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28 September 2011

• It takes the average Briton 119 seconds to form a first impression
• The first impression lenders get could make all the difference

They say first impressions are the most important. That has never been truer, as new research from Experian CreditExpert – the UK’s most trusted credit monitoring service – reveals just how quickly we form opinions.

The research underlines the importance of making a good first impression, on and offline. More than eight in 10 Britons (84 per cent) judge on first impressions – and one in 10 (nine per cent) refuses to change their mind once they have formed one. In fact, CreditExpert’s research shows that it takes the average Brit just under two minutes to form a first impression about someone.

Yet despite many Britons’ judgemental nature, nearly a third of us (29 per cent) feel we have been unfairly treated based on a bad first impression.

Borrowers can give themselves the best chance of making a good first impression in advance, by actively managing their credit report to help develop a good credit score.

And although consumers turned down for credit may have a second chance to make a positive impression, by then taking steps to improve their credit score, multiple applications can affect their chances of making a good impression in the immediate future.

Peter Turner, Managing Director of Experian Interactive, said: “First impressions count - and that is why it’s important to manage your credit report on an on-going basis, to ensure that you make the best first impression on lenders so they can see that you are someone to whom they would lend. Although you only get one chance to make a first impression, you do get a second chance to improve your credit score to help ensure you’re in the best possible position to be accepted next time around.”

How to ensure your credit report helps you make the best first impression:

1. Review your credit report regularly – at least once a month and especially before applying for new credit.
2. Make all regular payments, such as credit cards and mobile phone bills, on time. Any missed or late payments are likely to be registered on your report.
3. Register on the Electoral Roll at your current address. Creditors use it to confirm your name and address. If you are not on the Electoral Roll it might cause delay or even cause some creditors to turn down your application.
4. Make sure that all of the information on your credit report is accurate and up to date. If you spot a discrepancy, alert the lender immediately.
5. Removed financial links to people on your credit report which are no longer correct, such as if you are divorced or separated but a former partner is still shown.
6. If there are special circumstances surrounding past credit problems, such as unemployment, explain this by adding a notice of correction to your credit report.
7. Close any accounts you no longer use. A large amount of unused credit can affect your credit score, and keeping accounts open you don’t use can make you vulnerable to fraud.
8. Don't apply for lots of cards, loans or other credit products at once, as it could damage your credit record. Try to spread out your applications and investigate any refusal before applying elsewhere.
9. If you’re struggling with your existing credit commitments, applying for further credit is unlikely to help. Seek advice by contacting Citizen’s Advice, National Debtline or the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.

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