Unlocking your credit report

Credit reports are an important source of information when applying for financial products like a loan or mortgage, but we found it can be difficult for people to understand their statutory report.

We asked 81 people to order their £2 statutory reports from the three main credit reference agencies (CRAs) Experian, Equifax and Callcredit.

We found:

  • Around a third of our researchers (22) found a problem or entry they disputed on their credit report.
  • Less than half said that seeing their statutory reports had given them a better understanding of their credit worthiness: Callcredit (46%), Equifax (40%), Experian (42%).
  • 80% said they were expecting to see a numerical ‘score’, but these are only available through subscription services and no CRA includes this in its statutory report.
  • Around a third thought there was too much jargon and confusing terminology used: Callcredit (37%), Equifax (35%), Experian (30%).
  • The overwhelming majority (95%) said they’d find it helpful if all three CRAs used the same format for their statutory reports.
  • Overall people preferred the layout of Experian (62%) to Callcredit (56%) or Equifax (47%).

Which? money expert, Gareth Shaw, said:

“With millions reliant on credit to pay for essentials, and the new mortgage lending rules tightening financial checks, it’s more important than ever that people can view their credit report and ensure the information held about them is accurate. We want to see the three credit reference agencies do more to help people understand their report.”

Notes to editors:

1. Methodology: We asked 81 people to order their £2 statutory reports from all three CRAs – Callcredit, Equifax and Experian – with around half asked to order a paper copy and the rest an online version. We tracked their experiences of ordering their reports, as well as their thoughts on the way the information in each report was presented. We followed those who’d identified incorrect or missing information through the process of resolving this with a CRA.

​We also found​:

·    Anyone who wants to view their Experian report online currently has to wait for a passcode to be sent in the post first.

·    Callcredit took 41 days to tell one researcher it would remove an incorrect linked address – taking 18 days to request the necessary information, and 23 days following that to say what action it would be taking.

·    Equifax told two people their issues couldn’t be resolved because they’d ordered their reports more than 30 days before, despite subsequently telling us people have a right to query data on their report regardless of when it was obtained.

​2. ​If you find a mistake on your credit report, you can contact the lender or CRA to correct it and, by law, CRAs must tell you within 28 days if it has removed the entry, amended it or taken no action.​

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