New credit reporting changes means personal lending just got smarter
And from mid-2018, comprehensive credit reporting means your credit report will contain more information that will affect your ability to borrow money or get credit.
If you are applying for a credit card, a loan, or to buy goods or services on credit, your credit report can make or break your application.
What is a credit report?
When you apply for a loan or credit, credit providers will check your credit report. Created by a credit reporting body, this document records your credit history – from how many times you applied for credit and which loans were opened, to your history of making repayments, defaults and how much debt you have available.
Credit reporting bodies or credit providers may condense your credit report into a credit score. Your credit score compares you to other borrowers and assesses your creditworthiness to help credit providers decide who to lend to and how much to charge for interest.
Credit providers will use your credit report or credit score, any information you provide during the application process and other details to determine if they will lend to you, how much they will lend and on what terms.
Change is coming
The new credit reporting changes will provide a fuller, clearer picture of your credit history. These changes may make it easier – or for some people, harder – to get credit or a loan.
At the moment, your credit report mainly shows your ‘bad’ credit behaviour such as defaults and other credit infringements and bankruptcies. Shortly, your credit report will also include new information like your repayment history.
This is good news…
If you have been paying off your credit card and loans on time, this will count towards your credit worthiness - as you have been demonstrating your ability to responsibly manage debts. Credit providers can check if the credit you applied for is right for you. Better still, they may offer a loan with an interest rate and repayment schedule that is tailored to your unique circumstances.
…but there could be a downside for some
With a clearer picture of your financial health, credit providers are in a better position to see if you should be given credit. A poor credit history will be more obvious and you may not be approved for credit.
But all is not lost. Under the new system, if you pay off your overdue payments and continue to pay your debts on time, credit providers will be able to see that you are now managing your loans (however, defaults will continue to stay on your credit report for five years).
Making repayments on time
The new credit reporting system means it is more important than ever to make your repayments on time, as late or missed payments will show up in your credit report. If you are finding it hard to make repayments or if you have lost your source of income, contact your credit provider right away. They may be able to help you restructure your repayment obligations.
Financial counselling services and hardship assistance are also available to help you get back on top of your financial situation. Financial counsellors work in community organisations and provide advice about credit and debt issues. Financial counselling is free, independent and confidential.
Get a copy of your credit report to check your credit health and ensure there are no errors. Credit reporting bodies will give you a free copy once a year.