Your credit history

Introduction

Your credit history is information about any loans you have. It covers loans such as mortgages, credit cards, overdrafts, hire purchase agreements and personal contract plans.

Your credit history includes details such as the amount of the loan, the outstanding amount and any missed payments. This information is listed in a credit report.

Credit reports are available for lenders (such as banks and credit unions) to consult when they are considering applications for loans. The aim of the system is to help lenders to assess the ability of borrowers to repay loans.

You can also request your own credit report – see ‘Your credit report’ below.

In Ireland, there are 2 databases that collect information on loans. These are:

  • Central Credit Register
    • Banks, credit unions and other lenders are required by law to send information on loans to the Central Credit Register, which is operated by the Central Bank of Ireland. They are also required by law to consult the Register before approving a loan.
  • Irish Credit Bureau’s (ICB) database
    • Lenders may choose to send information about borrowers to databases operated by a credit reference agency, such as the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB).

The Central Credit Register and the ICB do not decide whether or not you get a loan. Lenders use the credit report to assess your loan application before making a decision. They may also take into consideration your income and outgoings, such as rent and utilities. Different lenders have different criteria for approving loans.

Why your credit history is so important

When you apply for a loan or other type of credit, such as a credit card, overdraft, HP or personal contract plan (PCP), the lender has to decide whether or not to lend to you.

The information on your credit report can be used to decide:

  • Whether to lend to you
  • How much to allow you to borrow
  • How much interest to charge you

Under EU law, lenders must assess your creditworthiness before agreeing to give you a loan. Creditworthiness means your ability to repay the loan. This assessment must be based on the information you provide as part of your loan application, and also on the information in your credit report.

Information in your credit report may mean that lenders could decide not to lend to you, even if you have the income to repay the loan. They could refuse your loan if they believe they might be taking a high risk in lending to you.

Check your own credit report

If you are applying for an overdraft, mortgage, credit card or other type of loan, it is a good idea to check your credit report before you apply. It can help you spot any missed payments you did not realise were missed, or mistakes in your credit report.

Importantly, you can get incorrect information corrected. You also have the right to add a statement to your credit report to explain any special circumstance – see ‘Rules’ below.

What happens if you are refused a loan?

If you are refused a loan because of information in your credit report, the lender must immediately tell you this and give you details of the database used.

This applies to personal consumer credit agreements for amounts between €200 and €75,000. It does not apply to mortgages.

Credit history databases

The Central Credit Register and the ICB database hold similar information on your credit history, but there are some differences between them.

For more details on the types of loans included in each one, see ‘Information held on the databases’ in the table below.

Central Credit Register

  • The Central Credit Register is operated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
  • By law, lenders must submit information about your loans to the Central Credit Register. Your consent is not required.
  • Since 2018, it is compulsory for lenders to check your credit report in the Central Credit Register when they are considering a loan application of €2,000 or more.
  • Lenders can access your credit report if you have applied for a loan under €2,000 or requested a re-structure of an existing loan. They can also access it if there are arrears on an existing loan or a breach of a limit on a credit card or overdraft.
  • Information is kept for 5 years after the loan has been repaid.

Why was the Central Credit Register set up?

The Central Credit Register was set up to promote greater financial stability by:

  • Providing borrowers with an individual credit report detailing their loans
  • Providing lenders with comprehensive information to assess loan applications
  • Providing the Central Bank with better insights into national trends around lending

Read more on centralcreditregister.ie

ICB database

  • The ICB is a private organisation, owned and financed by its members (which include banks, credit unions and local authorities).
  • Each time you apply for a loan from an ICB member, they can access your credit report.
  • You are asked to consent to your loan information being added to the ICB database (this is usually in your loan agreement).
  • The lender can ask the ICB for a credit score or credit rating, which is calculated on the basis of your credit history. Your credit rating indicates whether your credit repayment record is good or poor.
  • Its database has existed for longer than the Central Credit Register and so its records go back longer.
  • The ICB’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.

Rules

Information held on the databases

What loans are included?

