An internet service has been launched to let people check their credit rating.
People will see if a lender is likely to see them as credit-worthy
For a £11.75 fee the encrypted service from Equifax, one of the UK's two major credit reference agencies, will outline an individual's credit history.
In addition, the website will tot up an individual's credit score and explain how lenders are likely to use this.
The service will also suggest ways in which people can improve their credit score, such as making sure they are on the electoral register.
Consumers using the site will have to validate who they are before being able to purchase information on their credit rating.
People will only be able to access their own credit file.
Banks and building societies make decisions on who they are going to lend to based on information held by credit reference agencies.
Some lenders rely on the credit agencies to produce a score for an individuals credit-worthiness before loaning money.
"Consumers are often baffled by credit scoring, this service will take them through their file and explain how banks reach a lending decision on them," Neil Munroe, Equifax spokesman told BBC News Online.
Mr Munroe added that individuals should check their credit file at least twice a year as a means of protecting themselves against fraud and checking that information held on them by lenders is correct.
Any database is only good as its data entry! We've only had credit refused once, but when we checked our credit file the reason became obvious. The company we wanted credit from had totally mistyped our address into the system and therefore couldn't find us.
Richard Mortimer, Milton Keynes, UK
I tried several years ago to purchase a mobile phone on contract, but was turned down due to the records showing me as a 'Miss'. This was obviously wrong and their credit check was incorrect, but they said records were from the electoral register. I checked the ER and my details were correct. I never bought the phone or got to the bottom of the problem.
Mr. K. Gait, Macclesfield
I do not see why I should have to pay to view my own credit record. I did not directly ask for these companies to build a database based on my private information, and then sell it for profit.
D McDonald, London
I have also had an credit check made against my file in which they spelt my name incorrectly. As a result, my application was refused. The search was reflected on my file. If they cannot confirm my address due to the name being obviously wrongly spelt, how is it that they can then show it as a search on my name (correctly spelt)? Credit files are a hit and miss affair, as most companies only utilise one of the two main rating agencies. There is also no requirement for companies to provide accounts with a good payment history to the rating agencies. Therefore, this often is not shown on your file. This has resulted in me having very different looking credit files between the two agencies. As there is a legal right to hold all this personal data on people, there must be strict guidelines to ensure that all data is shown, and that it is shown accurately, and is up to date.
This is actually a good idea, because it used to take ages to get copies of this data. Also, companies like Equifax are obliged to correct errors on your credit rating. I had a couple of erroneous entries on mine removed - all I had to do was provide the evidence of what I was saying and it was sorted within a couple of weeks.
Mike Hall, Honiton, UK