Credit rating - When you apply for a loan, credit mortgage or hire purchase, the supplier conducts a credit check to make sure you can pay.
Two main companies carry out credit checks - Experian and Equifax (see separate entries). Between them they have details on 44 million people in the UK. Under the Data Protection Act, you have the right to see any information held about you and you can improve your rating by correcting inaccurate data.
If you are declined credit, the company does not have to explain why, but it is obliged to tell you which credit agency it used and that agency must send you a copy of any information it holds about you. Contact Experian on 0115 976 8747 and Equifax on 0845 603 3000.
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