Correcting Search Footprints

Every time you apply for credit or other financial services, a search 'footprint' is left on your credit report by the lender. These searches stay on your file for up to 2 years, depending upon which credit reference agency was used to carry out the search; Equifax and Callcredit hold search entries for up to 2 years, whilst Experian holds search entries for up to a year. Having many searches on your credit record may indicate to lenders that you're financially over-committed, or may be a victim of (or even committing) fraud.

Searches may only be removed from your credit record if the credit reference agency (CRA) is requested to do so by the lender or organisation that made the search. If you think any search details are incorrect, you should therefore contact the lender concerned. If necessary, the lender will inform the CRA of any amendments, and the agency will update your credit record. For example, if a lender has searched your report more than once as a result of a single credit application, you may ask them to delete the duplicate searches.

A footprint will be shown on your credit report if a lender has made a search, but only the lender concerned will know if your application was accepted or refused; this will not show up on your credit report.

Managing Your Search Footprints

If you have been turned down for a loan or credit card, do not rush to apply for others, as this may leave further search footprints on your credit report, which may set alarm bells ringing for other lenders. An abnormally high number of searches might suggest that you have been a victim of fraud or that you have applied for an excessive amount of credit. Instead, ask the lender that refused your application to explain why it did so. It may simply be because you did not meet the criteria for the type of customer they were looking for, or it may be that there was something on your credit report that could deter other lenders, such as missed payments. In this case, you should work at repairing the damage before applying for more credit.

Shopping around for credit shouldn't show up as a search on your credit record, as long as you make it clear to lenders that you are only seeking a quotation. This means that the lender will only record a 'quotation search', rather than a credit application search; other lenders will know that this quotation search does not represent an actual credit application, so it won't damage your creditworthiness.