Mense, if you ever want to apply for a home loan, student loan, vehicle finance, personal loan, credit card, store account – or any type of credit – then your credit score, and what is reflected on your credit report, really counts!
It isn’t just a number on a screen or piece of paper.
Most of us have never physically seen our credit report, but we give consent to creditors, prospective employers, landlords and others to draw our reports.
With so much identity theft, fraud and cybercrime going on, and many being blindsided by people using their details to take out loans and running up debt in their name, we simply must know what is on their credit reports.
Therefore, I am extremely grateful that through Kudough Credit Solutions - this column is able to offer EVERYONE access to a FREE credit report from one of four of the major credit bureaus in South Africa.
All you have to do is click on the link below.
Please note, getting your free credit report via this link does not negatively affect your credit score or credit standing in any way, as it isn’t a loan enquiry being done by a creditor.
This is your personal enquiry.
According to Chris van Rensburg, CEO of Kudough, even if you have missed just one payment, this will reflect as arrears and will have a pretty big impact on your credit score.
“Pay special attention to ensure the full list of your long term and short term debt is 100% correct, that the amounts are valid, and in the region of what you know it to be,” he says.
Go through your report carefully and make sure that:
– The accounts listed are yours and are up to date.
– That you have a good mix of debt types (e.g. try not to have too many credit cards).
– You have good debt utilisation, e.g. if you are granted a R10 000 credit facility, do not use more than R6 000. By doing this, you will be able to improve your credit score and you will likely be offered more credit in the future if it is needed.
Your credit report may seem like just another document, but your credit score can greatly impact your life. It can:
– Affect the chances of the credit you are applying for being approved.
– Result in you getting lower interest rates if you have a good score.
– Affect future job applications. Certain employers may, with your consent, insist on seeing your credit report before considering you for a particular type of position in their company.
– Impact your insurance rates. Essentially, the lower your credit score, the higher the chance you’ll end up paying higher insurance rates.
– Make it difficult for you to rent a property if you have an unhealthy credit history or low credit score. Potential landlords may review and consider your credit history while conducting their screening processes.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is an automatic algorithm generated number that uses your data to provide a rating on your profile that creditors (including banks) use when you apply for credit.
Different bureaus have different ranges but overall these range from 486 to 900 – going from very poor to excellent.
The higher the number, the better your standing.
Defaults, judgements and enquiries
There are two types of defaults and they affect your credit report differently.
– Enforcement default: This is when enforcement action has been taken against you, e.g. bad debt written off or “handed over” or repossession of goods has taken place.
This type of default may be recorded on your credit report for two years.
– Subjective default: This is based on your behaviour, e.g. skipping payments, slow payments, not being contactable. This type of default may be recorded on your credit report for one year.
A judgement is a court order. It can stay on your record for five years or until it is rescinded by the court, abandoned by the credit provider or until the principal debt of the judgement is paid (before the five years).
Everytime you apply for credit, and a credit provider checks your profile to assess your risk, an enquiry is recorded. Try to keep this to a minimum, as applying and enquiring for extra credit too often, may damage your credit score.
What to do when you see a problem on your credit profile.
First – resist the urge to panic and have a nervous breakdown (Been there, done that! Issie lekka nie!).
You must remember that all consumers have the right to challenge the accuracy of the information held at each of the credit bureaus and subsequently reflected on your credit report.
If, for instance you see an old debt (prescribed debt) or details of debt you never made or don’t know of, or amounts that just seem wrong on your credit report, the first thing to do would be to contact the affected credit bureau (TransUnion/Experian/XDS/VCCB) to log a dispute.
Here are their details:
Transunion: 0861 886 466 / [email protected]
Experian: 0861 105 665 / [email protected]
XDS: 011 645 9100 / [email protected]
All of these bureaus will inform you of what documents they need, and their investigations usually take around 20 business days.
Good, bad or ugly – we must know what is reflected on our credit report.
Click on that link, you have nothing to lose!