Michelle Toyloy-Carter, Chief Executive Officer of the Credit Information Services Credit Bureau.

Some persons may shy away from credit, but having no credit history may pose a problem, pointed out Michelle Toyloy-Carter, Chief Executive Officer of the Credit Information Services Credit Bureau.

“You are called credit invisible when you have no credit history. You may think that it is a good thing being credit invisible; but really it is not, because it makes the process a little more challenging for lenders, if you do not have any history. They have nothing to prove whether you are a good or bad performer. Therefore, even if it is a credit card, it is always good to have a presence on the credit landscape” she informed.

Mrs. Toyloy-Carter gave that advice while addressing a JN Foundation BeWi$e Financial Empowerment Webinar, which was held recently. The objectives of the webinar, which was entitled ‘Ask Me Anything About Money,’ were: to increase awareness about financial matters; assist persons to improve their money management skills; as well as, to discuss how they can navigate financial transactions using technology.

Rose Miller, Grants Manager at the JN Foundation; and Team Lead of the BeWi$e Financial Empowerment Programme, who was one of the panellists at the webinar, advised that a credit card, if used responsibly, can assist in building a person’s credit history.

“Many people are afraid to use credit cards, because they do not understand how to utilize this powerful tool to their advantage. You don’t have to be afraid to use a credit card. What you need to do is use your credit card according to how you have budgeted; and just pay the credit card bill in full, on time, every time,” she advised.

She stated that, if persons were to follow that advice, they would incur neither interest nor any other penalties such as late fees. Mrs Miller also noted that no matter how you start building credit, persons should ensure that they take steps to manage it responsibly.

“That includes paying your bills on time; staying well below your credit limit; only opening new accounts when necessary; and checking your Credit Report regularly,” she advised.

Mrs Toyloy-Carter advised there are three Credit Bureaus in Jamaica, which gather information about consumer’s credit history from a lenders’ database and help to keep both lenders and borrowers on their toes. The three bureaus are: Credit Information Services (CIS Credit Bureau), Creditinfo JamaicaCRIF Information Bureau Jamaica.

She also informed that everyone is entitled to a free Credit Report, annually from each bureau. Persons can request this report by visiting the website of each bureau that are regulated by the  Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) 

All bureaus offer online application via their website (credit.cisjamaica.com) and reports are generally available same day, or within 48 hours.

Your Credit Report will include your personal information, such as: your name, date of birth, TRN, address and employment; as well as, a credit summary of current or past due credit accounts. The summary  includes, payment history, debts accumulated, credit limits, as well as information on  bankruptcy and lawsuits if any.