concerns, you should send the administrators a Claim. If this is upheld, the administrators will correct or delete the credit record.
Sometimes the administrators will refuse, saying you need to contact the CRAs.
But if this is late on, then you will not get a reply. For example the Sunny administrators have passed the point in the administration where they reply to CRAs. And Wonga has been liquidated – there is no one anymore to contact.
In this case, you can go to the CRAs and you can say you have tried to resolve the problem with the lender but they don’t reply, or there is no-one to contact.
Will the CRA correct this?
This is what Experian says about correcting data – Equifax and TransUnion say similar things:
We can only change this information once your lender has told us about it, or with their permission.
But when the CRA asks the administrators they are unlikely to get any response… So the CRA has a problem – it can’t leave inaccurate data on your credit record and it can’t correct it unless the lender agrees.
The CRAs get round this by “suppressing” a record. If they do this, the record still exists but it will not be shown to lenders who make a credit check on you.
Ask the CRA to “suppress” the record
Contact the CRAs where the problem is showing:
- Experian – select Get in touch about > Errors on my Experian Credit Report > I think there’s an error with an account;
- Equifax – select Do you still have questions then log in to your account (you will have created one when you asked for a copy of your Statutory Credit Report) and complete the form;
- TransUnion – go through the Disputes process.
Tell the CRA:
- which records are wrong, listing the individual loans.
- explain what is wrong and that you have asked the administrators to correct this on dd/mm/yy but they have not replied/told you to talk to the CRA. Or say administration has ended and the lender no longer exists;
- ask the CRA to “suppress the record” as it is incorrect.
If the CRA refuses (or sends an irrelevant response such as saying the account will be deleted six years after the settlement date), explain again what the problem is and why you need the CRA to suppress the record.
Be persistent – this seems to resolve the problem in the end. Say you want to make a formal complaint if necessary.
The final option if you make a formal complaint and the CRA rejects it is to send the complaint against the CRA – not the original lender – to the Financial Ombudsman. I haven’t come across anyone having to do this when they have asked for a record to be suppressed.
Evidence that may help your complaint
Sometimes there is evidence to support what you are saying.
For example you may have reported identity theft to Action Fraud and have been given a crime reference number. You may have the email from the lender agreeing to delete the record or remove the default.
But sometimes there may be little or no evidence or it may be complicated.
It isn’t clear how much effort the CRAs will put into investigating these complaints. But if your complaint goes to the ombudsman they may ask you for some evidence.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do send the complaint to the administrators first. Especially early in an administration, it may get resolved faster.
Don’t see this as an alternative to sending the administrators an affordability complaint. The process here should only be used if you missed the deadline to claim.
Don’t think this will resolve a problem you have with a debt collector who has bought the debt. It will only affect the credit record with the lender. You will need to complain separately to the debt collector if their record is wrong.
Don’t do this if the lender is still going. This is not a short cut, it will just waste your time. Complain to the lender.