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What Is CRAIN?

There are a lot of questions one might have regarding their credit information. The most pressing of these questions, however, is how they are prepared in the first place.

You might have wondered on what grounds is an agency authorized to compile our information and make a report out of it? The answer lies in one document which is CRAIN.

What is It?

CRAIN stands for Credit Report Agency Information Notice. This document was developed in preparation for the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which went live on 25 May 2018.

CRAIN was created in conjunction with the big three credit reporting agencies to gather, share, and process any information regarding credit holders. The goal here is to give you a fairly accurate report of a person’s recent credit activities.

Ultimately the aims of CRAIN are to continue to support responsible lending, to help combat fraud and money-laundering and assist consumers with fairly repaying and lowering down debt levels.

As Steve McNicholas, Managing Director – Credit and Marketing Data, Callcredit Information Group, said:

“We are in the age of the empowered consumer where we all recognise the importance and value of our own personal information. CRAs are an integral part of the consumer lending process and wider information ecosystem. Helping people understand how their data is used and shared and how they can challenge its accuracy is an important issue. We often take for granted how data sharing has evolved and now enables people to apply for tailored financial products and gain an instant decision. The mechanics of what sit behind this are of increasing interest to information hungry consumers – transparency is key.”

One Important Note

Don’t think of this as a full list of what credit information the agencies can gather from you.  Each agency has their own set of information they deem vital for their reports.

As such, they would look for entirely different things across all your public information.

What it does tell you, however, is that the agencies will be quite extensive when it comes to gathering information from you.

Why Authorize Credit Reference Agencies to gather Information?

Why did UK law allow for agencies to gather your credit information?

There are several legitimate reasons for that:

Fostering Responsible Lending

Naturally, credit agencies would want to thrive in a system where they can sell highly valuable products and services to customers that ultimately qualify for them.

To promote this kind of system, the law must give the agencies the authority to gather pertinent information regarding a person’s credit history. This is to make sure that they can qualify for the right kind of credit depending on their circumstances.


A credit agency is tasked to help credit holder improve on their credit standing. This includes the collection of outstanding balances or confirming the identity of delinquent account holders.

Normally, they can’t do this if they couldn’t gather every possible piece of information regarding them. Also, any data that can establish their credit and debt management pattern isn’t readily available for public access.

Compliance with Regulations

Agencies are just as obligated to follow the law as UK citizens are. UK credit laws, as mandated by the Financial Conduct Authority, require loan companies to always check if an applicant is fully qualified. To do that, these loan companies will rely on the services of a reporting agency to get information regarding that applicant.

Is Your Information Protected?

What every UK credit holder has to know that every law ever made has a corresponding set of implementing rules and guidelines. The reason for this make sure that these agencies do not violate the rights of a person when performing these actions.

One of these limitations is that the agency cannot just share this information to anyone else. That requesting person/entity has to meet certain qualifications in order for their request to be approved.


What you must understand is that your credit information can be used in a number of ways. With regards to CRAIN, however, your data can only accessed for the following reasons:

1. Credit Activity Tracking

The primary purpose for gathering credit data is to establish your pattern of credit activity of sorts. This could be important for a number of reasons:

Identity Verification

Credit data is primarily there to help credit reference agencies and creditors create a profile of you. Some potential employers have even started pulling up a person’s credit report to see if what that applicant is saying matches the data on the report.

Account Management

Some businesses might put up a new database for their employees and clients or are trying to streamline an existing one. They might ask a credit reference agency for any information regarding you and cross-reference this with the data already in their system.

Debt Recovery

What if you defraud someone or actively avoided your creditors? Businesses and lenders can track you down by requesting for your credit information. Once located, all that they have to do is show up at your doorstep and demand fulfillment of your obligations.


A census bureau often uses credit reports o come up with a demographic profile of a certain region. More often than not, however, this statistical processes would most likely involve research on any topic revolving around finance.

