Credit history - the Irish Credit Bureau
The Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) is the biggest credit-referencing agency in Ireland. It is a private organisation, owned and financed by its members, which are the main financial institutions, including many credit unions. Local authorities are also members. Membership does not include utility companies or retail outlets.
The ICB maintains a database of information on the performance of credit agreements, such as mortgages; car loans; other personal loans; leasing agreements; hire purchase agreements and credit cards. It does not monitor overdraft agreements, with the exception of overdraft agreements that are the subject of legal proceedings. Lenders usually send information to the ICB on a monthly basis.
Each time you apply for credit from an ICB member, they can access your credit file to check your performance. Typically, your repayment history over a 24-month period is included in this credit report, including where you may have missed payments. The lender can ask the ICB for a credit score or credit rating, calculated on the basis of your credit history. If you have come to an agreement with your lender to postpone repayments, this will not affect your credit rating.
You can view a sample credit report (pdf) on the ICB's website.
Credit cards and credit history
The ICB records credit card repayment performance on a monthly basis but, due to the nature of credit cards, you also get an additional 30 days before any negative information about your performance is recorded.
Access to your records
Under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 (pdf), you are entitled to inspect your credit record. If the information stored about you is incorrect, you are entitled to have it amended and, in certain circumstances, you may also have the right to have it removed from your file. If you wish to have inaccurate information on your credit record amended, contact the lender concerned and ask them to forward the correct information to the ICB. The ICB cannot change the information unless asked to do so by the relevant lender.
If your request for access to your personal credit information is ignored or your request for a correction of inaccurate information is refused, you can complain to the Data Protection Commissioner, who has legal powers to ensure that your rights are protected.
In addition, if you suffer damage through the mishandling of personal information held on computer, you may be entitled to claim compensation through the courts.
Adding a personal declaration to your credit record
It is possible to add a personal statement to your credit record to clarify it. For example, if you have incurred significant costs due to relationship breakdown, bereavement, illness or another cause, you may add these details to your record.
The text of the note must be less than 200 words, must be relevant to matters contained in the record and must not be frivolous, vexatious or denigratory.
The ICB will attach this personal declaration to your file and it can be viewed when your data is accessed. However, lenders are not obliged to take your statement into account while checking your credit history when assessing you for a loan.
How long is my credit history recorded for?
The Irish Credit Bureau’s database will only hold information about you if you have had an active loan in the past 5 years and if your lender has provided information to the ICB. All records remain on the database for 5 years once the loan has been closed, whether you repaid the debt or not.
Can I get past bad credit details removed from my credit record?
Yes, but only if these details are incorrect. All lenders are obliged to provide an honest and truthful record of your credit agreements and transactions. This record will include details of bad debts or failures to repay.
Note that, when you initially apply for a loan of any kind, you will have to sign a consent form, which states that you are aware that a record of your repayments on this loan will be kept and will form part of your credit history.
How to apply
You can get a copy of your credit record by applying online to the Irish Credit Bureau and paying €6. For security reasons, it will be posted out to you. It will not be emailed.
Alternatively, you can download a Personal Enquiry Form (pdf) or request an application form from the ICB. Send the completed application form with payment of €6 to the address below.
Only 1 search can be conducted per application, and the ICB takes about 3 or 4 days to process each one.
The report that the ICB issues will display a unique reference number. You may then contact the ICB to discuss your report, quoting this unique number. You cannot discuss your credit record with the ICB by phone until you have received the report.
Where to apply
Irish Credit Bureau
Tel:(01) 260 0388
Fax:(01) 260 0390