Part 1: Credit Searches
What is a credit search?
A credit search is an online check provided by a Credit Reference Agency.
Define: Credit Reference Agency, or CRA
This is a company that holds loads of data on you, from a plethora of sources—like EE, Vodafone and Sky—and will let other companies look up your financial footprint. For example, if you had an unpaid bill with Virgin Media.
Define: Credit file
Think of this like a folder that has all of your 'credit information' in it. Companies like us can pay a fee to check that there's no 'bad' data in your credit file.
Credit Search or Credit Check?
We do a Credit Search. They're soft searches that don't leave a negative impact on your credit history.
Define: Credit Search
A soft search only provides access to some data, and you have to request specific bits. For example: "Does Paul Jones live at 33 London Road" may return Yes or No.
Define: Credit Check
This is a hard search, and will pull up information about direct debits, loans and is typically used by lenders of credit. If you're about to take out a loan, a bank will do a credit check to ensure you don't owe every other bank money. A credit search would not give them that information.
We currently use Transunion—formerly CallCredit—for our credit checks.
How CRA's get their data
Credit reference agencies get their data from hundreds of companies. For example, when you took out your EE contract, EE will let the CRAs know when you are—or aren't—paying your bill on time.
They also use publicly available information, such as the electoral roll.
Zero impact on your credit file
Being referenced will not leave a negative mark on your credit file, even if you fail. It does leave a 'credit search' mark, which has no negative impact at all.
It's the same mark you get when you sign up to CompareTheMarket or GoCompare — very minimal.
Verifying identity and address
Whenever an event enters your credit file, for example: taking out a new Sky contract, a new piece of information will be sent to these CRAs.
Example: James Knott, 12 Langley Falls, Sky.
The CRAs will use hundreds of data sources to piece together a map of where you've lived, which they call your 'linked addresses'. Therefore, as you move around geographically, all of your previous credit history remains linked.
So when we're doing a search and ask: Does James Knott live at 12 Langley Falls, we should receive confirmation because a person of that name took out a Sky contract there 6 months ago. It will also pull back previous linked addresses for a number of years.
UK address required
A UK address is not required to be referenced, however we may still request confirmation of previous rental payments, if possible, and proof of income.
This is a broad term for 'bad' financial things we can see after completing a soft credit search. It includes CCJs, bankruptcies and insolvencies.
Define: CCJ (County Court Judgements)
You can get these if you don't pay a bill for a long time. Sometimes people have these and never realise, because they owed money for a utility bill, moved out, and forgot to ever tell anyone where they were going.
I've failed a reference elsewhere, will I fail Movem?
Not necessarily—it depends why. If you failed a reference because you have outstanding CCJs, it's very likely that we'd also fail given the same information.
However, if you failed because they couldn't verify your income, it's possible we can do that better through Open Banking.
Removing CCJs from credit files
In short, it's not easy to remove a CCJ — often near impossible. There are 3 ways a CCJ leaves your file:
- You pay the outstanding amount within a set time (normally 30 days).
- You wait 6 years (ouch). 😨
- You dispute the CCJ and request it to be removed.
Credit search on appliants in other countries
Unfortunately, because data is private within each country, we're unable to run credit searches on applicants in other countries.
For example, if Mr X lived in the US for 10 years, we'd be unable to look at those databases for credit information. All we can check is their credit history from within the UK.