Central Credit Register Irish Credit Bureau (ICB)
Loans for €500 or more are included on the Central Credit Register

Since June 2017:

  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Overdrafts
  • Personal loans

Since 31 March 2018:

  • Local authority loans
  • Moneylender loans

Since 21 January 2019:

  • Business loans such as loans to companies, partnerships, clubs and associations

From 30 June 2019:

  • Hire purchase agreements
  • Asset finance
  • Personal contract plans (PCPs)
Loans from registered members of ICB, including:
  • Mortgages
  • Car loans
  • Personal loans
  • Leasing and hire purchase agreements
  • Credit cards
  • Asset finance

What loans are not included?

The following information is not included on the Central Credit Register or the ICB’s database:

  • Utility bills
  • Pawnbrokers’ records
  • Income and salary information
  • Courts Service records – such as information about instalment orders or attachments of earnings
  • Insolvency Service of Ireland records (such as information about debt relief notices, personal insolvency or bankruptcy)
  • Deposit accounts
  • Tax liabilities

Consent for personal information to be included on a database

Under data protection regulations, organisations that hold your personal information must show why they are holding it.

Central Credit Register

The legal basis for the Central Bank to collect and hold personal information in the Central Credit Register is set out in the Credit Reporting Act 2013 and the Regulations.

Since 2017, lenders must submit your personal and credit information to the Central Credit Register.

Irish Credit Bureau

The ICB relies on the principle of legitimate interests under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as the legal basis to collect and process your personal and credit information.

The legitimate interests include supporting a full and accurate assessment of loan applications, helping to avoid over-indebtedness and supporting faster, consistent lending decisions. You can read more about what entitles the ICB to process your personal data (pdf).

Consent for a lender to check your credit history

When you apply for a loan, the lender must check the Central Credit Register if the loan is for €2,000 or more. Lenders can also check the Central Credit Register if the loan application is for under €2,000.

Your consent is not required for lenders to check the Central Credit Register.

Separately, you may be required to give the lender permission to check your credit history on another database, such as the ICB. Usually, this consent is part of your contract or agreement when you first apply for a loan, so you may not notice that you are giving consent.

What information about you is held on the databases?

Central Credit Register Irish Credit Bureau (ICB)
Personal information including your name, date of birth, current and previous addresses, personal public service number (PPSN), gender, eircode and telephone number

Credit information including:

  • Type of loan (for example, credit card, mortgage, overdraft, personal loan)
  • Name of the lender
  • Amount of the loan
  • Outstanding balance
  • Number of overdue payments, if any
  • Date of next payment
  • Amount of next payment
  • Your name, date of birth, gender, telephone numbers, address(es) used by you in relation to financial transactions, occupation
  • Names of lenders, types of loan, amount of loan, credit card limit, term (if applicable), opening date, payment frequency and account numbers of loans that you currently hold, or that were active within the last 5 years
  • Latest balance amount and date
  • Repayments made or missed for each month on each loan Failure to clear any loan
  • Loans that were settled for less than you owed
  • Legal actions that your lender took against you

How far back does the information go?

Central Credit Register

No details about your credit history before 30 June 2017 are held on the Central Credit Register.

If a loan was issued before June 2017 and was still active on 30 June 2017, it was reported to the Central Credit Register, with information at that date. This included the loan amount, the outstanding amount and missed payments, if any.

Irish Credit Bureau

Information about you is usually held on the ICB’s database if you have had an active loan in the past 5 years and if your lender has provided information to the ICB.

How long is information kept?

Information on your loan is held for 5 years on both the Central Credit Register and the ICB’s database. This 5-year period generally begins on the date that the loan is repaid.

Your credit report

How do you request your report?

You can request your credit report at any time – see ‘How to apply’ below.

Is there a charge for a report?

No. Your Central Credit Register and ICB credit reports are free.

What does your credit report look like?

You can go to the Central Credit Register website to see a sample credit report (pdf) and an explanation of terms (pdf).

You can go to the ICB website for a sample credit report (pdf).

