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A credit report is a document, which details your financial history with respect to all forms of credit. The key types of credit or borrowing instruments that form a part of the credit report include credit cards and all sorts of loans - personal loanhome loancar loan, etc. to name a few. The important thing to note here is that such information is a historic representation, so in case you have never taken a loan or a credit card, your report, when generated will reflect the same.

Key Information Contained in a Credit Report

Apart from the historic records pertaining to your borrowing instruments such as loans and credit cards, your credit report also includes the following key identity information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • PAN Number
  • Additional Identity Information such as serial number of Driving License, Voter’s ID card, etc.
  • Your current and previous residential addresses
  • Your current and previous employers with address
  • Income tax information availed through previous IT filings
  • Dates on which your credit report was pulled by lenders to determine loan/credit card eligibility
  • Information related to overdraft facilities available with your banking accounts etc.

Companies that Prepare Credit Reports in India

Credit Score CycleIn India, these reports are prepared by companies known as credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus, who collect the borrower’s information from banks and NBFCs (non-banking financial companies) as well as various government agencies such as the Income Tax department. Three credit reporting agencies provide these reports in India - CRIF High Mark,EquifaxExperian and CIBIL TransUnion. Each of these companies have slightly different credit scoring models, hence the same individual’s credit score can vary in reports prepared by different agencies.

The idea of these credit scoring models is not to deny loans to a customer, but to avoid expanding credit to a customer with a bad credit history, thereby limiting the chances of repayment defaults. Credit reporting agencies have brought in the change to the in-house scoring model of the banks by introducing a transparent credit scoring model, which benefits the customer and banks equally. While for the customers, these agencies create more room for lower interest rates, for banks and NBFC’s they provide convenience by offering useful and relevant information.

  • CIBIL TransUnion Credit Report: CIBIL stands for Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd. and it was set up as India's first credit bureau. Currently, CIBIL has teamed up with TransUnion, a globally recognised credit rating and analytics company to provide CIBIL credit report to Indian individuals. Lenders who are registered members of CIBIL submit monthly reports to CIBIL regarding its borrowers and CIBIL TransUnion prepares its reports based on such information. CIBIL credit reports are not free and they are available in lieu of a fee, but it does have the facility of providing instant credit report online. Key Institutions that have holdings in CIBIL TransUnion include Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, India Alternatives Private Equity Fund, Aditya Birla Trustee Company Private Ltd., Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Trans Union International Inc.
  • Experian Credit Report: Experian India is a completely owned subsidiary of Dublin, Ireland-based Experian LLC and operates as Experian Credit Information Company of India Private Limited. Experian’s credit reports include details of all your previous loans and credit cards, however, it uses its proprietary statistical algorithm to calculate your credit score hence the score provided by Experian would be different from that provided by CIBIL TransUnion and Equifax. Experian India does not currently provide free credit reports and you can get hold of yours for a specific fee. You can access your Experian credit report online as well as through mail, to check on your eligibility for loans and credit cards as well as to identify instances of identity theft. This credit bureau is still to provide instant credit reports. Some leading Indian financial institutions that have collaborated with Experian include Union Bank of India, Sundaram Finance, Punjab National Bank, Magna Finance, Federal Bank, Axis Bank and Indian Bank.
  • Equifax Credit Report: Equifax is an Alanta, US-based international organisation engaged in providing information solutions for the workforce, commercial and consumer segments. Equifax India operates as ECIS (Equifax Credit Information Services Private Limited), which is a collaboration of Equifax with leading financial institutions in India such as Union Bank of India, Sundaram Finance Limited, Religare Finvest Limited, Kotak Mahindra Prime Limited, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and State Bank of India. The consumer credit bureau department of Equifax India has been operational since September, 2010 and you can get a copy of your free Equifax Credit Report through Paisabazaar.com.
  • CRIF High Mark Credit Report: CRIF High Mark is India’s only full service credit bureau which provide credit reports for Individuals across Retail, Agri and Microfinance lending, and Businesses. CRIF Credit Report includes a credit score in the range of 300-900; details of all your current & previous loans and credit cards; and your personal details captured in the credit bureau. You can instantly access your CRIF Credit Score online for a specific fee. CRIF, included in FinTech 100,  is among the leading providers of banking credit information in continental Europe. It is also among the key global players who specialize in business information, analytics, scoring, decision and credit management solutions. CRIF High Mark’s other investors include State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, SIDBI, Edelweiss and Shriram City Union.

