Noddle, a new website from credit reference agency Callcredit, is set to offer consumers completely free access to their credit reports online when it launches this autumn.
The membership-based service will offer individuals access to the data held on them at no cost whenever they want it, and it will be free to sign up for a log-in to the site.
Currently, consumers can get access to their credit reports online from the three major credit reference agencies at a cost of £2 for each. Callcredit’s decision to offer free credit reports online through Noddle will set it apart from rivals Equifax and Experian, who currently offer people free access to their credit reports through temporary trials – after which monthly fees become payable for the service.
While Noddle has not yet been launched nationwide, the first 10,000 people to sign up on its website will have early access to the service.
Financial products tailored to your credit profile
In order to fund Noddle, Callcredit has announced the website will partner with an unnamed price comparison site in order to deliver product suggestions to consumers based on their credit profiles.
In theory, this means the credit cards, loans and mortgages ‘recommended’ to you are the ones you’re most likely to be approved for in light of your credit history. Noddle will receive a commission when consumers take out financial products after clicking on its web links.
While users of Noddle are completely free to ignore the product suggestions it might make for them, Which? credit and debt expert Martyn Saville says: ‘It’s important for users of the service to be aware that Noddle’s recommendations may not cover the whole of the credit card, loan or mortgage market – which means better deals may be available to consumers who look elsewhere.
‘Furthermore it is possible that Noddle’s product suggestions will tempt people into unnecessary debt, encouraging them to take out credit cards and loans they don’t really need.’
What’s in your credit report?
Your credit report contains basic information about you such as your address, whether or not you’re on the electoral roll and whether you have ever been declared bankrupt, had a County Court Judgement (CCJ) made against you or entered an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA).
It also acts as a record of your borrowing behaviour, detailing how much you currently owe lenders, whether you are up to date with payments or have ever been in arrears, and whether you have recently applied for a credit card, loan or mortgage.
This information is used by companies to help them decide whether or not to lend to you – but not all lenders use the same system for assessing applicants, or even the same credit reference agency.
Check your credit report regularly
There will be different ‘versions’ of your credit report held by Equifax, Experian and Callcredit, so it’s important to check the details held by all three if you want to be sure there is no incorrect information on file. If you find errors, you have the right to correct them. You can find out about this by reading the Checking your credit report page of our Credit reports explained advice guide.
Looking at your credit reports before applying for credit is a good idea as it could prevent you making an unsuccessful attempt to get a loan or credit card. By correcting mistakes on your file before trying to borrow, you help reduce the likelihood you’ll be rejected.
Keeping an eye on your credit report will also mean you are able to quickly spot any fraudulent applications for credit that might be made using your personal details. ID fraud is a concern for many people, and the earlier it is spotted the less trouble it’s likely to cause for the victim.
Martyn Saville says: ‘Using Noddle could be a great way to get access to your credit file for free, and by launching this service Callcredit have laid down a challenge to Experian and Equifax. People really should be able to access the data that is held on them as easily as possible – and perhaps Callcredit’s move will inspire its competitors to improve what they offer consumers.’
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‘That said, it’s important to remember that Noddle will be funding itself through advertising – and people should be aware that the products they see listed on its site may not be the market leaders in their field.’
For a quick guide to how credit reports work, read our 60-second guide to credit reports online.