Where is your credit history kept?
Many Australian's don't realise that much of their private credit information is held by private companies such as Veda and Dun and Bradstreet and shared between commercial businesses for a fee. Our personal credit rating is used by banks, credit unions, car and phone companies and alike in assessing what they refer to as 'our credit worthiness'.
This might include:
- The date a credit card or personal loan was opened and closed
- The maximum credit limit
- Whether you made the minimum payment on time.
What you don't know may be hurting you
Now this may be fine if the information is accurate. But what happens if there is an error on your credit file that you know nothing about? You may be paying a higher interest rate because of someone else's bad history. Worse yet, you may have been repeatedly refused credit for no good reason. If you've been repeatedly denied credit, perhaps it's worth looking into it further, for free.
This is especially important to people preparing for their first home loan or looking to consolidate debts.
Part of the problem is different types of information is kept on file for different periods of time.
- Information about a bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 5 years
- Information about a payment default for consumer credit such as a credit card or utility bill of more than 60 days stays on your credit report stays there for 5 years.
- Information about a delay of more than 14 days in paying your credit card, home loan or personal loan stays on your credit report stays there for 2 years.
Mistakes happen and the more information the credit reporting agencies collect the greater the chance of errors, misfiling and even identity theft.
What can you do?
The Australian consumer magazine Choice recommends we take the following 5 steps to sort out our credit.
- Order your free credit report once every year.
- Check your credit history.
- If there's a problem, contact the utility company or credit provider, or the credit reporting agency.
- Once the problem is fixed, the credit reporting agency should notify you in writing.
- If you're not satisfied with the dispute resolution scheme's decision, make a complaint to the Australian Information Commissioner.
How to order your free credit history
Credit reporting agencies are required to make free credit reports available.
Order your free credit file from:
We say if you have any problems that you're not getting resolution with, check out the government's own Smart Money website for more helpful information about your credit history file.