The primary purpose of these reports is to help lenders such as banks and NBFCs determine the credit worthiness of loan/credit card applicants. Your report contains data regarding how closely you have followed the payment schedule of your previous/current loans and credit cards. In case of missed payments or past due payments, this information is also present in the report and related penalties are applied when calculating your credit score. The credit score itself is a 3 digit number, which is derived statistically by taking multiple parameters into account and as a rule of thumb, the closer you are closer to 900, the more credit worthy you are believed to be by the prospective lender. Conversely, the closer your score is to the 300 mark, the less credit worthy you are determined to be and the less the probability of your loan/credit card applications being sanctioned by a prospective lender.

Must ReadHow is CIBIL Calculated

However, prospective lenders are not the only people who have access to these reports. You can also access a copy of your own report. Using those, you can figure out your eligibility for loans and credit cards that you may be interested in. It is in fact recommended that you get a copy of your report at least once a year to ensure that the information in the document is up to date and correct. Errors in your credit report can cost you dearly as if it may lead to rejection of credit card/loan applications as well as availability of lesser loan amounts or high interest rates charged to loans and credit cards issued to you.

If you have been rejected for a loan or credit card, there is a high probability that it happened because there is information in your credit card that marks you as a borrower with low credit worthiness. That’s the bad news. The good news is – it’s not the end world and with a small amount of effort you have an opportunity to improve your credit worthiness. For starters, any information featured on your report only stays there for a limited period usually five years or less. So any information beyond that period is replaced by the new information that you add. So start following the tricks and tips mentioned below to start laying the foundation of a good credit score and a blemish-free credit report in the future:

  • Ensure your pay your credit card bills and loan EMI on time and in full every month
  • Do not apply for multiple loans and credit cards simultaneously
  • Periodically check your report for mistakes and get them corrected if necessary
  • Keep your debt to credit limit ratio lower than 50% across all credit cards
  • Ensure that you do not have multiple outstanding unsecured loans/credit cards

Among the above, the main reason why many people have a low credit score is due to late payment of EMIs and credit cards, which is easily avoidable through a small amount of financial discipline. The other common reasons such as a high debt to credit limit ratio and multiple outstanding loans is usually as a result of lifestyle inflation and also avoidable through a small degree of financial planning.

Must ReadWays to Improve your Credit Score

As mentioned earlier, credit reports can be requested by individuals for themselves and in India, you can request reports from Equifax, Experian, CRIF High Mark or CIBIL TransUnion. In most cases, the turnaround time i.e. time duration between application submission and receipt of the report will vary as will the associated charges and the documents required. In simple terms, you can apply for a copy of these reports for yourself either online or offline.

Online Application Procedure

In case of an online application you need to do the following:

  • Fill out the form provided online including name, DOB, PAN Card number etc.
  • Pay the required fees* through credit card/debit card or net banking.
  • Provide the answers to authentication tests if required (this is required to ensure your identity)
  • In case you fail to pass the authentication test, you have to upload digital copies of your documents to get hold of your report

In case of online reports, the credit bureau sends those out via password-protected email attachment to your registered email id and through speed post, courier sent to your home address within 7 to 10 working days.

*If you apply for a free online Equifax Credit Report by logging on to Paisabazaar.com.

Offline Application Procedure

In case you plan to apply through the offline route, you need to do the following:

  • Download and fill out the application form from the relevant website - Experian, Equifax or CIBIL.
  • Attach any and all self attested documents such as copies of PAN Card, Driving License, Electricity bill etc. as mentioned on the application form
  • Enclose a Demand Draft payable to the relevant authority for the required amount and mail it to the address mentioned on the website/application form.

In case of offline applications, you should receive your report within 10 working days by courier at the address mentioned by you on the application form. You can also check your application status online in the interim.

Due to the interchangeable use of these closely related terms, there is often confusion between the terms credit score, credit report and credit rating. Following is a table comparing these three terms**:

Credit Score

Credit Report

Credit Rating

A statistically generated three digit number that sums up your credit worthiness.

A historical record of the repayment schedules of all loans and credit cards of an individual.

This is applicable to companies, countries and various exchange traded funds. Credit rating acts as an equivalent of a credit score for these.

A high credit score (closer to 900) improves your chances of getting accepted for a loan and closer you are to 300 (low credit score) adversely affects you chances of successful approval for loans/credit cards.

