If you’ve applied for a loan, signed up for a gas, electricity or phone service or been at least 60 days late paying a bill during the past five years, it’s likely that a credit reporting agency has prepared a credit report in your name.
Creditors, telcos and utility companies contact credit reporting agencies to help them decide whether to lend you money, provide you with credit or with their services. If your record reveals a poor history of debt payment, they’ll consider you a high credit risk. They may refuse you credit, or charge you higher interest.
- What’s on your credit report?
- How to get a copy of your credit report
- What to do if your credit report is not accurate
What’s on your credit report?
Your credit report contains your personal details and information about any applications you have made for credit (including mobile phones and gas and electricity accounts opened) during the past five years. It also lists information about the credit accounts you currently have open, information on whether you pay your loan or credit card repayments on time, defaults (debts you hadn’t paid 60 days after the due date), details about any court orders against you, bankruptcy, debt agreements and other types of insolvency.
Credit report information is compiled from information supplied by creditors and the courts.
Details about credit applications and defaults are kept on your file for five years. Repayment History Information (which records whether you make your loan repayments or credit card repayments on time) remain for two years. Details about serious credit infringements (which can be listed if you fail to make repayments and have not made contact with the creditor for 6 months) are kept for seven years. Information about insolvency arrangements (like bankruptcy or debt agreements) will stay on your report for up to five years after you entered the insolvency, or two years after the insolvency finished (whichever is the longer time).
How to get a copy of your credit report
You can request a free copy of your credit report from credit-reporting agencies like Veda Advantage, Dun and Bradstreet and Experian. You are entitled to one free copy every 12 months. You can also access a free copy if you apply within 90 days of having an application for credit rejected. If you request a free copy, the credit reporting agency will send you your report within 10 days, but it can be supplied in a shorter time for a fee.
Find out more about how to apply for a free copy of your credit report (Link goes to the Consumer Action website)
Sample MoneyHelp letter: Request for a copy of your credit report (MoneyHelp Letter 11)(Word 29kb)
What to do if your credit report is not accurate
If your credit report contains errors, you can contact either the credit reporting agency that provided the report, or the creditor who made the incorrect listing (or both) to request a correction. If the credit reporting agency or the creditor will not agree to amend your report, you may contact the relevant industry ombudsman service or the Privacy Commission and ask them to assist to have the report corrected.
If you have paid a debt after it has been listed as a default on your credit report, you are entitled to have the report updated and the default marked ‘paid’. The default will not be deleted from your report.