Can you accidentally damage your credit file?

Elizabeth Barry 22 July 2016

accidentally-damage-credit-file

Find out what actions can hurt your credit score without you even realising it.

While it's obvious that some activities will hurt your credit score – defaulting on a personal loan or declaring bankruptcy – other problems are not so obvious. You might check your credit score and find yourself in the "very good" credit score range, only to drop to a lower range for seemingly no reason whatsoever. However, there are a number of issues that can affect your credit score and your credit file that you may not be aware of.

  • Moving house

moving house

When you move house several things happen that can affect the health of your credit file. You may not forward all of your mail which could result in a default turning into a serious credit infringement. This is where a lender is unable to reach you for a period of six months or more following a defaulted payment. You may not even be aware of the default in the first place because credit providers can contact you by mail to let you know about it. Unless you pay the outstanding amount in full the infringement remains on your file for seven years. If you do move house, make sure all of your creditors and financial institutions have your new address and can contact you. You can also consider leaving a forwarding address with the people moving into your house or set up credit alerts to keep an eye on your file.

  • Enquiring about credit

Lannister pays debts

Every time you enquire about a loan, credit card or any type of credit accounts they will be listed on your credit file. If you make too many enquiries in a short space of time this can have a very negative impact on your credit file and subsequently, your credit score. Before you make enquiries with a lender find out whether they will be checking your credit file as part of the process. This is where the enquiry is listed. It's important to compare your options, but you can do so without making formal applications for credit. Only apply if you're looking to actually take on the credit account.

  • Not managing your automated payments

managing repayments

Automated payments from your debit or credit card can be convenient and help you manage your bills and credit accounts more easily. However, if your cards expire or get stolen and need replacing, it's important to remember to recreate the automated payments to avoid late or missed payments. Any payments that are late or missed can be noted on your credit file and affect your credit reputation.

  • Paying a utility bill late

homer stealing pay bills

People often misunderstand the effect utility accounts can have on their credit files. If you have a utility account that is more than 60 days overdue and you owe more than $150, it can be listed on your account as a default. The provider will need to send you two separate notices before it can legally list the default.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    September 6, 2017

    I only have a “very good” credit rating. Just as well I have not needed credit for decades, and I owe nobody anything. I am 74 and all my life I have paid my bills well. Plus in the past 5 years I have bought my present car new for cash and bought my present house for cash. This system stinks. I should have the highest possible rating.

    • Staff
      RenchSeptember 7, 2017Staff

      Hi Allan,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.
      I understand your frustrations on getting an excellent rating on your credit report as you have mentioned that you have settled all your commitments in a timely manner. However, your credit score is displayed as a number and lenders apply it to their own lending criteria. For more information on how the score is being calculated, please refer to this page.

      I hope this helps.

      Best regards,
      Rench

  2. Default Gravatar
    GraceOctober 24, 2016

    I made the mistake of applying for a few different credit cards at the same time a few years ago, and since then I have tried again here and there (but never more than one at a time and they were spread out in time).

    I my credit rating is still low and I don’t know why. So my questions are:

    1. How long does it take for your score to rise after unsuccessful applications?

    2. Is there anything that can be done to bring up my score (besides the obvious) considering I have never actually had any credit payment defaults, or any credit at all really!

    • Staff
      ElizabethOctober 25, 2016Staff

      Hi Lace,

      Credit enquiries remain on your file for five years and will continue to affect your credit score, but unfortunately there’s no specific amount of time that they stop bringing your score down. However, you may want to order a copy of your credit file (free every 12 months) to check that there is no incorrect information on your report that is affecting your score.

      You can also take a look at this guide to improving your credit score.

      Hope this information helps,

      Elizabeth

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