There’s a huge amount of frustration when you know your credit rating is fine but the records show otherwise. I know because it happened to me when my handbag was pinched 13 years ago and Bonnie and Clyde started passing off cheques and using my guarantee card to open accounts worth thousands, even though, of course, I had stopped everything on the night.
It resulted in a bad credit rating. My MP went straight to the top of the credit company and cleared my name. It still took 12 years, a solicitor and a trading standards officer to get the debt collectors off my back.
I told Scott Dodds my story after he sent me a frustrated email relating how his business, Hartsholme General Stores Ltd, Lincoln, fell into a ‘risk rating’ simply by being in a ‘corner shop category’.
Here’s how it happened. “About a year ago, I wanted to switch from E.ON to British Gas, which did a credit check on me with Experian, came back to me and said I had a bad credit history. Experian had said, because of the sector I worked in, I was classed as a business risk.
“I tried my hardest to talk to Experian, with no luck. During this time E.ON came back to me matching the deal (they use a different credit check company), so the result was very different.”
Scott adds that “stupidly” he gave up chasing Experian for an explanation and when he was pursuing a National Lottery terminal problems arose.
“When I spoke to Camelot two weeks ago, they advised me to sort the problem with Experian quickly or the terminal would be re-allocated I fear after two weeks of messing around I’ve now missed the boat.”
He has since been going crazy, making phone calls, sending emails, going round in circles.
A spokeswoman for Camelot sent me an overview of its credit checking processes. “If a retailer fills in the paperwork as a sole proprietor, the checks will be conducted on the individual only. If the retailer fills it in as a partnership, then the checks will be applied to all partners. And, if a retailer says they are a limited company, then the checks will be done on all directors.
“The decision will be either an Accept, a Refer or Decline. A Refer means that the application will go to our finance department for further review - this may very well result in a Decline, but it may also result in us requesting a security bond from the retailer to proceed with their application.”
She did understand Scott’s frustration, took his details and will arrange for someone at Experian to contact him.
As a further tip she suggested that Scott might consider re-registering with a different status. Scott is now going to ask his accountant whether being a sole trader rather than a limited company would be a better idea. He will also meet his MP.