One of the objects of the Privacy Act is to facilitate an efficient credit reporting system while ensuring that the privacy of individuals is respected. In recognition of that objective, the laws about credit reporting are intended to balance individuals’ interest in protecting their personal information with the need to ensure that credit providers have sufficient information available to assist them to decide whether to provide an individual with credit. The Australian credit reporting system also helps ensure that credit providers are able to comply with their responsible lending obligations under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 administered by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
To achieve this intention, Part IIIA of the Privacy Act regulates the handling of personal information about individuals’ activities in relation to consumer credit. In particular, Part IIIA outlines:
- the types of personal information that credit providers can disclose to a credit reporting body (CRB), for the purpose of that information being included in an individual’s credit report
- what entities can handle that information, and
- the purposes for which that information may be handled.
For example, when an individual makes an application for credit to a credit provider, the provider can access a copy of the individual’s credit report from a CRB to help them to make a decision about whether or not to grant the application.
The registered CR code
The Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (CR Code) is a mandatory code that binds credit providers and CRBs. The CR code supplements the provisions contained in Part IIIA of the Privacy Act and the Privacy Regulation 2013.
Importantly, a breach of the CR code is a breach of the Privacy Act.
- Privacy fact sheets 26 to 40: Credit reporting 'know your rights' series
- FAQs — Credit reporting
- Privacy Business Resources
- Privacy (Credit Related Research) Rule 2014
Additionally, the Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) has developed an information website (CreditSmart) to help consumers understand the effects of the Privacy Act reforms on how credit reporting will operate in Australia.