Adverse Credit – We've All Heard Of It, But What Does It Mean?
If you're one of those lucky people who have never missed a single credit card or loan repayment, then you don't need to worry about the term ‘adverse credit'. In this article, we are discussing the ins and outs of the term ‘adverse credit', something that describes people who have defaulted on credit repayments to a significant extent. The terms ‘sub-prime and ‘poor credit' are also used to describe the same situation. What we are here to ascertain is: what do you have to do to be called an adverse credit customer, and where does the lender get their information about you?
To start off, we will discuss the credit reference agencies, companies such as Experian and Equifax who collect and store information about all your financial dealings, and sell this information to lenders. Other parties that can see your credit history are insurance companies, banks, landlords, government agencies and employers, they are allowed, by law, to see your past financial details.
They know a lot about you, you may be surprised at just how much. Apart from the obvious (your name, date of birth, social security details), they also have your addresses (past and present), records of all the jobs you have had and with who, your entry on the voter's roll, your mortgage, credit card, loan and hire purchase details, records of any unpaid County Court judgements, and most surprisingly, details on all the loan and credit card applications you have ever made.
So where do the credit agencies get their information from? They get it from the Public Records offices and the financial institutions themselves – banks, credit card companies etc. Once you've got a bank account, you're on the computer records and the credit agencies start collecting information about you.
Experian, Equifax and the other agencies also offer another service to the lenders, they have the facility to give you a credit score, using the lender's own criteria to score your eligibility for credit. If you don't score high enough, you may not get the credit you have requested, which is why your credit score is so important. The credit score works by matching your financial details against different criteria. You could score well for having met all your credit card repayments for example, but score badly because you have moved address or employer a number of times. In any case, the higher score, the more likely you will get the credit you asked for.
The eventual credit score is providing an estimate on your eligibility to receive the credit, making the general assumption that your future repayment habits will be the same as your past. As extra insurance, they also compare your information with other applicants with similar characteristics as you, to see how they fared. In the end, the decision whether you can be offered credit is automated, and based on statistical analysis. If your score is close to the pass level, then the lender may choose to offer you a lower level of credit, or a higher interest rate.
All the lenders have different ideas about what is and isn't acceptable, and some will refuse your application without giving you a reason why. It's their decision, and it is not up to the credit reference agencies, they merely collate the information in the first place. It is the lender who gives you the label of ‘adverse credit' customer.
We have collated here a list (in no particular order) of the situations that will, either alone or with others, make it difficult for you get to credit with a lender: if you're behind on payments for a loan, credit card or mortgage, if you have made a few late payments on the above, outstanding and unpaid County Court or High Court Judgements, if you are not on the electoral roll at the address you gave on your application form, and if you have made more than a usual number of loans and credit card applications. Two situations would normally result in automatic refusal: having had your home repossessed, and recent bankruptcy.
If you are aware of any of the aforementioned problems in your recent credit history, then don't be surprised if your application for credit is turned down, especially by the big, mainstream lenders. Some of the mainstream lenders are a bit more forgiving about mortgages, especially if you already have a mortgage and are meeting your repayments.
This article should contain most of the information you need to know about ‘adverse credit', and help you understand what the lenders consider to be a bad risk, and why. If the worst happens, and you find yourself unable to get credit because of an adverse credit history, then you will probably have to seek credit from a sub prime lender. If you fit their criteria, they will offer you credit, but it will be more expensive.
The most important thing to remember is: always keep up do your loan, credit card and mortgage repayments, don't pay late or even more importantly, don't build up arrears. The financial consequences of getting behind could be both extensive, and expensive.