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Credit File

Want to be in a better position the next time you apply for credit? Find out everything you need to know about your credit file.

Your credit file contains information lenders and other providers use to assess you when you apply for certain products and services. Your credit file contains a variety of information including personal details, credit accounts you've applied for, accounts you've defaulted on and more. It's important to understand each part of your credit file and that you also know what's on there so that the next time you apply for credit you are in the best possible position to be approved. The guide below will take you through what you need to know.

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What is a credit file?

A credit file is a collection of information obtained from credit card providers, banks, mortgage providers and utility service providers. The financial information in your file is used by lenders to assess your ability to repay debt and manage loans. Lenders and service providers look at credit files to avoid the risk of giving credit to known defaulters or people with bankruptcy or insolvency issues, or, if they are offering credit to those borrowers, they may usually charge a higher rate.

Do you qualify for credit repair?

Answer these four simple questions to find out.

1. Have you had finance rejected recently?
2. Were you seeking finance for a property or home?
3. Do you have savings/deposit?
4. Is there a possibility you have a black mark on your credit file?

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What information is in my credit report?

Your credit file contains all your financial information, including repayment history, current debt, commercial and personal loans applied for and other details to help lenders assess risk when giving you credit. Here are the details contained in a credit report:

  • Personal information. Your name and date of birth, your current address, where you work, your driver’s license details and your gender are listed in your credit file.
  • Default notes. This is information on any overdue debts you might have, payments you've missed on loans and utility bills and other serious credit infringements.
  • Information that is public record. This section will contain any information that is held in the public record including bankruptcy notes, court writs and judgments, personal insolvency agreements and directorship or proprietorship information.
  • Consumer credit information. This includes credit applications you've made in the last five years (whether they were approved or not), the type of those credit accounts, such as credit card or personal loans, account open and close dates, the credit limit of the accounts, your monthly repayment history on credit accounts and details on overdue accounts.
  • Commercial credit information. Details of credit enquiries you may have made for commercial purposes and overdue commercial credit accounts are included in this section.
  • Joint applicants. If you've applied for any loans or credit cards as a joint borrower this will be listed on your report.

How long is information held on my file?

Following the introduction of comprehensive credit reporting, both positive and negative listings are recorded by credit providers. However, it is the negative listings such as bankruptcies and overdue accounts that will be listed on your file for longer and impact your ability to access credit. Use the following as a guide for how long listings will appear on your file:

Type of listingLength of time it's listed (years)Description
Payment history information2Monthly repayment history information on active credit accounts.
Credit enquiries5Applications made to utility companies, banks or lenders for services or credit products (whether approved or not).
Overdue accounts listed as a payment default5Overdue accounts of $150 or more that is 60 days or more overdue.
Writs and summons5An invitation to appear in court to settle a debt. A writ is similar to a summons but is for a higher court.
Court judgements5Once you've been through the court process the court judgement will remain on your credit file for 5 years.
Bankruptcy information5If you enter into bankruptcy it will be removed from your file two years from the date you're discharged or five years from the date you became bankrupt, whichever is later.
Overdue accounts listed as a clearout or serious credit infringement5-7Overdue accounts in default where the credit provider hasn't been able to contact you for 6 months. Can be listed for 7 years from the time they're listed but drop back to 5 years as a default listing once it's paid.

How do I get a copy of my credit report?

It's a good idea to check your credit file for incorrect information and to ensure your credit position is where you think it is. You can order a free copy once a year or if you've been recently refused credit. You also have the option of signing up for a credit monitoring service or buying a one-off credit report.

You can get your credit file from any one of the three main credit report agencies; Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet or Experian. If you need your file sent urgently you will need to pay a fee, otherwise you can have it delivered to you for free within ten working days.

What should I check on my credit file?

When you order your credit file you should go through the following details:

  • Personal information. Ensure all of your personal details are correct. This is to limit the chance of identity theft or being rejected for credit because of a misspelt first name.
  • Incorrect defaults. Credit reporting agencies or lenders might list a default incorrectly into your file. A default could be listed twice or you could have a default listed for an account you paid on time. If you find an incorrect default talk to the credit reporting bureau first, then if that doesn't rectify it you should contact the credit provider. A full process for dealing with incorrect listings is outlined below.

How can I deal with incorrect listings?

  1. Contact the credit reporting bureau first. It may be able to remove it or contact the credit provider on your behalf to have it removed. If not;
  2. Contact the credit provider that listed it and explain why the listing is incorrect. The credit provider should have a dispute resolution team or process in place. You can also contact the Financial Ombudsmen Service or the Credit and Investments Ombudsmen. If that doesn't rectify it;
  3. Contact the Privacy Commissioner. This should be the last stop if the provider's dispute resolution scheme fails to rectify the issue. You only have 12 months from the date you became aware of the issue to file a complaint.

Frequently asked questions

I've never applied for a loan or credit card. Do I have a credit report?

Even if you have never applied for a credit product with a bank or standalone lender you may still have a credit report. If you've had a mobile phone contract or held a utility contract in your name, this is a form of credit. You may have also had interest-free store finance which is a type of credit card and listed on your credit file.

Do I have to request information be taken off my file or is it taken off automatically?

When it's time for the listing to be removed the credit reporting agency will remove it for you. If you find that the listing has not been taken off when it should have been you can get in touch with the credit reporting agency to have it removed.

Is my credit file the same with each provider?

There are different reporting bureaus and each will have access to different sources, so your credit score may be different with each one, but your credit file should remain the same. However, it's best to check your credit file with each bureau to ensure it's correct. If you live in Tasmania you should check your credit report with the Tasmanian Collection Service and Equifax. All other states should order their reports from Equifax, Dun and Bradstreet and Experian.

Can paying my bills late affect my credit file?

Yes it can. Unpaid electricity or phone bills that are overdue can be listed as defaults after 60 days, though the credit provider has to inform you of the overdue bill before adding a listing to your credit report.

If I'm refused credit does it affect my credit file?

Yes. All credit enquiries are listed on your file and any refused applications may be a red flag to lenders. Avoid making too many applications in a short space of time or you'll have a hard time being approved for credit.

Under what circumstances can you obtain a free copy of your credit file?

You can get your credit file from a credit reporting agency every 12 months or when you are denied customer credit, that is a loan or credit card in the preceding 90 days.

Picture: Shutterstock

Shirley Liu

Shirley is finder.com.au's publisher for banking and investments. She has completed a Masters in Commerce (Finance) and is the author of hundreds of articles. She is passionate about helping Aussies make an informed decision, save money and find the best deal for their needs.

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45 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    KristiSeptember 8, 2017

    Can I use my Proof of ID Card Number instead of a license, as I don’t have one.

    • Staff
      JonathanSeptember 8, 2017Staff

      Hello Kristi,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Currently, finder.com.au is only able to get your score transmitted through driver’s license details. Your alternative is to use your Medicare ID on the Equifax Australia website to get your score.

      Please take note that score generation on Equifax or Veda website may require you to subscribe in a membership plan and might entail some fees. This will be disclosed to you prior using the service.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    JimmySeptember 1, 2017

    Hi there,

    I’m trying to get my credit score and its saying license number is invalid. Its a learners permit, but its still my same license number as when I had my license. I was some how still in the system with that same number. If not can I give my passport number?

    • Staff
      JoanneSeptember 1, 2017Staff

      Hi Jimmy,

      Thank you for contacting finder.

      You need to ensure the info you are entering is as it appears on your Drivers license. Common mistakes include:
      1. Entering the card number and not the license number.
      2. Not entering the full name as it is on the license (e.g. ‘Sam’ instead of ‘Samantha’)

      We don’t have any knowledge of why an ID doesn’t get recognised, the system just says ‘yes – match’ or ‘no – no match’

      Unfortunately, we use your driver’s licence to access your score. If you have a Medicre card you can use this link to order a free copy of your credit file. https://www.finder.com.au/redirect/mycreditfile-myveda-alert-secure.html

      Hope this helps,
      Joanne

  3. Default Gravatar
    StevenAugust 29, 2017

    I have been approved for a new credit card without any trouble. My credit score shows the lowest rating despite being in full time employment with substantial savings. I find this offensive and am considering my legal options please advise correct position.

