We all know about credit scores, credit scoring and credit reports. Whenever you apply for a financial product, you’ll be credit scored to make sure that you can afford to pay the money back. But what you might not know is that you’ll also be fraud scored, too – whereby separate agencies look over your application and past financial dealings to determine whether or not you’re a fraud risk.
Fraud scoring works in a few different ways depending on the agency, but most agencies share a few consistent traits. One of the major things you need to know is that fraud checking and fraud scoring is less factual than credit scoring, and this means that the system is open to greater error.
Fraud scoring agencies will look at your most recent application as well as any other applications you might have made in the past. It’ll then look at inconsistencies between the two and will keep an eye out for errors, such as incorrect addresses or different names. Fraud checks won’t automatically deny your application, however, but they will throw up a “red flag” to potential lenders. Lenders can then choose to do some of their own checks, or they can ignore the information – but they are not allowed to deny your application based on the red flag alone.
Other agencies will simply have a file of people who are known to have committed fraud in the past – although sometimes, people can appear on this list if they live at an address known to have been connected with fraud in the past, even if they have not personally committed fraud.
You can learn more about the data that fraud agencies hold about you. Each financial institution will use different fraud agencies, so write to the institution that you’re looking to apply for a product with and ask them which fraud agency you use. You can then send a letter to the agency, asking them to provide you with details of the information that they hold on you. Some agencies will require a fee, others will provide this information for free. You’ll then receive the information, which is effectively a collection of past applications that you’ve made, and you’ll be able to see if there’s any conflicting information.
Unfortunately, if there is conflicting information, you can’t correct it through the fraud checking agency. Instead, you’ll have to write to the credit agency that you made the application to and ask them to correct their details. This is definitely a long-winded process, but if you’re applying for a large financial product like a mortgage, it’s definitely worth it.
Fraud Scoring Tips
Make a note of the answers that you give on application forms so that you can use the same information – including spelling, job description, address etc. Even capitalizing parts of your address differently could mean that the agency puts a red flag on your file, so make absolutely sure that the data you use for each and every application is exactly the same.
Come back soon for more credit report and fraud advice.