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Credit check cost us our dream home

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    started a topic Credit check cost us our dream home

    Credit check cost us our dream home

    First-time buyers Simon and Kirstie Greany lost their home after credit agency Experian turned them into non-people
    Take a look at Kirstie and Simon Greany. And now consider the property behind them. They are all solidly real. But, due to a series of problems at credit checkers Experian, the Brighton flat where they live was declared to be non-existent when they applied for an Abbey mortgage.
    As a result they were then treated as non-persons and failed to get the loan they wanted which meant they lost the property they had set their hearts on.
    Their story, which shows the power of data firms to control lives and the problems that can occur when lenders rely on them, started in January when Kirstie, 28, and Simon, 31, applied for a first-time buyer loan.
    "We found Abbey via an independent mortgage broker. Everything seemed to be fine until Abbey ran an Experian credit check. There were no records for either of us," Kirstie says.
    But instead of contacting the Greanys or their broker, Abbey carried out 10 credit checks over the following 24 hours, using different details each time and still failed to find the couple.
    These checks remain on the couple's credit history a footprint of activity that can indicate to other lenders that the couple are either desperate or intent on fraud. They are neither. An online check using rival credit reference agency Equifax produced a full history. But Abbey, like many lenders, does not deal with Equifax (Experian is the market leader).
    "Experian told us to contact our banks and the council to ensure our details were correct. We did this, and a few details appeared for Simon, but nothing for me," says Kirstie, an e-learning designer.
    The couple live in a flat which, while having a constant postcode, has an address that can be expressed in different ways. This is a problem particularly for flat-dwellers: there can sometimes be confusion between the flat number and the building's street number. If the building has a name, this can complicate things further. In the Greanys' case, the system had defaulted to an address that has nothing to do with them.
    "We spent almost every day for the next three weeks phoning Experian. Initially, it said our address had too many variations. We and Experian tried entering it in different ways to try to get Experian's system to bring up our details. After three weeks of being given conflicting advice and so-called solutions by Experian, a supervisor told us that due to a system fault, no bank could view our full details on their system," Kirstie says.
    Experian offered a printed report. But Abbey, in common with many lenders, accepts only online reports, refusing to accept paper versions, which it says are open to forgery. "In any case, the printed version failed to show my credit card or phone contract details," Kirstie says.
    As a result, the couple, who accuse Experian of "fitting people to the system rather than the system to people", have lost the home they hoped to buy. So they must stay in their rented flat. And their record is festooned with credit checks which have a negative effect on other lenders.
    "We have a damaged credit score and an incomplete print-out to show to future mortgage lenders. If Experian has a monopoly of credit checks with many lenders, surely it has an obligation to do better than this?" she says. "The only good thing is that our solicitor let us off fees incurred so far."
    Abbey blames Experian for the couple's problem. It says: "Experian's records may not be as good as they could be. In this case, Experian's records are not accurate for the Greanys, and we have been prevented from seeing the complete picture. We could use Equifax, but we would have to request a manual version. We can't use a report from the customer due to fraud fears. But we are now willing to look at a future application using Equifax, though this could mean the couple have to provide additional documentation. We have asked Experian to remove all the additional credit check footprints from their records."
    Experian blames Abbey, but concedes it could have acted better. "Most lenders use us rather than Equifax, and there were several different versions of the address as well as confusion over a date of birth. Abbey could have called our helpline.
    "But we could have dealt with this better. We have now located the missing credit card details, tidied up the conflicting addresses, and made a change to their electoral listing to clarify where they live," it says.
    "We don't think we've been negligent but we could have seized the problem earlier and come up with a solution. We are happy to offer a free annual credit report membership worth 170 to Kirstie and Simon Greany."

    guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


  • righty
    Re: Credit check cost us our dream home

    " we didn't do anything wrong" Yeah right sue the bums. Until someone does (for a lot of money) the CRA's will not check their data is correct & won't give a dam about how many lives they ruin

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