Copyright 1995 Guardian Newspapers Limited December 10, 1995, Sunday SECTION: THE OBSERVER BUSINESS PAGE; Pg. 10 LENGTH: 667 words
HEADLINE: TIP OF THE WEEK
BYLINE: Andrew Bibby HIGHLIGHT:
Get the credit you are due
IT IS easy and cheap to find out what information credit reference agencieshold on you, although many people seem not to understand the system.
Anthony Capstick of Instant Search, a business which supplies immediatecompany and consumer credit information by fax delivery, says he is regularlycontacted by individuals wanting details of their own files. 'It happens every day, and it's a pain because we're not able to help them.Under the terms of our agreement with the credit reference agency we use, we canonly give information to businesses,' he says.
Under the Consumer Credit Act, individuals can obtain details of theircredit files for a payment of pounds 1. Recent mergers within the industry meanthere are now only two major credit reference agencies, CCN and Equifax. Both have telephone helplines but require written requests, with which apounds 1 cheque or postal order must be enclosed (see below for addresses).
The agencies also ask individuals to give details of any previous addresseswhere they have lived in the previous six years. The agencies must send you a copy of your file within seven working days. If you want to challenge information that you think is incorrect, you mustwrite again; this time the agency has 28 days in which to respond.
There arefurther steps to follow if the agency declines to amend its records as you wish. While the Consumer Credit Act provides a welcome element of publicaccountability for credit reference agency files, Anthony Capstick maintainsthat the delays involved can be frustrating, particularly for people who havebeen refused credit and are keen to find out why as quickly as possible.
While his own company's charge of pounds 30 plus VAT per credit search issubstantially higher than the pounds 1 fee laid down by the Act, he argues thatindividuals, as well as companies, should be given the right to pay for theadvantage of immediate information.
CCN: Consumer Help Service, CCN, PO Box 40, Nottingham, NG7 2SS. Tel:0115-986 8172. Equifax: Equifax Europe, Dept 1E, PO Box 3001, Glasgow G81 2DT. Tel:0990-783783