Understanding a Credit Report

Many consumers you deal with may know little or nothing about credit reports. Here is the basic information a consumer needs to know:

A credit report is prepared by a credit reporting body at the request of a consumer, or at the request of a credit provider when a consumer applies for credit. Credit reports contain details about a consumer’s credit history and certain other information about them, including whether they are, or have been bankrupt, and court judgements against them.

Generally, when a consumer applies for credit, the credit provider may use the information in the credit report to help work out whether they can afford to repay the loan and also whether they are likely to repay it. 

Sample Credit Report

The information included in a credit report may seem confusing. To help you explain a credit report to a consumer we have created a sample report, together with explanatory notes, which you can use to understand the key features of a credit report and what information consumers should be aware of when they look at their credit report .

The following types of information are permitted to be included in a credit report (as per the Privacy Act IIIA):

  • Personal Information: such as name, date of birth, and contact information
  • Account information: information about any credit accounts you hold and which institutions they are held at.  Credit Providers are permitted to report the type of account, credit limit, date opened, date closed (if applicable) and type of account. 
  • Credit conduct information: such as your monthly repayment history as well as any defaults, credit judgements and bankruptcies

While all registered credit providers are permitted to report the majority of the credit information listed above to credit reporting bodies, only registered lenders are permitted to report repayment history information .

The following information will not appear on your credit report , nor will any other information that is not specifically permitted to be included under the Privacy Act:

  • religious or philosophical beliefs
  • health information
  • genetic information
  • racial or ethnic origins
  • political opinions
  • sexual orientation
  • membership of professional associations or trade unions
  • criminal record
  • credit account balances

 

Getting a free Credit Report - Important things to tell customers

Consumers may ask how they can get a copy of their credit report , what their rights are regarding access to their report and when they are entitled to obtain a free copy. The first key message for a consumer is that they might have credit reports with more than one credit reporting body , and each report might contain different information. Find out about the main credit reporting bodies.

When applying for credit, a consumer can ask their credit provider to tell them which credit reporting body or bodies they supply their information to.

If you work for a credit provider , you should check that you know which credit reporting bodies you deal with.

Consumers are entitled to one free credit report every year, from each credit reporting bodyClick here for a list of the major Australian credit reporting bodies and how to contact them.

They can also get another credit report without charge from the credit reporting body if they show that a request for credit has been refused in the last 3 months.

The credit reporting body must provide a free copy of the credit report within 10 days of a consumer’s request. If the consumer wants to receive their credit report quicker than this, the credit reporting body may charge them a fee. 

When a consumer wants to obtain their free credit report , they should be mindful that they will need to provide information which identifies them. This will include a driver’s licence, passport or birth certificate, as well as their address and contact details. They may also need to provide details of their current or previous employer, or organisations they have previously applied to for credit.  The purpose of this information is to confirm that the person requesting the credit report is who they say they are and is entitled to receive this information – a key privacy protection requirement.

In addition to obtaining a free copy of their credit report , consumers may also choose to subscribe to receive regular updates and access to their credit reports. This service is often available for a fee.  This has the added benefit of alerting a consumer to changes that may occur on their profile.  For example, when a credit provider does a credit check for a new credit application which may alert a consumer to potential identity fraud if they had not applied for the credit themselves.

Who are the main credit reporting bodies?

Below are the names and contact details of the main credit reporting bodies in Australia, and links to the section of their website containing information regarding their credit reports, where available:

Dun & Bradstreet (Check Your Credit)
PO Box 7405, St Kilda Road
Melbourne VIC 3004
1300 734 806
Experian Australia Credit Services
Experian Australia Credit Services
PO Box 1969
North Sydney NSW 2060
1300 784 134
Equifax
Equifax
PO Box 964
North Sydney NSW 2059
13 83 32
Tasmanian Collection Service
Tasmanian Collection Service
GPO Box 814H
Hobart TAS 7001
(03) 6213 5555

The first three credit reporting bodies listed above cover all states. Consumers who live in Tasmania should also check with the Tasmanian Collection Service.