A clean credit report leads to a good credit score and through historic data proves that the borrower has a good track record managing various debt instruments.

Credit rating is usually denoted by grades such as AAA, AA, B++ etc. A company rated as AAA would be able to raise funds at a much lower rate as compared to companies with lower ratings.

Changes depending upon the credit related behaviour of the individual.

An entry in your report stays on for around 5 years till it is replaced by newer entries.

Changes depending upon the performance of the industry, the market or the company/country/fund.

**The above table is indicative and the information provided is subject to change.

Credit Report for Business

Similar to individual reports, a business credit report is also generated by various credit bureaus and these reports play a major role in determining the sanction of business loans. You can get a business credit report from CIBIL TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. Unfortunately, a free credit report is currently only available for individuals therefore you will have to pay a fee when you seek a business credit report. Additionally, business credit reports take a few more business days to be received as compared to an instant credit report available to individuals online for a fee.

A credit report is analogous to a medical file and you need to well-versed with some key terms when reading this report that describes your financial health. The following are some must know terms that are key to understanding your paid or free credit report:

NA/NH : In case you do not have a credit card and have never taken a loan, this is what your credit score would look like. Otherwise, it could mean that you have no credit activity for the past 2 years or that you have no credit exposure as you use add-on cards that are linked to your spouse’s or parent's account.

STD : This entry is found against loan/credit card accounts if payments are made in a timely manner or made within 90 days of the due date.

SMA : An account classified as special mention account (SMA) if payments have been delayed loan/credit card for over 90 days.

SUB : This refers to substandard and a borrowing account is classified as such if it has been a non-performing asset for not less than a year.

DBT: An account is classified as DBT (doubtful) if the account has been in SUB status for 12 months.

LSS : Lenders tag a loan/credit card account as LSS signifying loss if an account remains uncollectible after having been previously tagged as DBT.

DPD : Days past due (DPD) is tag attached to an account and it indicates the number of days by which a scheduled payment was delayed for the account. Ideally this should show up as 000, meaning no late payments.

Written Off/Settled Status : This appears every report and in many cases the field is left blank. In case it is populated, it means that the lender and you came to an agreement after you were unable to make the regular payments on a loan/credit card. WO = Written off, Restructured Loan, Settled and Post (WO) Settled are the terms this field may be populated with.

The terms mentioned above are just a representative list and the list is by no means exhaustive.

Q1. What is CIBIL?

CIBIL or TransUnion CIBIL Limited is India’s oldest Credit Information Company (CIC). CIBIL is an acronym for Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited. Since its establishment the year 2000, CIBIL has been collecting and maintaining records of Indian residents with respect to their loans and credit cards provided by banks and NBFCs in the country. This information is used to generate CIBIL Credit Reports and calculate the credit scores for new loan as well as credit card applicants.   

Q2. What is CIBIL Score?

The CIBIL Score, also known as the CIBIL TransUnion Score, is a 3-digit whole number in the range of 300 to 900 that summarises how well or how poorly you have dealt with loans or credit cards in the past. The higher your CIBIL score, the better your chances of being approved for additional credit in the future.   

Q3. How is my CIBIL Score calculated?

Your CIBIL Score is calculated using a complex statistical model, which is a proprietary business secret of TransUnion and CIBIL hence not available to the general public. The statistical model identifies multiple variables in your credit report in order to calculate credit scores. 

Q4. Would my CIBIL score ever change?

Yes. Your CIBIL Score depends on multiple factors such as all current and previous loans/credit cards, payment history of credit instruments, number of outstanding loans/credit cards as well as your overall credit to debt ratio. A change in any of these factors can bring about a change in your CIBIL Score. Thus, little noticed factors such as missed payments and maxing out your credit cards as well as more noticeable factors such as a new home loan or car loan can lead to changes in your credit score.       

Q5. Is CIBIL the only one who provides a CIBIL Score?

Yes. CIBIL Score is provided only by TransUnion CIBIL Limited and it is only one of 4 companies that provide credit scores and reports in India. Apart from CIBIL, three more credit reporting agencies are currently licensed to operate in India – Experian, Equifax and CRIF HighMark and they provide Experian Score, Equifax Score and CRIF HighMark Score respectively.    

Q6. Is Credit Information Report same as CIBIL Score?

