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Credit repair in Australia

While credit repair companies exist, it's easy to fix your credit score yourself for free.

What is credit repair?

Credit repair is the process of cleaning up and correcting incorrect information on your credit report with the intention of boosting your credit score.

While credit repair companies offer to help fix your credit report for a fee, it's entirely possible to do so yourself.

Poor credit history can have a significant impact on your finances and your chance of being approved for future lines of credit. If you have bad credit or filed for bankruptcy, there's plenty of things you can do to improve your credit score without having to rely on a credit repair service.

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How do I know if I need credit repair?

Your credit file is a detailed record of your financial history and is used by lenders to judge your ability to manage loans and repayments. Your file contains your personal information as well as any details of loans and credit cards you have held.

If you have a below average credit score, chances are you'd benefit from credit repair. A low credit score means that your credit report likely includes evidence of late payments or defaults, several credit enquiries in a short period, overdue accounts, bankruptcy (including discharged bankruptcy) and other negative listings.

If you have poor credit, you'll struggle to get approved for a credit card and may be given higher interest rates when you apply for a loan.

Can I repair my credit report for free?

If you find incorrect listings on your credit report, you can try to resolve them yourself for free. If you haven't already checked your credit report, you can get your free credit report with Finder and start reviewing the listings on your report.

You should then contact the relevant credit reporting bureau that issued your report and ask them to remove the listing directly. If they refuse and you're sure that the listing is incorrect, you can contact an Ombudsman external dispute resolution service to help resolve your case.

You can also contact a free and confidential financial counselling service or call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 for assistance.

If you have valid negative listings such as bankruptcy or defaults, these can last on your report for 2 to 7 years depending on the exact listing. However, you can still improve your score by adopting some positive money habits:

  • Make timely repayments. Late payments and defaults can hurt your credit score, so it's important to make the minimum payments on time each statement period. If you're using a credit card, it's ideal to pay your balance as much as you can or in full each month to reduce your interest payments.
  • Consolidate your debts. If your credit score is low because you're struggling to pay off multiple card or loan debts because of interest costs, you can consolidate your debts into one account with a 0% balance transfer offer. These cards don't charge any interest on the transferred amount for a promotional period (which can sometimes be as long as 26 months). You can start comparing balance transfer cards and understand how they work on Finder.
  • Lower your credit limit. Your credit score is also based on how much available credit you have. If you have a large credit limit that you aren't using, you could consider lowering it. Not only will this curb any temptation to overspend, but it could have a positive impact on your credit score.

What is a credit repair service?

If you'd like help fixing your credit file, you can use a credit repair company. Credit repair services look for incorrect listings on your report that may be damaging your credit score and organise for them to be removed for a fee.

The specific fees will differ between credit repair agencies, but you are likely to pay between $500 and $1,500 dollars in total to have a listing removed from your file. You normally pay a fee for every listing you want removed.

The process may be different between different services, but it will usually include:

  1. Initial consultation. You may be offered an initial consultation to explain the credit repair process. This should be complimentary and it's to ascertain whether the process will meet your needs.
  2. Check your credit file. Following this your credit file is checked and the first fee is charged. This stage is to see if there are incorrect listings that can be removed and if there are actionable things that can be done to improve your score.
  3. Formally apply for credit repair. If you want to move forward you will need to formally apply for credit repair. You'll need to list the defaults or incorrect listings you want investigated and removed and you will need to pay a fee for each.
  4. Contacting creditors. The credit repair company, if it accepts your application, will then contact creditors to determine which defaults can be removed from your file. Some credit repair companies may negotiate a payment plan with your creditors if you still have an amount owing.
  5. Listings are removed. If successful, listings are removed from your file. You will pay a fee for each successfully removed listing.

Are credit repair companies safe?

While many credit repair services are legitimate businesses, it's worth doing your research before you approach one. You should only consider using a licensed credit repair company that is listed on ASIC's website.

More importantly, credit repair services will only be able to remove incorrect information from your credit report, and this is something you can do for free. They do not have any special methods for improving your credit score. You're simply paying for the convenience of not having to go through the process of removing invalid credit inquiries yourself.

It's also impossible to wipe or reset your credit score, so beware any service that claims to be able to do so.

How much do credit repair services cost?

You could expect to pay more than $1,000 when using a credit repair service, but this will vary between providers and may depend on the listings that need to be removed.

