A credit search footprint is a mark left on your credit file to state that a lender or credit company has looked at your file.
Most short term lenders and creditors use credit checking as an essential part of their underwriting process. By understanding how well you have previously paid other types of loans and credit cards and what amount of debt you have outstanding, they can determine whether or not they believe you can repay what you borrow.
Companies will access this information by using a UK credit reference agency such as Experian, Equifax or Call Credit. Every time a credit check is made on your name, a footprint is added to your file and this is visible to anyone else looking at your credit file in the future.
Does a Search Footprint Affect My Credit Score?
Search footprints include enquiries or application searches. Application searches may affect your credit score as they are recorded when you apply for credit.
Your credit score may be affected if you have too many search footprints on your file within a short space of time. This may suggest that you have been making lots of applications and therefore indicate financial desperation. This could cause future creditors to give you space and avoid lending to you at that time.
In addition, having several searches within a short space of time may suggest that you have been a victim of fraud. Someone that steals your personal details may be applying for finance in your name, but this can be identified through the footprints on your credit report.
It is important to note that having too few or zero credit footprints can suggest you may not be financially active enough. This means potential lenders may not have enough data to decide whether to lend to you – which is very common with young people who have little or no credit history.
How Long Does a Search Footprint Stay On My Credit File For?
Equifax states that a credit application search footprint stays on your file and then disappears after 12 months.
By comparison, if a debt collection company checks your file, this will be on record for 2 years and a loan that has been repaid or defaulted will stay on your account for 6 years.
Soft vs Hard Credit Search Footprints
Search footprints appear in two forms: soft and hard. A hard footprint is one that remains on your file for 12 months. It is usually placed on the main borrower who applies for the loan or credit when the prospective lender checks the credit report to make a lending decision.
Soft searches are credit checks that are carried out by a lender but do not leave a mark on the individual’s credit file. There are specific eligibility calculators available that mean you can check your eligibility without leaving a mark.
Soft searches may also be carried out against someone who is linked to the main borrower. Perhaps they have a joint account or a mortgage together like a family member or spouse. The soft search raises any warnings to the lender if their partner has bad credit, because this could affect eligibility, but without leaving a mark on the person’s record.
Where Can I Find This Information?
If you are interested in checking how many search footprints are on your credit file, you can sign up to view your credit report through the likes of Noddle (who offer free for life access to your credit score) or Checkmyfile (free 30-day trial). You can also request a one-off credit report for £2 from the UK’s main credit reference agencies.
If you register to check your credit report using the companies we have provided, you can also receive alerts by phone or email every time a search footprint has been made. This is an effective way to monitor any financial applications you make and also safeguard your finances from any potential fraudulent activity.