Being in the public eye is a tricky thing, very few people remember the things you get right and everyone will remember the things you get wrong. I have been fortunate enough to have done a number of radio and television interviews in my capacity as an industry expert on fraud and credit report related issues. In the most part these have gone without a hitch; I have listened, answered questions been informative and factually accurate. There are always exceptions however, like the time my earpiece came out while remotely doing a live interview on the BBC.
Two thoughts went through my head simultaneously as I sat there unable to hear the interviewer 200 miles away in London - you have become that man on television who just points at his ear while shrugging and don't swear because your Mum is watching. Thankfully a quick thinking director must have spotted my troubles and brought the interview to a trouble free end. Or the time during a radio interview when the presenter asked me about a press release that wasn't ours, after a momentary pause I put my faith in the politician's favourite approach of "yes, I agree that is interesting. Identity theft is also interesting and our research shows..."
A couple of weeks ago I was given not just 15 minutes of fame but a whole half hour, as a panellist on the Radio 4 programme 'MoneyBox Live'. It is great being invited to be part of MoneyBox as it marries together the real concerns of people listening with expert advice whether from presenter Paul Lewis or his guests. As a guest it is exciting as you don't set the agenda, the callers do that, your job is to eloquently and accurately answer their questions. No press releases or statements to read from, no pre-prepared statistics. This time however I was there to answer questions relating to someone else's mistake that was on our minds; the IT problems of RBS/NatWest and how they were impacting people. I wasn't asked for insight on the where's and why's of what had gone wrong and it is definitely not my place to talk about the rights and wrongs of such a situation, the questions I answered concerned what impact this may have on an individual's credit report and what they can do about rectifying any issues.
I was able to explain that your credit rating can be negatively impacted if you have missed payments recorded on your credit report; a history of not making payments on time makes a prospective lender worry that you may not pay them on time either. Whilst the credit reference agencies are working closely with RBS/NatWest to make sure accounts don't get reported incorrectly, there is a chance that some accounts held with other lenders will be paid late and be noted as such on your credit file. If this happens it's important to remember you have a number of options available to you; you can contact the credit reference agency who will raise a dispute with the lender on your behalf. Provided the lender is happy that the missed payment is an error they will correct the entry. However if the lender doesn't accept that the missed payment is an error you can still place a Notice of Correction on your credit file. This is a short statement written by you that you can use to explain the circumstances around any information on your credit report and any prospective lender is obliged to read this before making a decision about credit. The important thing to remember is that you can influence what your credit report says and as a result take control of your credit worthiness.
Mistakes will always be made whether it is a bank making an IT change or mixing up the Korean flags in the Olympics, however it is how we recover from these mistakes that defines how they are remembered; RBS/NatWest will need to restore the faith of their customers, individuals need to ensure their credit reports are an accurate reflection of their payment history and I need to ensure that I am always ready to deal with the unexpected including 30 minutes of fame!
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