Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs)

A Credit Reference Agency (CRA) is an independent organisation that provides lenders with information about potential borrowers (with the borrower's consent), which the lender can then use to make a decision as to whether or not to offer credit.

When you apply for credit, you supply the lender with information about yourself and your finances. The lender will also apply to one or more credit reference agencies for more detailed information (such as county court judgements and missed credit payments), and at the same time, they will supply the CRA with the information you have provided. The credit reference agencies act as an independent intermediary between all lenders, and work to ensure that the information about each individual is kept up to date and accurate.

Credit reference agencies simply provide factual information (known as a credit report); they do not make any lending decisions, nor do they have a 'blacklist' of people who should not be offered credit.

UK Credit Reference Agencies

In the UK, there are 3 credit reference agencies that hold information about consumers(and 5 that hold information about businesses; the three main consumer credit reference agencies in the UK are: Callcredit, Equifax and Experian.

Callcredit Plc
Consumer Services Team
PO Box 491
Tel: 0870 060 1414

Equifax Plc
Credit File Advice Centre
PO Box 1140

Experian Ltd
Customer Support Centre
PO Box 8000
NG80 7WF
Tel: 0844 481 8000

A lender can only pass on credit information with your consent, which is typically given when you sign your credit agreement. Failure to obtain your consent is a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.