If you have ever applied for credit, it is likely that credit-related personal information about you is held by a credit reporting body. This is information about your credit history. It may be used in the future to work out if you can afford a loan, or a larger credit limit on an existing loan, and whether you are likely to repay it.
What credit-related personal information is held?
The credit-related personal information held about you is regulated by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Credit Reporting Privacy Code. These cover what is allowed to be on reports about your credit, deletion of information, access to credit information and accuracy and the security of the information held.
Permitted content includes:
- Personal details including your name, date of birth, address, employment and driver’s licence number.
- Repayment history information
- Applications for credit or loans. These listings state the date that you applied, the financial institution you applied to and the amount that you applied for. It does not state whether the application was accepted or rejected.
- Commercial credit information.
- Public information including bankruptcies, court judgments and directorships. In Western Australia, a claim is also listed on your credit information file.
- Which credit providers have requested copies of your credit report.
What is my repayment history?
Your repayment history includes:
- the date your consumer credit payments, for example, payments on a loan or credit card, were due
- if you have made or missed a consumer credit payment (including if you only made a partial payment), from December 2012. An overdue listing can be made if you are more than fourteen days overdue in payment (Note: this does not apply to overdue payments for non-consumer credit bills such as utility bills as these can only be listed as a default after 60 days), and
- the dates which you made any missed payments.
Information about any particular payment cannot be held for more than two years from the date it was due but not any payment that was due before December 2012.
How will my repayment history information affect my ability to get credit?
From 12 March 2014 credit reporting bodies can disclose your repayment history information, along with other credit-related personal information, to licenced credit providers. This information may be used by the credit providers to help work out whether you should be given credit.
What can I do if I think that my repayment history information is incorrect?
If you think that the repayment history information held about you is incorrect you should ask the credit provider or credit reporting body to correct the information. For more information see the heading below Can I dispute information held on my credit report?
What are default listings?
Before a credit provider can list a default, it must:
- Allow 60 days to pass from the date on which the payment was due; and
- Write to the debtor at their last known address and advise them of the overdue payment and request payment of the outstanding amount.
The overdue amount must be not less than $150. If the overdue payment remains unpaid, the credit provider can list a default on the credit report. A serious default is noted as a “clearout”. A clearout will generally be listed if the debtor makes no attempt to contact the credit provider to discuss the debt.
Your credit provider must not disclose an overdue payment in relation to consumer credit as default information if you have made a hardship request and either the credit provider is in the process of deciding on your request or if it is within 14 days of being notified the credit provider has refused your hardship request. However it can be listed if the basis for your hardship request is seen by your credit provider as basically the same as a previous one you have made within the previous four months.
Can anyone else list a default on my credit report?
Yes. In addition to credit providers, businesses involved in the leasing, hiring or renting of goods where a deposit has been paid and the duration of the agreement is at least seven days, for example, a video or car hire business, can also list defaults.
Businesses that provide goods and services and allow payment to be deferred for at least seven days, eg some dentists and vets do this, are also permitted to list defaults on your credit report.
How long does information stay on my report?
|Type of information
Length of time kept on credit report
| Credit applications
|| 5 years|
| Repayment history information
|| No more than 2 years from the date it was due|
|| 5 years|
|| 7 years|
| Bankruptcy Act information
|| 7 years|
| Court judgments
|| 5 years|
|| 4 years|
As long as the information in the credit report is correct, it will remain on the report, even if you have paid the debt. However, you have the right to have notes placed on the report such as "paid in full".
How can I get a copy of my credit report?
Equifax, CheckYourCredit (Dun & Bradstreet) and Experian are the largest credit reporting bodies operating in Australia. You Ccan contact them and request a copy of your credit report. They generally require that the request be made in writing. You are entitled to check your credit report for free once a year. If you need to see it quickly, there may be a charge, but if you are prepared to wait a little longer (around 10 days) it won't cost you anything.
To obtain a free copy of your credit report from Equifax, you can download a form from the Consumer Credit Legal Service (WA) website at http://cclswa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Free-Credit-File-Form.pdf. Alternatively, get it from www.mycreditfile.com.au/products-services/my-credit-file here.
To see a sample copy of a credit report on the ASIC MoneySmart website click here
Contact details for these bodies are:
Equifax (formerly Veda)
Customer Service 13 83 32
CheckYourCredit (Dun & Bradstreet)
Public Access Centre 1300 734 806
Mail: PO Box 7405, St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3004
Experian Australia Pty Ltd
Customer Service 1300 783 684
Can I dispute information held about me?
If you disagree with any of the credit-related information held about you, you can request that the credit reporting body update your file with an "Update details form" and provide it with supporting documentation. The credit reporting body will update the file or investigate the request, if warranted. There are time limits for responding to complaints.
If the file is not updated, you can make a complaint an external dispute resolution scheme or to The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). The Privacy Commissioner is able to consider disputes in relation to credit reporting and make determinations.
- Beware of credit repair companies that say they are able to rectify defaults on credit information files. There are reports of excessive fees being charged and questionable conduct.
- Keep unnecessary credit applications to a minimum. If you have multiple applications on your credit information file this may be viewed negatively on future credit applications.
- It is a good idea to check your credit report every year as it may affect your ability to get credit.
- When checking your credit report a possible problem to check for is if someone may have stolen your identity to get credit.
- Credit providers must tell you if your application has been rejected because of something in your credit report.
Where can I get more information?
- Consumer Credit Legal Service (WA) on (08) 9221 7066.
- Legal Aid WA's Infoline on 1300 650 579 for information and referral.
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) MoneySmart website under Publications has a factsheet Your credit report you can download online.
- Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on 1300 363 992, or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001. Its website has factsheets and other useful information on credit reporting.
Last reviewed: 09/04/2014