Part IIIA of the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) regulates consumer credit reporting in Australia. Part IIIA is supported by the Privacy Regulation 2013 and the Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (CR code).
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.
For more information see Privacy codes register.
CR Code recent history
On 10 March 2022, the Australian Information Commissioner approved a variation to the Privacy the CR Code. The approved variation results in two tranches of amendments to the CR Code.
- The CR Code (v2.2) commenced on 22 April 2022 and it incorporates some minor amendments regarding access to credit information.
- On 1 July 2022, the CR Code (v2.3) will commence. This version of the CR Code addresses amendments to the Privacy Act to introduce Financial Hardship Information.
Under paragraph 24.3, the Australian Information Commissioner is required to initiative an independent review of the operation of the CR Code every 4 years.
- On 26 March 2021, the Australian Information Commissioner initiated the second independent review of the CR Code. The OAIC will release the final report in mid-2022.
- The 2017 independent review was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the report was published on 8 December 2017. Read the Review of Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (V 1.2) report.