Woman on laptop online shopping holding credit card

Facts about credit reports & scores

Our Financial Counselling is a non-judgmental, independent, confidential and free service provided to inform, support and advocate for Deakin Students experiencing financial difficulty. Contact us to arrange a free appointment.

Credit reports and credit scores

A credit report contains information about a person’s credit history. The information is collected from credit providers, courts and other organisations by credit reporting bodies. The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) sets out what information can be put on a credit report. The Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (v 2.1) and the Privacy Regulation 2013 set out the ways this information can be listed on your credit report. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has responsibility for making sure these laws are followed.

A credit report is held by a credit reporting agency. It can be accessed by credit providers with a person's consent to find out about a person’s credit history. It is used by credit providers to assess whether they should give people a loan or provide them with a service. A credit report that is provided to credit providers will contain a ‘credit score’.

Credit scores are calculated by an algorithm that uses information from your credit report such as the amount of money you’ve borrowed, the number of credit applications you’ve made and whether you pay on time. Depending on the credit reporting agency, your score will be between zero and either 1,000 or 1,200. A higher score means the lender will consider you less risky. This could mean getting a better deal and saving money and a lower score may affect your ability to get a loan or credit. Every credit reporting agency uses different algorithms, so it’s not always clear how credit scores are calculated.

Who can access credit reports?
  • Credit providers
  • Credit reporting bodies
  • A debt collector acting as an agent for a credit provider
  • Mortgage insurers
  • Trade insurers
Who is not allowed to access a credit report?
  • real-estate agents
  • landlords
  • employers
  • insurance companies other than mortgage insurers and trade insurers
  • foreign credit providers or foreign Credit Reporting Bodies (CRBs).
What information can go on a credit report?
  • personal information
  • information requests
  • consumer credit liability information
  • default information
  • payment information
  • new payment arrangement information
  • repayment history information
  • Court judgements that relate to credit provided to or applied for by the individual
  • personal insolvency information (such as bankruptcy, debt agreement proposals, debt agreements)
  • publicly available information about the individual that relates to their activities in Australia and the individuals credit worthiness
  • serious credit infringements
Default information
  • A credit provider cannot list defaults while considering hardship requests
  • At least $150 must be owed
  • Must be 60 days overdue
  • Must not be statute barred
  • Credit provider must give 30 days’ written notice about the overdue payment to the debtor
  • Must give further 14 days notice before listing the default
  • Notices can be sent to last known address and/or can be sent by email
How long can information stay on a credit report?

It depends;
Defaults → 5 years from the date the credit reporting body collects the information Payment information → 5 years from the date the credit reporting body collects the default information
- New arrangement information →
2 years from the date of the default listing the arrangement relates to
- Serious credit infringements →
7 years from the date the credit reporting body collects the information
- Consumer credit liability information →
2 years from the date of termination of the consumer credit
- Repayment history information →
2 years from the date the payment was due
- Court judgments →
5 years from the date of judgment
- Part IX Debt agreements →
5 years from the date of the debt agreement, or 2 years from the date the debt agreement is terminated or declared void, or when the debt agreement is completed – whichever is the longer.
- Bankruptcy →
5 years from the date of the bankruptcy or 2 years from the date the bankruptcy ends, whichever is the longer.

To obtain a free copy of your credit report;

You have a right to get a copy of your credit report for free every 3 months. It's worth getting a copy at least once a year. Usually, you can access your report online within a day or two. Or you could have to wait up to 10 days to get your report by email or mail.

Contact these credit reporting agencies for your free credit report:

Experian 1300 783 684
illion 132 333
Equifax 138 332

Since different agencies can hold different information, you may have a credit report with more than one agency. Some credit reporting agencies may provide your credit score for free — check with them directly.

BEWARE – when you provide them with your current contact details, that information will be updated and debt collectors or creditors may contact you.

Alternatively, you can get your credit score for free from an online credit score provider, such as Credit Simple, Finder or Canstar (and many more). This usually only takes a few minutes.

BEWARE - typically, you agree to their privacy policy when you sign up, which lets them use your personal information for marketing. You can opt out of this after you sign up.

Avoid any provider that asks you to pay or give them your credit card details.

Find out how to correct information on your credit report on the National Debt Helpline website.

How can a financial counsellor help?

Financial Counsellors help people who are experiencing financial difficulty. They are skilled professionals who will guide you through your options and help you plan your way out of debt. They may be able to assist you by:

  • Doing a full assessment of your financial situation, including regular income and expenditure, assets and
    liabilities, to help you fully understand your position, create a budget and put a plan into place
  • Providing advice on how to negotiate with your creditors, government agencies or other providers
  • Negotiating directly with your creditors in certain circumstances
  • Providing advice about what options, rights and responsibilities you may have
  • Referring you to other services you may need, such as legal services, crisis food and accommodation
    services, and health services
What can a financial counsellor provide information about?

They can provide information and advice about:

  • Credit and debt-related matters
  • The rights of debtors
  • How to lodge complaints with various ombudsman schemes if you feel you are not being treated fairly and
    whether you should have been given a loan in the first place
  • Working out a realistic payment plan for debts
  • How to access other specialist support services, including gambling, family support, personal counselling,
    legal aid and emergency relief

It’s then up to you to make the decisions about how to manage your situation with the advice you’ve been given.

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