Generally, you will need to pay an initial consultation fee which can cost up to a few hundred dollars. There will then be a fee charged for each listing the company successful removes. This varies as well but is also a couple of hundred dollars. According to ASIC, some listings can cost as much as $1,000-$1,500 to repair.

Please note that credit repair agencies can only remove incorrect listings. Make sure you get a full list of the fees and charges before you agree to pay for the initial consultation.

What impacts the cost of credit repair?

If you decide to get assistance from a credit repair company, the following factors will impact how much you'll pay:

  • Defaults. The number of defaults you have on your credit file affect how much you have to spend. This is because credit repair companies in Australia charge a fee for each mark they remove. So, the higher the number of defaults, the higher the cost.
  • Successful negotiations. After each successful negotiation that the credit repair company carries out to remove a negative listing, you'll be charged a fee to ensure the mark is successfully removed.
  • Crossed or linked credit files. In case you're the victim of crossed or linked credit files because of how certain lenders submit credit data, you can expect a credit repair company to address this for a fee.

What are the benefits of working with a credit repair company?

If you have legitimate incorrect listings on your credit file, here are some of the potential benefits of seeking the help of a credit repair company:

  • Professional service. Credit repair companies work to repair credit reports for a living, so they know what to look for and who to get in touch with to remove incorrect, negative marks. This could prove more convenient and successful for you compared to if you were to repair it yourself.
  • Improved credit. The ultimate goal of using a credit repair agency is to improve your credit history and score. This will help increase your chances of approval when applying for loans or lines of credit in the future.
  • No need for collateral. If you apply for a loan while you have bad credit history, you may need to provide collateral to get approval. If you remove any incorrect black marks from your file, you may no longer need to meet this requirement and could receive a more competitive loan agreement.

While the costs will vary between different cardholders, credit repair does come at a cost. However, if you decide to get your credit repaired professionally, the benefits it will have on your finances will outweigh the fees in the long run.

How to compare credit repair agencies

There are a few credit repair agencies that offer their services to Australian consumers. However, in order to determine whether or not an agency is reputable, there are a few important factors you need to consider:

  • Licences. Check if the credit repair service has an ABN, which you should be able to find at the bottom of the company's website.
  • Transparency. How upfront is each company about the fees you will have to pay? Look for a company that provides the full terms and conditions before you have to hand over any money.
  • Reputation. Is the company a trusted name in the industry or does it have a reputation for being a bit dodgy? Look for a company that is respected and has an impeccable service record.
  • Customer reviews. Look at online review sites to get an idea of the experiences other people have had with agencies. This gives you a good idea of how each company treats its customers.
  • Overall cost. Look for the best combination of an affordable price and quality service.

You can watch the video below with Merrilyn Mansfield, financial advocate from Princeville Credit Advocates, to find out more about the credit repair process.

Is credit repair worth it?

The value of credit repair will depend on your situation. If you've found an incorrect listing that could remain on your report for a few years, it may be worth paying a credit repair service to have it removed. If the listing is valid, even a professional can't remove it from your report. In this case, it wouldn't be worth seeking the help of a credit repair service.

The pros and cons of credit repair services

Pros

  • Improve your credit score. Removing negative listings from your report and adopting positive repayment habits will increase your credit score.
  • Increase chances of credit approval. Lenders use your credit report and score to assess your risk as a borrower. If you remove any incorrect black marks from your credit report and increase your credit score, your chances of approval should also improve when you're applying for a credit card or loan in the future.

Cons

  • Fees and charges. If you use a credit repair agency, the credit repair process can be expensive. However, the benefits may outweigh the costs if you get your finances back in order.
  • No guarantees. There are no guarantees the credit repair company will be able to remove your negative listings. If the black marks are legitimate, you'll have to wait until the set period until they're removed from your report.

Credit repair can be a great way to improve your credit score and get your finances back on track. If you decide to get help from a credit repair agency, make sure to compare your options and weigh up the costs with the benefits before you commit.

Frequently asked questions

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15 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JennyOctober 2, 2017

    My credit score had dropped to 477. I have nothing on my credit report. The only thing is I applied through a mortgage broker for a home loan. Now my credit score has dropped by 177 ! I dont understand this ? Thanks

      Default Gravatar
      MariaOctober 3, 2017

      Hey Jenny,

      Thanks for reaching out to Finder.

