- Introduction to credit reporting
- Your rights
- Things to watch out for
- FAQs and other resources
- About Credit Smart
What to check on your credit report
The law requires credit reporting bodies to make sure that information on your credit report is accurate and up to date. However, errors can occur, for example, if information is not passed on when required. When you get your credit report , check the following information:
- Debts or loans – are these your debts, is the amount correct on each one, and are there any duplicates? Is the record of whether you’ve made your repayments on time accurate?
- Defaults – you may see defaults listed if any repayments were more than 60 days late. Check that these details are correct and that you received notices about the defaults before they were listed. If you have paid an overdue payment in full, check that this is reflected in the report.
- If you are listed as a ‘serious credit infringement’ (that is, you are listed as a missing debtor because the credit provider was unable to find you), double-check whether the lender could have contacted you.
You can also check that the information used to identify you is correct, such as:
- your name and date of birth
- your current and two previous addresses.
Some credit reporting bodies also offer to alert you to changes on your credit report . However, they will charge you for this service.
It’s important to check your credit report carefully because incorrect listings may affect your ability to get credit in the future. Incorrect listings can also alert you to identity theft, which occurs when someone uses your details to apply for credit. If you believe you are the victim of identity theft , you should alert the credit reporting bodies or credit provider so they can help ensure your credit report is not adversely affected.
What to do if you find an error on your credit report
You might find a listing on your credit report that you feel is incorrect. In this case, contact the credit reporting body or the credit provider who listed the information. They will investigate the matter, inform you of the outcome and if they can’t prove the listing is correct, they must change it.
For example, if a default is listed on your credit report that you believe has been paid, the lender must look into the issue and inform you and the credit reporting body of the outcome. If you are right and it has been paid, they must change the listing to ‘paid’. Paying off a defaulted debt does not remove it from your credit report ; the listing will be updated to say it is a ‘paid’ default .
Fixing an error on your credit report
In the credit reporting system, any credit provider or credit reporting body with whom you have dealt with must investigate any correction requests you make. This applies even if the information you are seeking to have corrected was not entered by the credit provider or credit reporting body you complain to. They can’t say you need to take the issue to someone else to fix.
It is also necessary for the credit provider or credit reporting body to demonstrate how the information on your credit file is correct.
Credit providers and credit reporting bodies are required to correct errors that you bring to their attention. If they do not take action following the first contact, your request can be escalated to their external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme, or to the credit reporting regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner OAIC. For financial services companies, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or Credit & Investments Ombudsman (CIO). For telecommunications companies, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Call the Energy and Water Ombudsman in your state or territory if you have concerns about utility bills.
You can also complain to these organisations if you feel your correction request was not dealt with appropriately or within the 30 day timeframe.
Removing defaults from your credit report
You can only remove a default on your credit report if it is incorrect. This could happen for example if the credit provider’s system didn’t record a payment or the debt was in dispute.
If a default listing is correct, it cannot be removed.
However, the credit reporting system enables you to show credit providers that you can manage your debts despite past issues. Your credit report may include your repayment history information for consumer credit provided by some credit providers. If you can show you are now repaying your consumer credit obligations on time, a credit provider who is permitted to see your repayment history information may take this into account when reviewing your credit application.
Be wary of ‘credit repair’ companies that will offer – for a fee – to remove a default listing from your credit report . If the listing is correct, it can’t be removed. If you think the listing may be incorrect, you can sort this out yourself.
Repayment History Information
Your credit report may record information about repayments that have been due to a credit provider . Only credit providers licensed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has list this repayment information. This information is limited to whether the payment was made in full, the due date, and (if paid more than 15 days late) the date of payment. A credit reporting body can disclose 24 months of this information to other licensed credit providers that has agreed to share the same kind of information.
Serious Credit Infringement
A serious credit infringement is considered to be more serious than a default. A serious credit infringement can be listed on your credit report if you fraudulently obtained credit, or if you stopped making payments and your credit provider couldn’t contact you over a period of six months.
A serious credit infringement may remain on your credit record for seven years, which is two years longer than a default.