.How to get your free credit report
Updated 10 April: After campaigning from CHOICE, other consumer advocates and the media, Federal Attorney General George Brandis relented and asked the Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) to apply for an extension of the grace period. Following this, the Australian Information Commissioner has now amended the Code. CHOICE welcomes the longer grace period but warns consumers to keep track of their credit reporting information especially if they are planning to apply for credit in the near future. It’s easy enough to forget a payment, for example, when you’re on holiday.
Until now, paying off your credit card a week late wouldn’t have affected your credit rating. But that’s about to change. A new credit reporting regime which began on 12 March this year means credit card or personal loan payments made more than five days late will leave a black mark on your credit rating.
Before the change, only a string of missed payments that amounted to a default would go on your credit report.
This black mark could mean you’ll be charged a higher interest rate next time you apply for credit.
The new payment history information on your credit report will cover:
- credit cards
- car finance (car loans)
- home loans
- personal loans
- store finance offers
- other types of consumer credit.
59% of Australians don’t understand how credit reporting works.
Late payments for utility bills such as electricity or phone will still only appear on your credit rating if you’re 60 days or more late making the payment.
Your bank, credit union or other financial institutions can easily do a credit check when assessing an application for a credit card or home loan.
If these changes come as a shock to you, you’re not alone. According to the Australian Retail Credit Association, 59% of Australians don’t understand how credit reporting works, let alone being aware of these major changes.
Do a credit check and protect your credit rating
When you need a home loan, personal loan or car finance you need it now, and a bad credit rating because of a mistake on your credit file can mean a delay of a few weeks or months.
That’s why it’s a good idea to order your credit report regularly to make sure everything is up-to-date and your credit rating is not affected by incorrect information. See how you can correct a mistake on your credit report.
Your credit history is held by private credit reporting agencies such as Veda and Dun and Bradstreet. The agencies don't make it easy but you can do a credit check for free every 12 months.
These agencies also offer paid express credit ratings and other options, such as a credit alert or credit score. The paid services are advertised prominently on their websites, while the link to the free credit report is hidden.
- You'll need to order your credit file from each of the three national credit reporting agencies: Veda, Dun and Bradstreet and Experian (as well as the Tasmanian Collection Service if you live in Tasmania).
- These agencies also offer paid express credit ratings and other options, such as a credit alert or credit score. The paid services are advertised prominently on their websites, while the link to the free credit report is hidden. Use our buttons below to go straight to the right page. Many people have paid for their credit file unnecessarily: 43% of the respondents to a survey by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner who had accessed their credit report had paid for it.
Veda and Dun and Bradstreet on notice
Credit reporting agencies, especially Veda and Dun and Bradstreet, are on notice to do a better job. “One of the things we will be doing after the commencement of the [new credit reporting regime] is an assessment on how those types of organisation are meeting their requirements” says Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim.
CHOICE will be watching.
How to order your free credit report
Credit reporting agencies are required to make free credit reports available, but they don't always make this service easy to find. Click on the buttons below to order your credit history from Dun and Bradstreet, Experian and Veda. Tasmanian Collection Service (TCS) is for Tasmanian residents only.*
*Please note: when using the form accessed via the TCS button, you'll need to send the free credit report application to the following address along with a copy of acceptable photo identification: The Manager, Tasmanian Collection Service, GPO Box 814H, Hobart TAS 7001.