If you have ordered your credit report and found it wasn’t as good as you hoped, there are things you can do to improve it – but it could take time.

First things first: find out what’s gone wrong and take steps to avoid the same problems in the future. Your credit report is entirely repairable.

Identify the problem

The first thing to do is find out what you’re dealing with by reading your credit report, so you can work out what’s gone wrong. Here are some suggestions:

Check for false entries – Sometimes past lenders may have forgotten to record a debt as paid, or they may have accidentally left a negative mark on your credit history for something that wasn’t your fault. If there is anything incorrect on your report, call the lenders involved and ask them to change the entry.

Register on the electoral roll – Register to vote at your current address so that lenders can find you easily. It also helps to combat fraud.

Get a bank account – Simply having a bank account is better than having none at all. Stay with the same bank for longer and you’ll receive more points on your credit score than someone who has just opened an account. Additionally, avoid using an unauthorised overdraft and make sure there is always enough money in your account to cover any debits or standing orders.

What if I can’t open a bank account? Have a look at the basic bank account options that don’t require a credit check.

Make payments on time and pay off arrears – Time can heal this problem, as long as you are able to make your payments when you’re asked to in the future. If you accidentally missed a few payments for one reason or another, making them regularly and on time in the future will show anyone who looks at your credit record that you have fixed the problem and can manage your financial commitments better than before.

What if I can’t afford my payments? Sometimes it isn’t possible to make the full payments on time for unsecured debts like credit cards and loans – perhaps because you only have enough to pay your mortgage at the time.

In these circumstances, professional debt advice from debt management companies could help. If debt management is suitable, you could lower your monthly payments to an affordable level, keeping enough of your income back for your mortgage and other essential expenses.

Unfortunately debt management won’t improve your credit rating. In fact it will damage it, because lowering your repayments will remain visible on your credit record for three to six years. However, if you are able to stick to a new repayment agreement and even raise your repayments when your circumstances improve, you’ll at least be on the road to improving your finances.

Is your financial behaviour improving?

Your credit report dates back six years, so don’t worry if you made financial mistakes in your 20s and you’re now in your 40s – people change and those mistakes probably won’t matter so much now.

If you have debt problems now, or did in the last six years, all is not lost, because your credit report is entirely repairable. Generally, it is better if someone looks at your credit report now (or in the future) and sees that you are taking positive steps to manage your credit well.