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Could free credit checks be a scam?
2:00PM GMT 16 Mar 2015
I was pleased to read your suggestion that one could get a free credit check by using Callcredit for which you give contact details.
However, being of a suspicious turn of mind, I checked it out and now wonder if it is a scam.
Common sense would suggest that a “free” agency which asks for all your credit card details etc is up to no good.
This is about Noddle, part of the Callcredit Information Group, at noddle.co.uk. Getting a credit report this way is free for life but the company markets optional add-ons such as Noddle Improve, which gives bespoke advice on how to buff up your credit score, and Noddle Web Watch, another charged-for service which scours the Internet for any indication that your personal details are being traded or sold fraudulently and alerts you if they are.
Noddle also makes commission through various products, such as lifestyle offers. There is a facility on its site to unselect these offers.
You are uneasy that as part of the online signing-up process for the free Noddle service debit or credit card details are required. The same applies when buying the £2 statutory report online. This gives a snapshot of the credit information on the day, but comes without the marketing.
Callcredit said it took the card details for ID verification, as it had information that linked a credit card to name, address and date of birth. Card details are encrypted, kept for 12 months and not used to take payment.
Experian and Equifax, the other two main credit reference agencies, also use card details to help authenticate such transactions online.
Of course, card details can be abused and giving them out can lead to justifiable unease. For those without a card, Noddle will ask for paper-based verification and the application would be completed offline.
The same applies for a statutory report offline. For these, payments can be made by cheque or postal order and posted to the customer’s registered address. This verifies the address, although other evidence may be needed.
People are most likely to view their credit file at a time when there are changes in a mortgage, or when a loan is needed for, say, a car or house repairs. Monitoring a personal credit rating will not be a large issue for those for whom such transactions are unlikely to apply.