Over nine million UK adults could have mistakes on their credit files

Published  18 January 2023
   4 min read
  • One in three (29%) UK adults surveyed found mistakes on their credit reports
  • A third (33%) have never seen their credit report
  • One in four people (25%) incorrectly think that checking their credit report too often will damage their credit rating

New research from the UK’s largest mutual life, pensions and investment company, Royal London*, shows that over nine million people in the UK could have mistakes on their credit files, which could affect their ability to get credit. Credit providers check consumers’ credit files to help them work out whether or not they are happy to lend to customers. The research found that one in three people (29%) who’d checked their credit report found mistakes on it, while a third (33%) have never seen their credit report at all.

The mistakes included:

  • Name or address inaccuracies (accounted for 10% of the mistakes)
    The listing of a debt or credit agreement that the consumer didn’t have (9%)
  • A wrongly listed missed payment (6%)
  • A default, county court judgment (CCJ) or sequestration that the consumer didn’t have (8%)

The research was carried out with 4,000 adults in the UK, 2,500 of whom had seen their credit report at least once. Out of those people who found a mistake on their file, one in four (25%) said that they tried and failed to get it rectified, whilst almost one in five (18%) didn’t try to get the report corrected. Mistakes can occur for a range of reasons; but typically occur if the information held by the credit provider (and shared with the credit reference agency) is incorrect. This could be an administrative error or simply that you haven’t provided up to date information, such as no longer having a joint account with a partner.

The research also found that a large proportion of people are unaware of their rights to see their credit report and don’t know how to improve their credit rating. Only half of people (51%) know that you don’t have to pay to see your credit report, with over a fifth (22%) believing that you have to pay (with the rest – 27% - saying they don’t know). By law you have the right to see your statutory credit report free of charge.

Only half of people (50%) know that registering to vote on the electoral register can improve your credit rating. Almost one in five (18%) wrongly think that paying for goods and services from their salary or savings could improve their credit score.

Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at Royal London, says:

"It’s concerning that a third of adults in the UK haven’t seen their credit report, as this information is used by credit providers, from mortgage lenders to pay monthly phone contract providers, to work out how risky you are to lend to. It’s particularly worrying because of the level of inaccuracies people found. If you don’t check your credit report, you won’t know whether or not the information is correct.

"Even among those who’ve seen a copy of their credit report, only one in three have checked it with more than one credit reference agency. The three big credit reference agencies don’t always hold the same information, so it’s important to check your report with all three, especially if you’re thinking of applying for credit."

Credit rating tips:

  1. Check your credit report with each of the three main credit reference agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can order your statutory credit report from the credit reference agencies online: 
  2. The benefit of checking your credit report is that you can see the information that lenders and credit providers hold about you, you can check for any mistakes and – if you find any - get them corrected.
  3. Ask for a copy of your credit report a few months before you apply for credit (such as a new mortgage or a car finance deal). That way, if you spot a mistake or information that shows you missed payments, you have time to get the information corrected or add an explanation of your circumstances.
  4. Contact the credit reference agencies if you spot a mistake on your credit report. If the information is incorrect, they should correct it. They have 28 days from when you raise a dispute about information to get back to you and tell you that they’ve removed the information, that they need longer to investigate it or that the lender in question believes the information is correct.
  5. Once you’ve contacted the credit reference agency about information you believe is incorrect, it will be marked as ‘disputed’ on your credit file while the enquiry is ongoing. This means that a credit provider can’t rely on it when they make a decision about whether or not to give you credit.
  6. If there is negative information about you on your credit report (such as late or missed payments, for example), you can add an explanation of why you fell behind with payments etc. This is called a ‘notice of correction’. This can be useful if, for example, you fell behind with payments because you lost your job but you are now in work again. If you’ve added a notice of correction, any credit provider you apply to has to read this information.
  7. Checking your own credit report will not harm your credit rating, no matter how often you do it.  
  8. Your credit file should only be linked to people with whom you have a ‘financial association’. This means a joint credit agreement, such as a joint loan or mortgage. If your credit report is linked with someone else’s – such as an ex-partner, for example – who you no longer have a joint loan or mortgage with, you can fill in a ‘notice of disassociation’ form. If the credit reference agency is satisfied there is no longer a financial connection between you, your credit files will no longer be linked.
  9. Credit providers use the electoral register to help verify that you are who you say you are, so make sure your name is on it. You can do this by using the register to vote service (Register to vote - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)).
  10. If you have a complaint about a credit reference agency or a credit provider, and you’re not happy with the response, you can complain, free of charge, to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The credit reference agency or credit provider has eight weeks to deal with your complaint before you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman.

For further information please contact:

Neil Cameron, PR Manager

Notes to editor

Sarah Pennells and case studies are available for broadcast interviews.

*Royal London commissioned a survey by Opinium between 6 and 12 December 2022, with a sample of 4,000 nationally representative UK adults.

About Royal London

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £147 billion, 8.7 million policies in force and 4,232 employees. Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2022. 

Learn more at royallondon.com