2. Fraud Prevention

To combat Fraud and other high-collar crimes, CRAIN authorizes the three main credit reference agencies in the UK to act as a Fraud Protection Agency. This means that they can perform a number of actions which will include:

  • Check on the details provided in a credit application form and other applications for similar products and services
  • Directly oversee the management of credit accounts and other similar products
  • Cross-reference data provided on insurance claims, credit applications, and other similar documents with data they have gathered regarding several persons
  • Trace the current activities of delinquent credit holders and well as their whereabouts
  • Conduct surprise inspections on credit accounts to check for any instance of fraud
  • Perform system tests and statistical analyses on any region.

Can Credit Reference Agencies Sanction You?

What is important to understand about credit reporting agencies is that they are not an official government branch. Agencies are authorized only to gather credit information and nothing more.

This means that they can’t sanction you for anything. If the data they gathered puts you in a negative light, they can’t do anything about that. They can’t even demand for a company to reject your application.

The information that agencies can gather, however, still help lenders make crucial decisions with regards to you..

Who Qualifies to Request Your Information?

One of the safeguards that CRAIN employs against potential abuses of discretion is limiting the access to your information. Thus, nobody can easily ask an agency to pull up your credit history. However, they may request for your information if they are part of any of the groups below:

Resellers, Distributors, and Other Agents

Any business that engages in the selling of products would want to know if a client is qualified for a certain product or service.

A car company, for example, might  want to make sure that you have what it takes to pay the installment. As such, they can contact your reporting agency for any pertinent credit information.


Businesses that primarily deal with credit-type products and services will want to determine if you are a low-risk person to do business with. For this reason, they are first in line when it comes to credit report request priorities.

In addition, creditors can ask an agency to track your current whereabouts especially if you transferred premises without notifying them.

Law Enforcement

The best way to combat fraud is to identify an attacker first before they can do damage. As such, the information provided by the agency will be vital in preventing identity theft as well as in tracking down thieves.

Of course, the authorities can use agencies against you especially in any other crime that involves money. If you’ve deceived someone or a company by issuing a bouncing check, the authorities can compel a credit reporting agency to assist them in finding you.

Other Government Agencies

Legislators might also ask a reporting agency to provide them with the credit information of their constituents. This is so that they can use it for statistical purposes to identify the demographics in their administrative regions. That data might even be vital for the crafting of new consumer protection laws.

It might even be used for other administrative purposes. This includes investigating tax collection complaints and studying the performance of industries within that region.

What about YOU?

CRAIN is something that could also assist credit holders. In fact, the system helps you enforce two important rights which are as follows:

The Right to Know

Credit holders have every right to know what information an agency is gathering about them. UK law allows for credit holders to request a credit report for free once a year from their CRA of choice. As for the rest of the year, they can expect for the CRA to deliver them one through the mail or e-mail.

Also, they can request a statutory credit report from a credit reference agency at any time of the year. There will be a processing fee of £2 per request.

In addition, there are two copies of your reports prepared in every request. One goes to the company requesting the information. The other goes to your registered address.

The Right to Object

What if there is a mistake on your credit report? Would that have to stay on your record forever? The answer is no. You can always dispute it.

For instance, you look at your credit report and find out that some transactions there were not authorized by you. This is a telltale sign that somebody has stolen your identity and doing transactions on your behalf.

You have every right to notify the agency about the error and request an amendment. Some mistakes are clerical in nature. This means that the changes are merey formal.

Some changes, however, are substantial since they can affect your overall score. This includes removing or adding entries in your payment history and list of balances.

But what if the agency will object to your claim? You have the right to take the case to the proper mediating bureau or, better yet, the courts. Through a suit, you have better chances of getting the agency to make that change.However, this is certain only if the decision of the arbiter/judge is favorable to you.

In Conclusion

How often do you hear heavyweights of an industry working together? Isn’t it welcoming to know that there is a shared, single voice about how the industry is being driven. Much better surely than if agencies all had separate agendas.

CRAIN does offer a lot of oversight to credit reporting agencies in regards to the information you have put out in public. It can be a bit worrying to think that such a directive allows several agencies to have tighter control and transparency over your information.

However, CRAIN can also benefit credit holders. You can use it to your advantage to have a better grasp on your credit performance. In addition, you make sure that your credit information reflects the truest account of your financial activities.

What other issues with CRAIN do you have? Do you know of other ways you can use the document to your advantage? The comments section below is open for all sorts of discussions.