Consumers can now access free credit reports showing publicly held information on their borrowings, repayments history and financial relationships with other people without getting tied in to ongoing “insurance” or “advisory” services which come at a fee.

Currently Experian and Equifax – the two main credit reference agencies – offer “free” reports but these come with a catch. Unless the customer opts out, the one-off “free” report becomes a regular report and alert service costing up to £14.99 a month.

These services offer “insurance” against identity theft and regular updates whenever anyone accesses your credit file. In theory this could enable you to spot dodgy requests for a credit report which you may know nothing about but in fact for most people this sort of regular update service isn’t really needed. Insurance against identity theft is all well and good but like all insurance policies they won’t pay out if you have been “negligent” and not guarded your personal information properly. But if you take care of your personal information why would you need insurance? It’s rather like a company charging you a premium against crashing you car then turning down your claim because you had been negligent and crashed you car.

OK – I’m being a bit (a little) unfair but few of us need the ongoing “protection” offered by Experian or Equifax and that has been recognised by another credit reference agency called CallCredit and you can access your credit report for a one-time £2 fee here.

Traditionally credit reference agencies make most of their money from banks and other lenders who pay them to check customers’ records, commitments and repayment history but recently – perhaps because banks are not even considering loan applications – they are moving to try and get consumers to subscribe for regular services even when these may not be appropriate to their needs.



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