Keeping your credit history file squeaky clean is good practice for anyone who might need to borrow money in the future.
Whether you want a new mortgage, personal loan or a new mobile phone contract, it’s important to have a glowing credit report.
Here are five things to avoid that can harm your credit report:
1. Multiple applications
Every time you apply for credit, it shows on your credit report.
While it won’t spell out if you were rejected, multiple applications for credit cards, for example, could suggest your applications are unsuccessful and could look bad.
Even just two applications in a six-month period could dent your credit score, making it even harder to qualify for a loan.
Find out why a new employer might check your credit report
2. Old accounts
You may wish to consider closing any credit card or store card accounts you no longer use because a new lender may wonder why you want another line of credit if you already have plenty open to you at the moment.
Make sure all old accounts are debt-free. An old unpaid catalogue account or mobile phone bill could cost you dear.
Want to improve your credit report? Read our tips
3. Bad organisation
If you don’t manage your accounts properly and miss payment dates for utilities or any other kind of debt repayment, it will be visible to other creditors and could impact future credit applications.
Missed or late payments could indicate that an individual is financially stretched or lacks responsibility in repaying debts, which means they are unlikely to view you as a decent candidate for further borrowing.
4. Failing to check your report
Millions of us have never seen our credit report. But this in itself is a mistake because it’s worth making sure that all the information held about you is correct.
Where information is wrong, you will need to contact the company that put the information on your report, explain the problem and ask for it to be corrected.
In circumstances where you have missed a payment through a genuine problem, you can contact the credit reference agency and ask them to attach a 'notice of correction' on your report. This will explain when payments were missed due to special circumstances, such as losing your job or family bereavement.
Find out how to check your credit report
5. Failing to separate finances
Joint finance with a partner will create a formal link between your credit reports, whether it’s a mortgage or finance on a new sofa. This means that if one of you applies for credit, the lender will be able to search the other’s credit report.
If you split up with or divorce a partner, make sure you write to tell the agencies to avoid their potentially bad debts affecting you in the future.
You will have to prove that you are no longer financially connected by providing evidence that you have been living apart for more than six months.
If you were married, you must be divorced before you can remove the formal link. Any joint accounts must be settled and closed or they will still have an impact on your credit report.
Breaking down the cost of heartache: divorce and the over 60s
For a monthly fee, credit reference agencies like Experian and Equifax will allow you unlimited access to your credit report, and will monitor it so you're alerted when there are changes to your report.