Did Experian refuse my credit application?

Dear James,

I was advised by a mobile phone company that Experian said I failed a credit check.  Having obtained a copy of my credit report I do not see what the problem is. I contacted the mobile company to find out what specifically caused the check to fail. They say they do not know and that I have to ask Experian why.  Which is correct please?

Mike, London

Dear Mike,

I’m very happy to set the record straight for you. We do supply much of the data and in many cases the tools that help a wide range of lenders assess the credit applications they receive. This helps them decide which customers to accept, which to refuse and which ones they should look at more closely. The credit scoring systems we build, for instance, weigh up all of the data available to the lender about each customer and boil this down into a score that indicates the risk that they won’t honour a new credit agreement. But, importantly, these tools are always built to each lender’s criteria meaning that every lending decision is therefore theirs.

I suspect you’ve been advised by someone at the phone company who is not aware of this. It’s a common misconception. What I suggest you do is find out the address for the phone provider’s credit underwriting team. Then write to them enclosing a copy of your credit report and asking them to tell you the principle reason for refusing your application. I think you’ll then get a more accurate response, although it might still not be incredibly helpful I’m afraid. This is because your application may have simply been refused because your credit score didn’t reach the lender’s required pass mark. If that was the case then it probably won’t be possible to implicate any single issue or piece of information, which doesn’t give you much to go on. If this does turn out to be the case, all I can really suggest is that you try another provider.

Be careful not to make the situation worse by firing off multiple applications though. You can read our guide on credit report searches to understand why. Before you approach anyone else, just check to make sure there aren’t any easy wins to improve your credit history. You’ll find plenty of advice and tools on our website to help you with that. (October 2012, updated April 2018)


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