Is there a rating or score on your credit report?

Credit scoring or credit rating is a technique which summarises your credit status at a particular point in time. If you have a good record of repaying loans, then you get a high score. If your repayment record is poor, you get a low score. The only way to improve your credit score is to improve your repayment record.

Members of the ICB can ask for your credit score or credit rating which is calculated on the basis of your credit history. You can check your credit report as often as you like without affecting your credit score.

The Central Credit Register does not currently score or grade credit reports. Your lender will make a decision on your loan application based on their own credit policy.

Who else will be able to access your credit report?

Only lenders can access your credit report. They may do this when:

  • You apply for a new loan
  • You apply to have your existing loan restructured
  • You have arrears on an existing loan
  • You have gone over the limit of a credit card or overdraft

No-one else, such as employers or landlords, can access your credit report on the Central Credit Register or ICB’s database without your consent.

How do you know who has been looking at your report?

Your credit report will show each time a lender has viewed your information and the reason they did so. This is called a ‘footprint’ (Central Credit Register report) or ‘history of enquiries’ (ICB report). It means that you will know who has looked at your credit report and when.

Every lender must provide you with details of any credit reference agency it has used when assessing your application for a loan.

Request a change to your credit report

What can you do if there is incorrect information on your credit report?

You have the right under the General Data Protection Directive (GDPR) to access the records held about you by credit agencies and to have incorrect information rectified. If you are not satisfied with how your request is handled, you can appeal to the Data Protection Commission.

Central Credit Register

If you believe there is inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date information in your credit report, you have a right to apply to your lender and the Central Bank to amend the information held on the Central Credit Register.

You can get more information in the Central Bank’s factsheet How to request an amendment to information on my credit report (pdf).

Irish Credit Bureau

If you want 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 the lender asks them to.

Can you add a statement to your credit report?

It is possible to add a personal statement to your credit record to clarify it. This is known as an ‘explanatory statement’ (Central Credit Register) or ‘personal declaration’ (ICB).

For example, if you have had significant expenses due to relationship breakdown, bereavement, illness or another cause, you may add these details to your record.

The statement must be factual, relevant to the information in the credit report, and under 200 words. It should not contain information that could identify another individual (such as their name or workplace).

You can get more information in the Central Bank’s factsheet Placing an explanatory statement on my credit report (pdf).

The statement is added to your credit report and it can be viewed when your data is accessed. However, lenders do not have to take your statement into account when assessing you for a loan.

Can you get bad credit details removed from your credit report?

Yes, but only if these details are incorrect. All lenders have to provide an accurate record of your credit agreements and transactions. This will include information on payments made and payments missed.

What if you suspect fraud or impersonation?

You have the right to place a notice of suspected impersonation on your Central Credit Register credit report if you believe you have been or are being) impersonated by another person.

How to apply

Central Credit Register

You can get a copy of your credit report by applying online to the Central Credit Register or by email or post.

As part of the application, the Central Credit Register will need proof of your identity: your name, address and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). This is to make sure your data protection rights are protected.

If you are applying by email, you must print, sign and scan your completed application form and then attach it (with scanned copies of your identification documents).

If you are applying by post, you will need to enclose proof of your identity with your signed application form.

Online, you can see a sample credit report (pdf) and an explanation of terms (pdf).

Irish Credit Bureau (ICB)

You can get a free copy of your credit record by applying online to the Irish Credit Bureau. 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 to the ICB. See ‘Where to apply’ below.

The report that the ICB issues will display a personal reference number. You may then contact the ICB to discuss your report, quoting this number. You cannot discuss your credit record with the ICB by phone until you have received the report.

Where to apply

Central Credit Register

First Floor
Block E
Adelphi Plaza
George's Street Upper
Dún Laoghaire
Co Dublin

Tel: (01) 224 5500
Locall: 1890 100050

Irish Credit Bureau

ICB House
Newstead
Clonskeagh Road
Dublin 14

Tel: (01) 260 0388
Fax: (01) 260 0390


Page edited: 6 June 2019