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Privacy fact sheet 31: How you can access your credit report

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May 2014

Credit reporting ‘know your rights’ series no. 6

This fact sheet is the sixth in a series that outlines what you need to know about how your personal information can be handled in the Australian consumer credit reporting system. It tells you how you can get access to your consumer credit report. There are lots of technical terms used in the credit reporting system and we refer to some of those terms in this series. You can find more information about these terms in no. 2 (Privacy fact sheet 27) of this series.

How can you get a copy of your credit report from a CRB?

You should be aware of what information is held about you in your consumer credit report. This is because credit providers will refer to that information when deciding whether to give you credit.

You can find out what personal information is contained in your consumer credit report by making a request to a credit reporting body (CRB).

To make sure you get the most accurate and up-to-date copy of your consumer credit report, you should make your request for access to a CRB.

Different CRBs may collect different information about you for inclusion in your consumer credit report. For this reason, it is a good idea to request a copy of your consumer credit report from each of the three main CRBs.

A request for access can be made:

  • via a CRBs website, or
  • by contacting the CRB directly.

For contact details and links to the websites of the three main CRBs see Privacy Topics — Credit and Finance: How do I get a copy of my credit report?

How can you get access to information about your consumer credit activities that a credit provider holds?

In some circumstances, you may wish to find out what information about your consumer credit activities a credit provider holds.

Every credit provider is required to have (and make available for free) a policy that outlines how you can access this information. This policy will usually be available on the provider’s website.

If you have made an application for credit that has been refused by a credit provider, the notice of refusal will also contain information about how you can access your consumer credit report from a CRB.

Can you access your credit report for free?

Credit reporting bodies

A CRB must give you access to your consumer credit report, including information derived from the information in that report (for example your credit score), for free once every twelve months. In addition, a CRB must also provide free access to this information in the following circumstances:

  • if you have been refused credit, within the past 90 days, or
  • if your request for access relates to a decision by a CRB or a credit provider to correct information included in your consumer credit report (for more information about how to make a correction request, please see no. 7 (Privacy fact sheet 32) in this series).

Importantly, if you access your consumer credit report for free in either of these two circumstances, that will not be counted as your free copy in that 12 month period.

When making an access request to a CRB, you may be required to provide the CRB with evidence that establishes your identity and that you have had your application for credit refused within the past 90 days.

Credit providers

A credit provider can charge you a fee for giving you access to information about your consumer credit activities that the provider holds, provided that charge is not excessive. However, a credit provider cannot impose a charge for making the request.

Whether a charge is excessive will depend on the nature of the credit provider, including the provider’s size, resources and functions (for more information about when a charge may be considered ‘excessive’, see the APP guidelines: APP 12 — access to personal information).

How long will you have to wait for access?

Credit reporting bodies

The CRB must provide you with access to your consumer credit report within a maximum of 10 days of receiving your request.

Credit providers

A credit provider must provide you with access within a reasonable period, and usually within 30 days.

What is the difference between CRBs’ free access service and their fee-based access services?

Some CRBs also offer a fee-based access service. Such fee-based services often bundle access to your consumer credit report with other services, such as online access and regular updates about information contained in your consumer credit report. Fee-based services may also offer quicker access to your consumer credit report (that is, offer to provide you with access in less than 10 days).

Before paying for access to your consumer credit report, you should consider whether the free access service offered by the CRB would meet your needs and, in particular, whether:

  • you require access in less than 10 days, and
  • you need the other services that the fee-based service provides.

What will you be given following a request for access?

Credit reporting bodies

If you make a request to a CRB for access to your consumer credit report, the CRB will give you:

  • a copy of all the personal information contained in your consumer credit report
  • your credit score, and
  • a summary and explanation of the information to help you understand the impact that your consumer credit report has on your ability to access credit.

Credit providers

If you make a request to a credit provider for access to information about your consumer credit activities that the provider holds, the provider will give you:

  • a copy of all the personal information contained in the copy of your consumer credit report that the credit provider holds
  • any assessment made by the credit provider, using the information in your consumer credit report, about your consumer creditworthiness (including a credit score, where one has been created by the credit provider), and
  • a summary and explanation of the information to help you understand the impact that your consumer credit report has on your ability to access credit.

Importantly, CRBs and credit providers are not required to provide you with detailed information about the methods used to produce your credit score, or other measures of your creditworthiness.

Can you request that your credit report be provided in a special form to meet your needs?

A CRB is required to take reasonable steps to provide you with access to your consumer credit report in a way that meets your needs and the needs of the CRB.

What happens if you are refused access to your credit report?

If a CRB or credit provider refuses your request for access, the body or provider must give you written notice of that refusal. That notice must:

  • set out the reasons for the refusal, and
  • explain that if you are not satisfied with the response, you can make a complaint to an External Dispute Resolution scheme that the credit provider or CRB is a member of, or to the OAIC (for more information about how to make a complaint see no. 8 (Privacy fact sheet 33) in this series).

For further information

telephone: 1300 363 992
email: enquiries@oaic.gov.au
write: GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
Or visit our website at www.oaic.gov.au