Credit monitoring services – Are you owed money?
(27/08/15) We’ve been handling a lot of issues relating to Experian’s credit monitoring product CreditExpert at Resolver.co.uk recently, so we thought it might be worth explaining the issue, and what sort of claim you might be entitled to
From January 2011, the charge for Experian’s CreditExpert credit monitoring service was raised from £7.99 per month to £14.99; it also then automatically included identity fraud insurance. After the 30-day free trial was over many consumers continued paying the £14.99, but it was not clearly explained to them that the insurance part of the service could be cancelled.
Value added service sold as a bundle
According to Experian’s terms and conditions, the insurance product only covered fees that you could have racked up when putting your house back in order if you had fallen victim to ID fraud; these could include legal fees, the cost of replacing documents and the cost of making phone calls. It didn't cover loss from the fraud itself.
Customers who signed up to Experian CreditExpert from January 2011 to July 2014 could only subscribe to the service if they also took out the ID fraud expenses insurance policy.
How much are you entitled to?
Despite the cover costing £6.40, Experian has offered some users £5 back per month, claiming this is the wholesale value of the product.
You can ask for 8% statutory (non-compounded) interest on the sum that you get back; this is the amount that a court would award if it had to adjudicate. For example, if you had the product from January 2011 until July 2014, you could be entitled to £215 compensation and a further £17.20 in interest.
So what is credit rating in general?
There are three credit reference agencies in the UK: CallCredit, Equifax and Experian. It is unlikely that all three hold the same information, so it is worth getting hold of your report from each agency. You are entitled to get a copy of your statutory report for £2, by writing or emailing the agency.
What is included in your credit reference file?
• Your name and date of birth
• Electoral roll information to verify your identity at each address and track your lending history
• A list of all accounts, including when they were opened. This will include the credit limits and balances on mortgages, credit cards and loans; even accounts closed and settled in the past six years will be listed
• Details of your current account overdraft will be included, but information on any savings or investments you have will not be seen
• Information about any previous application searches
• Whether you have ever missed any payments or been late repaying, and the amount of times this has happened
• Any financial links – this refers to joint credit, rather than the specific financial status of a partner or family member
• Court records showing whether you have any history of debt problems such as bankruptcies or CCJs, again going back up to six years
• It will also include information about whether your identity has ever been used for fraud.
Error by agency/lender on report
If there is a mistake in your credit report, and it is either an error by the credit agency or the lender, you should email the credit company via Resolver.co.uk. Under law it has 28 days to respond to your query. It will also add an electronic note to your case file to flag up the fact that you have challenged the veracity or accuracy of this data.
If it needs to contact the firm with whom you are disputing the credit entry, it must inform you beforehand.
Error by company on report
If the error is not the fault of the credit agency, the credit agency might ask you to contact the company with whom you have the dispute. The latter is able to send information to the credit agencies to correct your credit report.
If the information is incorrect, the company is required to update its systems internally and externally with the credit agencies within 28 days.
If the firm disputes the issue
If the company that you are disputing the entry in your credit report with disagrees, it is your responsibility to argue the issue. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you can place a 200-word note on your case file.
As most approvals processes are automatic, if you have a ‘notice of correction’ on your case file any credit decision must be undertaken manually rather than automatically.
Other people in your property
Information about other people in your property should not always be included in your report, even if they have the same surname, unless a financial connection has been created. This means that other people’s credit history should not affect your own.
A financial connection means that:
• You have made an application for credit in joint names;
• A bank account or other credit product has been opened in joint names;
• Or you tell the credit reference agency that you are financially linked to someone else.
If your credit reports shows you as financially connected to someone, but this is no longer the case, you can write to the agencies and ask to be disassociated from the person – you should explain your reasons.
You only need to contact one agency, because they will share this information with the others. If the agency refuses to accept the disassociation, you can go to the Information Commissioner for assistance.
Will your personal details be sold on?
When you sign up to any service, ensure that you opt out of your details being shared with selected third parties. If not, your information can be passed on to other companies.
How long does information stay on my credit rating?
Information relating to accounts, including late or missed payments, should be removed after six years from the point the account is closed
Top tips for a good credit rating
Be sure to get on to the electoral roll. Second, make every payment due on any credit card promptly and in full. Finally, try to space out credit applications: for example, wait a few months between applying for mobile phone contracts, car insurance or credit cards.
Unresolved credit agency complaints
If your issue is not addressed, you have the right to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service for any complaint relating to events after April 2007.
Resolver.co.uk will remind you when you can escalate your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Any case submitted to a credit reference agency by Resolver is recognised by the Financial Ombudsman Service, even if the company does not respond.
When can you take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service?
Resolver will remind you when to escalate your case file. If you follow the correct process, you can escalate your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service after eight weeks.