Why is credit report information held for six years?

Dear James,

Why is information held on your credit report for six years? 

Vannette, London

Dear Vannette,

There’s actually no hard and fast rule on this. Credit reports include details taken form the register of court judgments and that stretches back six years so may have had a degree of influence on settled or defaulted credit accounts also being kept for the same period.  Keeping financial records for six years also aligns with the Limitation Act, which determines how long a creditor can take certain action against you to recover a debt you owe. We must also hold data in line with the Data Protection Act. One of the Act’s eight principles states that data should not be held for longer than necessary. The primary purpose of us holding credit report data is to support credit scores and credit decisions, so if we have to able to demonstrate that however long we hold data for is actually relevant to credit scores. And from analysis we’ve done in the past I believe that data up to six years old is relevant to someone’s creditworthiness, but beyond six years the relevance diminishes significantly. There are one or two exceptions though, including bankruptcy orders that have been subjected to a ‘restrictions order’ or a ‘restrictions undertaking’ where bankruptcy discharge can be extended up to fifteen years. We keep these on people’s reports until the extended discharge date is reached. These are fairly rare though so in most cases bankruptcies, certainly in England and Wales, are discharged after one year and then held for a further five more. (July 2013, updated May 2017)


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