No. Your score is only a small part of your credit report, which is also known as the Credit Information Report. Apart from your score, your CIBIL report would also include details of various loans and credit cards that you have had over the past 5 to 7 years. Credit card/ loan details included in your credit report include credit limits, your repayment track record, the number of credit checks that have been made by prospective lenders in the past and a lot more. Just like a medical report, tells you about how you are doing physically, a credit report provides details about your financial health.   

Q7. Can everyone access my CIBIL Score?

No. Your CIBIL Score is confidential personal information that only a few authorised entities apart from you are allowed to access and that too under specific circumstances such as when you apply for a new loan or credit card. Authorised persons who can access your CIBIL Score/Report include Financial Institutions and Banks who are CIBIL Members and they are legally required to NOT share any of your information with any unauthorised third party.

To dispel some of the common myths associated with credit score, please read “Top 4 Credit Score Myths Debunked”      

Q8. How do I check my CIBIL Score?

You can get your CIBIL Report and score online by logging on to the CIBIL website and paying their fee (approx. Rs. 500). You are required to input some personal information like your PAN Number, etc. and answer some verification questions to prove your identity. Once all some details have been completed, your report will be prepared and displayed online as well as sent to your registered address as a printed copy if you request one. At present, CIBIL Report is NOT available for free from any company, however, you might get a discount in some cases if you apply for your CIBIL report through select CIBIL Member banks. The current rules are expected to change in 2017, and you may get your CIBIL report for free once a year upon requesting it.  

Q9. How to check CIBIL Score Using PAN Card?

In India, your PAN (Permanent Account Number) acts as a unique identifier for various financial transactions and checking your CIBIL report and score is no different. So make sure you keep your PAN Card number handy in case you are applying for your credit report from CIBIL TransUnion. 

Q10. How to check CIBIL Score for free?

You would find many websites offering this service however CIBIL Score is currently NOT available for free and the paid report is only available through the CIBIL TransUnion website. From 2017 onwards, you may be able to get your CIBIL Score for free as per a recent RBI circular. 

Q11. How did CIBIL know about my loans and credit cards?

CIBIL works on a reciprocity principle i.e. CIBIL Members can access the records of CIBIL only if the members (Banks and NBFCs) provide CIBIL TransUnion with records of their borrowers. In this manner, all your loan and credit card information gets reported CIBIL by your existing lenders and these form the basis of your report and score. The same logic holds true for credit scores prepared by Experian, Equifax and CRIF HighMark.  

Q12. Would checking my CIBIL Score cause it to decrease?

No. If you check your credit report or score, it is considered to be a “soft look” and this type of check does not affect your credit score in any way. This holds true no matter for any credit score not just your CIBIL score. You can check your Experian credit score for free through Paisabazaar.com.    

Q13. Why do banks need to check my CIBIL Score?

Banks are businesses and they want to make money, so when granting a new loan or credit card, they want to be as sure as possible that the applicant will be able to pay it back. By accessing your credit report and score from CIBIL, Experian etc., the loan officer at the bank can make a more informed decision regarding whether you are a low risk borrower who has little chance of defaulting or a high risk borrower with a high risk of defaulting. Depending upon this analysis, your loan interest rate, loan quantum, credit limit for a new credit card, etc. are determined.   

Q14. Why is a credit card account that I already paid off and closed still on my report?

Your current lenders report your loan/credit card status to CIBIL periodically and these details get reflected in your report over time. Therefore if you close out a loan or credit card account this month, it might be a couple of months before it gets reflected in your credit report. Other causes of such discrepancy may be a reporting error by the bank or NBFC that you took the loan or credit card from or you may be a victim of identity theft.

Q15. What happens if my CIBIL CIR has errors?

In case you find errors in your CIBIL CIR, you can apply to have those corrected by contacting CIBIL TransUnion directly and following their rectification procedure. As part of this process, you will be required to submit supporting documents (bank NOC, loan settlement letter, etc.) and also a nominal fee to get your records updated.

For additional details, please read “How to Resolve your Credit Report Disputes”. 

Q16. Can CIBIL delete or change my credit information on its own?

No. CIBIL does not have the authority to delete or make changes to your credit report on its own. They are only involved with collating the data as provided by banks and NBFCs. However, in cases of credit report disputes, CIBIL will make changes to your credit report provided there is sufficient documentary evidence to show that an error has indeed occurred. However, the concerned bank or NBFC will have to provide the necessary clearance before such changes are made.  

