Your credit history
When you fill out a loan application form, your lender usually checks your credit history or credit score. This will help your lender decide whether to give you a loan or not.
Most lenders use a credit reference agency, the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) to check your credit history and see your track record in repaying loans. The ICB builds your credit history using information it gets from your lenders about your loans such as your mortgage, credit cards and other loan agreements. Data on individual loan accounts and judgments on mortgages is also kept by Experian Ireland.
Your Credit Bureau score is calculated based on your credit history, and may consider, for example, the number of late repayments you have made, the number of accounts you hold and the numbers of applications for credit you have made in the last 12 months. As this information changes over time, your score will go up or down.
When you apply for credit, you give the lender permission to check your information with from the Irish Credit Bureau and they can ask for this score as part of your report. A high (positive) score does not guarantee that you will be given a loan. Your lender may look at the score along with other details, and then decide whether or not to approve your loan.
When you sign up for a mortgage, loan, car finance (hire purchase agreement), credit card or overdraft, you give permission to your lender to send information to a credit reference agency, such as the ICB, about your repayments. This information forms your credit history.
Your credit history shows:
- Your name, date of birth and address
- Names of lenders and account numbers of any loans you currently have or that have been closed within the the last five years
- A history of all repayments made or missed for each month on each loan, including any loans or credit cards you did not pay off completely
- Your Credit Bureau Score
- A record of any legal action your lender took against you.
If you missed repayments, didn't clear a loan or credit card, or settled a loan for less than you owed, it will show up on your credit history for five years after the loan is closed. This could result in you being refused another loan.
Your credit record gives a full picture of your credit history, good and/or bad. A bad credit rating may mean that you will be refused a loan, even if you have the income to repay it.
Most lenders use the ICB as their credit reference agency. You can request a report of your credit history by contacting the ICB and paying a small fee. The ICB will send a copy of your report in the post.
You cannot change a bad credit record if all the information is correct
A credit report provides an accurate and honest record of your loan repayment history. Unless the details are wrong, your information cannot be changed. If there is a mistake on your record, the ICB must receive a formal request from your lender before they will change them but you are entitled to have the mistake corrected.
For example, you could complete a direct debit form incorrectly and miss a repayment, or your lender could agree to let you postpone repayments, but forget to note this on the report it sends to the credit bureau.
If you find a mistake in your record, ask your lender to write to the credit bureau to correct your record and ask for a copy of their letter. If this does not solve the problem, you can contact the Data Protection Commissioner for further advice, or complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman.