Discover your credit position and find out how to understand it with the finder.com.au credit check guide.
If you've ever applied for a loan or credit card, or even had a mobile phone or utility contract, you're likely to have a credit file. This is the report that lenders use to judge your ability to manage loans and repay them on time. By checking your credit file and credit score you can keep an eye on your own credit position and see how likely it is that you may be approved for your next loan or credit card.
This guide will take you through what you need to know about your credit file and credit score and what options you have to get your file and monitor it.
How can I get my credit file?
Your credit file can be accessed in a number of ways:
- For free. You can order your credit file once a year for free from one of the credit bureaus (Equifax and Experian for everyone across Australia and also the Tasmanian Collection Service for Tasmanians or Dun and Bradstreet for those in other states). You can also order it if you've been rejected for credit in the previous 90 days. The report is delivered to you within 10 days.
- By paying a fee. Credit reporting bodies such as Equifax, Experian Tasmanian Collection Service and Dun and Bradstreet also offer credit monitoring services and other packages that can have your credit file and credit score delivered to you more regularly. For Equifax, the packages start at $79.95.
Your credit score is generated by the credit bureau that holds your credit file and it gives lenders an additional way to understand your credit behaviour. Your Equifax Score, from Australia's largest credit reporting bureau Equifax, is a number between 0 and 1200. The higher your number is, the better your credit position is. Learn more about your credit score here.
What's in my credit report?
Your credit file contains your credit history, including any loan applications you've made – whether successful or not – personal information and your repayment details. Here's a quick breakdown of the information you'll find on there:
- Personal information such as your name, address, where you work, your gender and your driver's licence details.
- Details of your consumer credit accounts. This includes any applications made in the last five years, the type of accounts they were, the date those accounts were opened and closed, their credit limits, monthly repayment histories and any details of overdue accounts.
- Information regarding commercial credit, which includes credit enquiries and overdue credit accounts.
- If you're listed on a loan as a joint applicant, this will be on your credit file.
- Information on the public record such as bankruptcy notes, court writs and judgements, personal insolvency agreements and directorship or proprietorship information.
- If you have overdue debts or have missed payments on loans or utility bills or have any serious credit infringements it will be listed on your file.
Will my credit file be the same with each bureau?
Credit reporting bureaus access different sources of information, so not all credit reports will be the same. Equifax is generally thought to provide the most completed view of your credit history in Australia, but you can order your file from the different credit bureaus to get a complete view of your credit history and ensure no incorrect information is listed.
Why is it important to check my credit report?
- Limits risk of identity theft. By monitoring your credit file you can look out for instances of identity theft. People with your personal or financial information can apply for loans or credit cards in your name and damage your credit, but by checking your credit file regularly you can check for any irregularities and report these to your credit bureau, the financial service provider or the police.
- Limits risk if incorrect negative listings. Sometimes, listings are mistakenly put on credit reports by financial providers. This may be an entire listing that is not yours, such as a default, or a listing that appears twice. By checking your file regularly you have the chance to fix it.
- You have the chance to improve your credit standing. By being aware of what's in your report you can work to improve it. For example, if you consolidate two credit cards and a personal loan by taking out a new loan your credit score may drop as you're seen as a higher risk. However, by closing one of the cards you're no longer using your credit position and credit score may improve because you have less available credit. By using a credit monitoring service you can monitor these changes.
How can you repair your credit?
There are two ways to repair your credit; by monitoring your own credit position and working to improve it; or by enlisting the services of a credit repair company.
- DIY credit repair. By ordering a copy of your credit file you can identify the negative parts of it and therefore improve it. First, read our guide on your credit file so you understand it and then you can work to improve it yourself.
- Credit repair companies. If you have a negative listing on your file that was put there incorrectly, or you believe it was, you can pay a fee to have the listing investigated and then removed. Keep in mind that while this service is available it can be costly, so consider what the possibility is of having this listing removed (is the listing correct?) and how long until the until the listing comes off by itself.
Have more questions about checking your credit?
If I don't accept a loan offer does it get listed on my credit file?
Credit enquiries are listed on your credit file, so even if you don't accept a loan that you are approved for it will be listed on your credit file.
Is it okay to make multiple loan applications?
Making too many loan applications in a short space of time can look bad on your credit file and lower your credit score. This is because you're seen as a higher risk to lenders and it can make it more difficult to access credit.
Will my credit score be the same with each provider?
Each credit bureau has their own credit score, for example, Equifax has the Equifax Score, so your score will not be the same with each one.
How often can I access my credit file?
You can order a free copy of your credit file once a year or up to 90 days after you have a credit application rejected. However, you can pay to receive your credit file multiple times a year from credit bureaus or purchase a package or credit monitoring service to keep an eye on your credit file.
What do I need to provide to get my credit file?
You will need to provide your personal information and identification documents, such as your driver's licence, to prove your identity.