A good credit score is the foundation of a healthy financial lifestyle. It plays an important role in your ability to do things like renting or buying a house, buying a car, getting a loan, and even getting a mobile phone contract.
Problem is, while most Kenyan consumers know what a credit report is, far fewer understand how it influences their credit score and can help them access credit and achieve their financial goals, says Joseph Nyaga, acting chief executive at TransUnion Kenya. That’s why a vital part of the journey to financial health is maintaining and improving your financial health to get a good credit score.
“One of the best ways to improve your credit score is to avoid over indebtedness and maxing out your credit facilities. Check the credit limits on your loans, accounts, credit cards and overdrafts, and then see how much you owe on each of them. Make a plan to maintain a healthy amount of headroom in your lending facility and pay off as much of your outstanding balances as possible if you have the means: it will reflect on your score and ease the pressure on your finances,” said Nyaga.
Improving your credit score starts with checking your credit report. You can download your credit report for free once every 12 months from TransUnion and other credit bureaus in the country. You can also request a credit report or access your Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) clearance certificate through TransUnion’s Nipashe, which allows consumers to easily access their credit information through SMS. Your first clearance certificate is free.
Beware of scams, keep your finances secure
Importantly, you cannot improve your credit score and ‘clean-up’ your credit file by using so-called ‘credit repair’ services that promise you a fresh start for your credit history, warns Nyaga.
“Getting your credit back on track may seem tempting, but it’s actually a scam. Be very careful of so-called ‘credit repair agents’ who claim to be able to remove valid listings for an upfront fee. This practice is illegal, and you could end up losing your money,” said Nyaga. “One way to dispute inaccurate information on your TransUnion credit report is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”
These scams often take the form of fake ads on a range of digital and social media channels. The ads may appear to come from TransUnion, saying that they will manage credit disputes on consumers’ behalf, or even clear their disputes and credit history. The ads use TransUnion’s web address, but the contact number is fictitious.
There are certain things TransUnion will never do when you’re accessing your credit report, says Nyaga.
- It will never ask you to share OTP numbers over the phone when accessing your Clearance Certificates.
- It will never handle disputes via social platforms or online classifieds. It does not share information on any other social media platforms.
- TransUnion will never use phone numbers that are not listed on the www.transunionafrica.com website. Make sure you click through to the website to see the phone numbers that are listed on the ‘contact us’ page. If you’re unsure about the authenticity of a message from TransUnion, contact the company’s Kenya office on one of the following numbers: +254 742258478, +254 768617074, +254 768253748, +254 768262495, +254 706565285.
- TransUnion will never communicate via email on any domain name other than @transunion.com. Any webmail account, like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or other web-based email, that claims to be from TransUnion, or acting on its behalf, should be ignored.
“We’ve seen a growing trend in recent years of consumers wanting to transact and take care of their finances online – and this has only accelerated through the pandemic. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we take basic precautions to stay safe, and get into good habits that help us take control of our financial futures,” said Nyaga.