Q17. What is CIBIL 2.0?

Over the past few months, CIBIL TransUnion has been shifting to a new scoring model in order to be more relevant with changing customer credit data and profiles as well as current economic trends. This new scoring model has been termed as CIBIL 2.0. The main change is an assignment of risk index from 1 to 5 to individuals with relatively new credit history (less than 6 months). The higher the numeric value of the risk index, the lower the perceived risk of default.

Read “All you need to know About CIBIL Score” for more info.   

Q18. Does CIBIL Score affect my chances of getting a new loan or credit card?

At present, your credit score whether reported by CIBIL, Experian, Equifax or CRIF HighMark, is one of the key factors that determine if you are eligible for a new credit product. Though different banks and NBFCs have different cut off criteria and these are not available to the general public, having a high credit score (closer to 900) definitely improves your chances of getting approved for additional credit.

For more information about how to improve your score, read “Tips to Improve Your Credit Score”.      

Q19. How much CIBIL Score is good?

There is no clear data available at present regarding what is a good or high CIBIL score for getting loans or credit cards. As mentioned earlier, the CIBIL Score range is from 300 to 900, therefore the closer you are to 900, the better your chances of approval.

Q20. What is the minimum CIBIL Score required for personal loan?

Banks or NBFCs in India currently do not publish any clear data regarding what is the minimum CIBIL Score they require for granting a personal loan. However, they also do not grant a personal loan without CIBIL check. So be on the safe side and ensure you have a credit score as close to 900 as possible in order to maximise your chances of personal loan approval.    

Q21. What is the minimum CIBIL Score for a home loan?

Because banks and NBFCs do not publish any data with respect to a minimum qualifying CIBIL Score for home loans, a higher CIBIL Score improves your chances of a successful home loan application.

Q22. How much credit score is required for a credit card?

Currently, you cannot get a credit card without CIBIL check no matter what your credit card agent tells you and having a high CIBIL score would definitely bolster your chances of a successful application. As of now, credit card issuers so not publish data regarding a minimum credit score for credit card, thus higher scores are better.    

Q23. How do I increase/improve my CIBIL Score?

CIBIL Score is based on your credit history and it cannot be increased overnight no matter what a self-styled CIBIL Score improvement agency might tell you. It starts with paying your credit card dues and EMIs on time, while also requiring you to minimise your outstanding debt.

For more tips on how to improve your CIBIL score, please read “Establishing a Strong Credit Score: 9 Tips and Tricks”.

Q24. How many years does CIBIL keep record of defaulters?  

At present CIBIL does not publish a specific “Defaulters’ List”, however, your loan/credit card default records though show up on your credit report. The details of such a default would show up on your CIBIL report for a maximum of 7 years.

Loan demands witnessed 30% drop post demonetisation

25 Jan, 2017: According to CIBIL, overall loan disbursements in all loan categories dropped by 30% in India post demonetisation.

Gold loans and other consumer durables loans witnessed a steep decline of close to 60% during November and December 2016. More significantly, the demand for two wheeler loans, housing loans, auto loans and personal loans dropped by 40%, 27%, 16% and 25% respectively during the same period.

On the other hand, credit card usage has increased to 41% after demonetisation. States such as Gujarat, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have witnessed a significant drop in new loan applications. However, in these states, credit growth has risen subsequently after New Year.

CIBIL Report: Auto and Consumer Durable loans worst hit

12 Jan, 2017: CIBIL TransUnion announced that two wheeler and consumer durable loan application numbers have been adversely affected by the demonetisation drive. Number of loans sanctioned by Private Banks and NBFCs were severely impacted by demonetisation and the worst hit states include Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

The demand for credit cards and auto loans declined after 8th November but it was picked up later in December. According to CIBIL, the so termed “short term disruption” caused by demonetisation has put the brakes on an unprecedented growth of the credit market in India which started 4 years back.

In January- September 2016 period, consumer loan demands increased by 35% percent over previous year’s numbers. The application volumes of these loans declined drastically during the November-December 2016 period. The CIBIL announcement also states that other loans which include auto, housing, and personal loan segments have also witnessed significant decline in the expected application numbers subsequent to demonetisation.

The two-wheeler loan application volumes declined by 42.9% the expected volume of 1.4 million applications.  The auto industry has seen the lowest demand in past 16 years. Similarly for consumer durable loans, there was a 60% drop from the expected number of 3 million applications.

Credit Report