Many people don't understand crucial credit-reference reports, which can hit their chances of getting a mortgage or other loans.
The consumer group Which? arranged for more than 80 people to see their reports from the three main credit-reference agencies – Experian, Equifax and Callcredit. However, its research discovered that many still remained in the dark about their credit status even after reading their report.
Four out of five said they had expected to see a credit "score", but a numerical figure is not provided in the £2 statutory personal reports that consumers can request to see for themselves. That's only available through subscription services.
One third thought there was too much jargon and confusing terminology used in the reports, and fewer than half said that seeing their statutory reports actually gave them a better understanding of their creditworthiness.
Gareth Shaw, money expert at Which?, said: "With millions reliant on credit to pay for essentials, and the new mortgage lending rules tightening financial checks, it's more important than ever that people can view their credit report and ensure the information held about them is accurate.
"We want to see the three credit-reference agencies do more to help people understand their report."
Reinforcing the importance of checking your credit file, a third of the research sample found a problem on their report or an entry they disputed.
If you find a mistake, you can contact the lender or agency to correct it. By law, credit reference agencies must tell you within 28 days if it has removed the entry, amended it or taken no action.