Discovering how a credit monitoring service can improve your credit and finances.
Lenders and credit providers use your credit file as a financial report card to approve or decline you for loan and credit applications, so the accuracy of your file cannot be overstated. Credit reporting bureaus offer credit monitoring services and packages that alert you to changes in your file, additions and similar features that can help you limit identity theft and ensure the accuracy of your credit file.
Find out more about credit file monitoring services, and whether they're an option you want to consider, in the guide below.
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What is a monitoring service?
Credit monitoring services are offered by credit bureaus and allow you to keep up with changes in your credit file. Mistakes in your credit file, such as errors with your name and address, incorrectly listed defaults or accounts that are not yours, can ruin your credit reputation and make credit providers consider you a bad credit risk. As you can only order your credit file for free once a year or if you've recently been denied credit, you can keep an eye on these changes with a credit monitoring service.
How do monitoring services work?
If you are a credit-active Australian, you have a credit file with a reporting agency where all your credit history and personal information is listed. Every time you apply for credit, which includes store finance and even utilities, credit providers update your file, listing any infringements or current debts you have.
Monitoring services let you stay informed of all changes in your credit file, giving you the ability to manage how lenders perceive your creditworthiness. Here is a brief look at how each credit reporting agency can help you monitor your credit file:
- Equifax Alerts. Equifax offers tiered packages with different levels of services, including monitoring services. With Equifax Access, you get Credit Alerts so you receive an email when certain changes, including credit enquiries, happen on your file. The Equifax ID package gives you Credit Alerts as well as Identity Watch, which will alert you if your details may have been compromised online.
- Tasmanian Subscriber Facilities. Tasmanian Collection Service lets its subscribers monitor all their clients by giving access to their credit information instantly. Subscribers can electronically lodge debts for recovery by the agency or view details of debts being collected or paid. This gives the subscriber better information of what is in their credit file at all times.
- Dun & Bradstreet Subscription service. This service enables your organisation monitor the ever-changing credit information of your clients so that you can minimise the risk of bad debts and defaults. Subscribers can choose to get alerts and recommendations when information on a client's credit report changes, allowing them to better assess the risk of doing business with that client.
What information is on my credit file?
- Personal information. These are details about your current address, work history, name, date of birth and your driver’s licence number.
- Default notes. Details of overdue accounts, current debts and repayments being made, missed payments and serious credit infringements.
- Credit information. This includes listings of past credit enquiries, credit cards held with different providers, any loans you've held with different lenders, utility accounts and the monthly repayment history on all current debts.
- Public record. Information held under public record including writs and judgments, bankruptcy and insolvency notes, directorship information and any debt agreements.
- Joint applicants. This section holds information about any credit accounts you jointly hold with another party.
How do I get a copy of my credit file?
You're able to order a free copy of your credit file once a year from any of the main credit reporting agencies. If you reside anywhere in Australia you can order your file from Equifax or Dun & Bradstreet, and if you reside in Tasmania you also have the option of ordering it from the Tasmanian Collection Service. You can also order your credit file if you've been rejected for credit in the previous 90 days or if you've requested a correction in your credit file.
If you order a free copy of your file you'll receive it within 10 working days, or you can pay to receive it sooner.
Why is it important to check my credit file?
Monitoring your credit file is the best way to protect your credit and identity. A good credit history means you can get credit should you need to. Since you cannot afford to stay ignorant to how you are perceived by lenders, you should proactively check your credit file once a year (this is how often you can order a free copy of your file) or subscribe to a monitoring service to be alerted to updates of your credit file. Staying up-to-date with what's on your credit file helps to:
- Protect yourself from identity theft
- Identify and order corrections for any incorrect listings
- Understand how your credit score looks and what may be affecting your credit rating
Frequently asked questions
How do monitoring services protect my identity?
Most monitoring services alert you within a day of a change being made to your credit file, allowing you to keep track of your accounts, credit enquiries and default notes. Should fraudulent listings appear, your monitoring service would immediately alert you, ensuring that you respond in time to stop the fraud.
What information will be monitored?
Subscribing to a monitoring service from one of the main credit reporting agencies in Australia means you will be notified of changes or additions to your credit file. Monitored information may include your personal details, consumer or commercial credit enquiries, court judgments or overdue accounts.