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The truth about your credit report

The 12 March 2014 changes to the Privacy Act 1988 included some big changes to the way that the credit reporting system works in Australia.

This Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is focussed on ensuring that individuals know their rights in regards to credit reporting.

Some aspects of credit reporting remain the same, and some are different, but the key things to remember are:

  • You have the right to access and request corrections to the information held about you by credit reporting bodies (the organisations that track people’s credit worthiness) and credit providers (banks, mortgage brokers, telcos and energy utilities etc).
  • In some cases (home and personal loans and credit cards — but NOT phone or electricity/gas bills) if you are more than 14 days late on a bill, this information may be added to your credit report — this is your repayment history. This is NOT a default.
  • If you are more than 60 days late on a bill, this is a default and may be recorded on your credit report if the credit provider has followed a certain procedure.
  • A default cannot be recorded for an amount that is less than $150, or if you are under 18.
  • If there is incorrect information in your credit report, you can directly request a correction — you do not need to use a ‘credit repair’ business to do this and its important to know that these businesses cannot get information that is correct removed from your credit report.

What’s happening around credit reporting?

On Wednesday 7 May 2014, the OAIC released a comprehensive series of 15 privacy fact sheets titled Credit reporting 'Know your rights' that outline everything you need to know about understanding how your personal information will be collected, used and managed for your credit report.

> Know your rights credit reporting factsheets

The OAIC has registered the Privacy (Credit Related Research) Rule 2014 (made under s20M of the Privacy Act 1988). This Rule governs the use and disclosure of de-identified information by credit reporting bodies when conducting credit related research. The Rule was drafted in consultation with credit reporting bodies and other identified stakeholders.

> Read the Privacy (Credit Related Research) Rule 2014

Also on 7 May 2014, during PAW, the OAIC ran a sold-out free webinar updating external dispute resolution schemes and consumer credit legal centres on the changes to credit reporting. This will help these organisations provide better service and more information to individuals. Individuals can also ring the OAIC enquiries line for information or if they have a concern about how the information in their credit report is being handled.

The OAIC will shortly publish the slides from the presentation in the Privacy speeches section of this website.

> Visit the OAIC PAW pages for more information