    • Staff
      MariaAugust 29, 2017Staff

      Hey Steven,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      The credit score you got from our page is your Equifax score. As we do not represent Equifax or any of the companies that we feature on our pages, it would be best to address this concern with them through their contact page.

      To understand the factors that affect your credit score you may want to request a free credit report through this page.

      If there are erroneous entries, you may request Equifax to have them removed.

      I hope this helps.

      Best,
      Maria

  4. Default Gravatar
    MelissaAugust 14, 2017

    How do I get my credit score, I don’t have a driver’s licence to enter in the id fields nd It won’t work without it, I’ve got one attempt left so pls help.

    • Staff
      MariaAugust 14, 2017Staff

      Hi Melissa,

      If you don’t have a licence, you may click here to request a free credit report from Equifax. There is an option to get a free credit report in 10 days.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers!
      Maria

  5. Default Gravatar
    NicholasAugust 7, 2017

    Hi there I recently obtained my credit file. As I knew I had out standing debt with a bank and a phone company but when I got my file they weren’t on my report anymore, it would have been over 5 to 7 yrs ago. I wanted to fix it up so I can save for a house and fix my credit. Has it been wiped clean or will it still show up that I never paid?

    • Staff
      JonathanAugust 8, 2017Staff

      Hello Nicholas,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      It’s important to note that regarding overdue debts are not removed from your credit report just because the debts will be paid. They’ll still remain on your report for five or seven years (depending upon the type of overdue debt); but your credit report will be updated to reflect that the debt is no longer overdue. In the case of serious credit infringements, if the debt is paid it will be removed provided it is more than 5 years since it was listed or it will revert back to a default and be held for a maximum of 5 years from the date it was listed.

      We urge you to contact your lender to work on a payment plan, that will help improve your credit worthiness.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  6. Default Gravatar
    PrudenceAugust 5, 2017

    Can i obtain my credit score online without a drivers license?

    • Staff
      ArnoldAugust 5, 2017Staff

      Hi Prudence,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      You can use Veda/Equifax using our Medicare ID or Passport. Please click here to be navigated to their page and please click go to site.

      Hope this information helped.

      Cheers,
      Arnold

  7. Default Gravatar
    ClaraJuly 30, 2017

    Does this qualify me for a car loan at all?

    • Staff
      RenchJuly 30, 2017Staff

      Hi Clara,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      You can check this page for helpful information on how to understand your credit score.

      On this page, you may compare car loans and motor finance.

      Cheers,
      Rench

  8. Default Gravatar
    DominikJuly 24, 2017

    Why can’t I get my credit score?

    • Staff
      RenchJuly 24, 2017Staff

      Hi Dominik,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Are you getting any error when you submit your details from our free credit score page? You can have a look on this page about why you don’t have a credit file.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Rench

  9. Default Gravatar
    ConnieJuly 20, 2017

    Why can’t I get my credit score?

    • Staff
      RenchJuly 21, 2017Staff

      Hi Connie,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      You can go to this page and fill out the form with the correct matching details from your Australian driver’s licence the click on submit. If there will be an error please don’t hesitate to message us again so we can further assist you.

      You can also find this page helpful about why you don’t have a credit file.

      Cheers,
      Rench

  10. Default Gravatar
    DIANNEJuly 17, 2017

    I requested a credit score and was told to wait 10 Calender days. So it should have come to me on the 13th July. I thought I would wait an extra couple of days.
    I now have received a get your credit rating email, but when I try to login it doesn’t recognise my login. I tried several different EMAIL’s which I use, however this is also didn’t work. I’m very disappointed as I’m was counting on knowing what the problem was before I tried to Hire more products, etc.

    • Staff
      JonathanJuly 28, 2017Staff

      Hello Dianne,

      Thank you for your inquiry today.

      You may consider getting your credit report online. We have listed on that page the fee which bureaus charge if you wish to pay the expedited process. Usually it only takes 1 day before the file will be sent to you in your email.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

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