      I’m sorry to hear about your credit score situation.

      Your credit report should have several details regarding your credit activities. Our guide to comprehensive credit reporting explains that.

      You may try to order your free credit report again to review if this is still the case and if it is then it would be best to seek professional or legal opinion on how to go about it.

      I hope this helps.

      Best,
      Maria

    AvatarFinder
    JhezelynAugust 19, 2017Finder

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Credit scores can be negatively impacted by multiple enquiries from potential financiers. Any credit enquiries will be listed and held on your file for 5 years and payment history information will be held for 2 years. If you’re interested, please read more about credit enquiries. On the same page, you’ll read as well how to remove credit enquiries from your credit file.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards,
    Jhezelyn

    Default Gravatar
    MegJune 24, 2017

    Hi,

    I have a credit default on my account from 2014 which is stopping me from getting credit. It was a small amount-think $300 or less and the debt has been paid and the account closed years ago. I earn approximately $100,000 and have some other debts I would like to balance transfer to a 0% card to pay off quicker but my credit rating is buggered. I want to buy a house in the coming 12 months and the black mark won’t expire until 2019. Is it worth paying the approx $2,000 I have been quoted to have the black mark removed? I know it is not a mistake, I missed the payment. Is there another way for the credit repair company to fix my credit or is it a waste of time?

      Default Gravatar
      JonathanJune 24, 2017

      Hi Meg!

      We know dealing with previous bad credit can really be stressful. :(

      Most credit repairs may not be able to remove a valid negative listing as what’s been outlined in this article. We recommend that you take a thorough background check of the agency you will passing on this task. As for applying a loan, this is where this might be a worthy shot only if you are successful in taking it off from your credit and as a result getting a cheaper repayment. Take note that your options could also be just wait until 2019, get a loan with potential higher rates but have it refinanced in the future, or get a guarantor of that sort.

      We recommend you talk to a credit expert or a mortgage specialist to have a personalized review of your situation.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

    Default Gravatar
    LizzieOJanuary 10, 2017

    I went bankrupt and 3 years later was discharged. Can I remove this from my file?

      AvatarFinder
      MayJanuary 10, 2017Finder

      Hi LizzieO,

      Thanks for your question.

      Your bankruptcy being removed from your credit file will depend on the following circumstances:

      1. Debtors petition bankrupts – if you became bankrupt by presenting your own petition, you’ll be due for discharge three years and one day after filing your petition with the AFSA.
      2. Sequestration order bankrupts – if you were made bankrupt by an order of the court, you are due for discharge three years and one day after your complete statement of affairs was accepted by the AFSA.
      3. Exceptions for all bankrupts – in some cases, bankruptcy can be extended to five or eight years if your trustee lodges an objection to your discharge.

      Please read our bankruptcy guide to learn more how bankruptcy works.

      Cheers,
      May

    Default Gravatar
    GauravJanuary 2, 2017

    Hi
    I already got one year subscription from veda and got regular updates. But in 2014 i applied for a car loan and got declined. The reason they gave me was from veda.
    I called veda and asked the reason , they told me that your credit history is absolutely ok and gave me there business number to give them to the lender and asked them to call on that number because only they are allowed to call that number. But still it didn’t went through. Again after few calls to veda they told me that my credit file is absolutely fine but the problem is that few of my details matches to another person and that’s where the problem is coming. But veda said they can’t take that file away but again gave me the same explanation that tell your lender to call us and we will tell them that it’s not your credit file(default one)
    It was so frustrating and I couldn’t got my loan approved. So I decided to withdraw.
    I have no credit defaults at all.
    All my bills and credit card repayments are on time. I don’t owe a single dollar to any bank or to any lender.
    Please help me with this as it’s really frustrating.

      AvatarFinder
      MayJanuary 2, 2017Finder

      Hi Gaurav,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Just to confirm that finder.com.au – a financial comparison website and general information service designed to help consumers make better decisions. We do not represent any lender/company we feature on our pages.

      Since the lender will surely conduct a credit check on your file, before you submit a final application for the loan, best to contact the lender first and discuss your chances of approval with them and let them know about what Veda has advised (since Veda said they will explain it to the lender once the lender will call them). I think that’s the best option for you at the moment given that Veda cannot rectify what’s in your file due to complications mentioned with someone else’s information.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      May

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