What is a credit rating?

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

It includes details such as the amount of the loan, the outstanding amount and any missed payments.

These credit reports are available to lenders such as banks and credit unions and help them to assess a borrower’s ability to repay loans.

Where is this information held?

There are two database that collect information on loans in Ireland:

  • (A) Central credit register – this is operated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Banks, credit unions and other lenders are required by law to send information on loans to this entity for recording. They must also consult the register before approving a loan.
  • (B) Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) – this database contains information on the performance of credit agreements between borrowers and financial institutions such as banks, building societies. The ICB is owned and financed by its members, which are mainly financial institutions. The ICB enables financial institutions to check and share borrowers’ previous credit performance (called a credit report) with regard to all credit agreements. This information is updated monthly.
  • Who can request a credit report?

    Any member of the ICB can request a credit report when assessing a loan application for a borrower.

    All loans are registered with the ICB, including all records of any missed payments.

    Any borrower can also request their own personal credit report free of charge.

    The ICB complies fully with the Data Protection Act 2018, which gives all private individuals the right to inspect their own personal ICB report.

    How long is this information held?

    Typically, the credit profile of anyone is reported over a 24-month repayment period. Information is held for five years after a credit agreement is closed.

    Does this affect me (a borrower) when applying for a loan?

    When assessing a loan, a lender will require information about your income, employment, existing loan repayments and living expenses to enable them to decide if you can afford to repay a loan.

    Part of the process will include checking your credit rating with the ICB, which will give an indication of whether you are likely to repay the loan.

    If you have a good repayment history, it will be a positive report; if there are previous missed payments or non-payment of previous loans, it will be a poor credit rating report.

    How does a financial institution get my authority to check my credit history?

    When you sign a loan or mortgage application, you are giving the lender your authority to check your credit history with credit reference agencies such as the ICB.

    The lender will request your credit history and assess your loan application based on information it receives.

    The ICB does not approve loans, this is the responsibility of the financial institution.

    Can I get a copy of my credit report?

    Yes, you are entitled to receive a full copy of any data held in your respect on ICB’s database.

    You can request the report online from the ICB website by completing an application form or you can phone 01-260 0388 and request the form be posted to you.

    Your signature is necessary to enable ICB to process your request.

    What if there is a mistake on the report?

    Financial institutions are obliged under law to ensure information held on anyone is up to date and correct.

    If there is a mistake, you have the right to have it rectified.

    You will need to contact the financial institution and request them to rectify the mistake with the ICB. The ICB can then update your record.

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