Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Behind the Scenes By Sheila Challiner

Sheila Challiner

There are three well-know credit reference agencies that everyone seems to know about. Any check up on you financial situation is likely to be carried out through Experian, Equifax of CallCredit. If you want to find out just what any lender will find out about you should you ask for credit, you can contact any one of these agencies and find out without any delay. As little as 2 pounds is all it’ll cost and your file will be revealed.

Not many people will have heard of “National Hunter” though. It may sound like the “dead cert” for the Grand National, but in fact it’s a fourth credit agency. Their input is similar to the others, and their approval is necessary if you’re going to succeed with that application, but it’s going to cost you five times as much to find out just what data they hold on you. Under the Data Protection Act, this is the maximum amount they’re allowed to charge, the full 10 pounds.

This little-known firm was established in 1993 by a group of banks and is currently co-owned by a mixture of around sixty building societies, banks and lenders. Officially based in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, in actual fact National Hunter is operated by Experian, for the owners, and is based in Nottingham.

The purpose of this agency is to prevent fraud and is a major weapon in the war against financial crime. They will investigate each loan request and warn the lender if there is anything suspicious about the application. If this results in an application being marked as suspicious, then the lender’s computer is likely to turn down an application for credit, without actually informing the applicant of the actual reason.

Whilst many of the rejections are undoubtedly in order, what is worrying is that it’s not known what the extent of the numbers of files that National Hunter holds on individuals is, or how many rejections are as a result of an error. What if there’s been an honest error with the application or some confusing facts given, that can’t be checked? Can these be automatically discounted? There’s computer error to worry about too.

Circumstances which could cause applications to appear as risky could include such things as changes of employer in a short time, the same mobile number being used by more than one applicant, mistakes or miss-spellings in names, or possibly mistakes in identification documents. A change in stated salary can look suspicious but be easily explained and income which is difficult to check on would flag up a warning

Any one of these eventualities could be quite innocently made and could be easily corrected.

National Hunter would inform the lender of a risky application – marking it as “suspect”. If the lender’s computer then refuses the application without giving a reason or saying which data base was used for checking, then many individuals wouldn’t even have heard of National Hunter, let alone followed up their credit details with them.

If you’re unexpectedly refused credit, do follow it up with the lender. Mistakes can happen and you have every right to know the reason for the refusal and to be given the chance to put it right.

A follow up to this article is called “Checking Out Your Credit”.


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