Use your Noddle: free credit reports launched

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CALLCREDIT - the UK's third largest reference agency - have announced a new service that will allow consumers to view their credit reports online for free.

Noddle plan to start offering free reports in September although, if you're very eager, the first 10,000 people to register their email addresses with the site now will be able to trial the service before it goes live.

Full, free credit reports will be a welcome replacement to 30-day free trials of credit check services.

Noddle calculate that forgetting to cancel those 'free' trials costs British consumers more than £22 million a year.

One in five of those surveyed by the site said they'd had problems with cancelling a free trial.

59% said there wasn't enough information about how to retract their membership while 32% reported having to deal with unhelpful support staff when they tried to cancel.

"A credit report is your financial passport," said Noddle head Tom Ilube.

"We want to make sure every adult has free access to their report whenever they need it."

Callcredit catch

The catch is that Callcredit might be the UK's third biggest credit reference agency to offer consumer credit reports but they're still a long way behind Equifax and Experian.

When consumers apply for a credit card, personal loan or, increasingly, sign up to a mobile phone or home broadband contract that requires a credit check the company they apply to is far more likely to check Equifax or Experian records than it is to go to Callcredit.

That makes checking a Callcredit file, while useful, intrinsically less valuable than a report from one of the more popular credit report providers.

Put simply: it's no good correcting an error on a credit file if no one checks it and the error continues to persist elsewhere.

In addition, Noddle users will also have to pay extra for premium services such as getting a credit score or alerts when lenders search the file.

Critics have also suggested that users run a high risk of being bombarded with marketing material in order to keep the site free.

That marketing material is likely to include a good few adverts for credit products such as credit cards and personal loans, not always a welcome intrusion for those who are looking at their credit reports in order to repair a damaged credit history.

The end of free trials?

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With those caveats, it's likely that Callcredit's plans won't mean the end of the free trial just yet even though, as the agency points out, they're often not as free as they appear.

Online reports you can log in and out of are likely to stay popular among those trying to find out why their credit application was rejected or when trying to improve a credit rating and the bigger the credit reference agency that offers them, the better.

In addition, in July 2010, we saw the introduction of statutory £2 credit reports online by the Government to give consumers instant access to their credit information.

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