Defaults and serious credit infringements on your credit report

Both have a negative impact on your credit score, but what's the difference and how long to they stay on your file?

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Noticed a default on your credit file? Then your credit score may have taken a hit. A default is a negative credit listing that can hurt your credit score. They usually remain on your file for five years and may impact your chances of approval for a credit card of loan. But don't worry - there's ways you can build your credit score back up, or even challenge the default if you think there's been a mistake.

What is the difference?

Both defaults and serious credit infringements can lower your credit score and decrease your chances of approval when applying for future lines of credit. Find out what each term means, how they're different and how they can impact your financial history below:

What is a default?

A default refers to an overdue debt of $150 or more. It must be overdue for at least 60 days before a creditor can list it as a default. This includes overdue payments to lenders such as telco providers and credit card issuers. Defaults remain on your credit report for five years, even after you've paid the overdue amount. These are considered negative marks which could hurt your credit score and decrease your chance of approval for future lines of credit.

The credit provider must send two separate written notices to your last known address and request payment before they can list the default with a credit reporting bureau. This is why it's important to keep your contact details up to date and inform your credit issuer if they do change.

What is a serious credit infringement?

A default transitions to a serious credit infringement when you fail to pay your overdue debts and your credit provider suspects that you've left your last known address without providing your new contact details. Serious infringements are listed on your credit report if the lender has attempted contact several times and you haven't paid your overdue amount or may contact within six months.

Consumer serious credit infringements stay on your report for seven years. If you pay it, it will revert to a default and remain on your report for five years. However, the evidence of your overdue account and repayment will remain in your credit history. Serious credit infringements can also lower your credit score and send negative signals to potential lenders in the future.

How can I avoid a serious credit infringement or default?

As defaults and serious credit infringements remain on your credit report for years, it's best to avoid them in the first place. Here are some easy tips to remember to dodge a default or credit infringement:

  • Update your contact details. If you move house, log in to your online account or contact your credit issuer as soon as possible to update your account details. That way you won't miss any late payment notifications.
  • Set up automatic repayments. You can create automatic payments from your debit account to your accounts so that you never miss a payment.
  • Discuss financial hardship options. If you have overdue accounts because you're struggling to pay your bills, you can contact your credit card issuer to discuss alternative payment options. This could include extended payment periods or instalments.

What if I already have serious credit infringements? Can I improve my credit history?

If you already have a default or serious credit infringement, you can still adopt money behaviours to improve your score. This includes simple strategies including consolidating multiple debts, reducing your credit limits and making future payments on time.

If you've ordered a copy of your credit report and spotted false defaults or credit infringements, you can contact the credit reporting bureau to request that they're removed. You can also get help from a credit repair agency to have these illegitimate black marks removed from your credit history.

You can see Finder's guide to credit repair for more tips.

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Can credit providers automatically list a default at the end of the 60-day period?

No, credit providers must follow a process to have the default listed on your credit file. The credit provider must send you two separate notices to your last known address (physical or email address) before it can give a credit reporting body details regarding a default. The address the provider will use should be how it usually contacts you. Here's what you can expect from the notices:

  • The first notice. You'll be informed your payment is overdue and you'll be requested to pay the overdue amount. You'll receive this notice as soon as the default becomes overdue.
  • The second notice. You'll be informed that if you don't pay the outstanding amount the credit provider will inform a credit reporting body and have the default listed. The credit provider needs to wait 30 days after sending the first notice to send this notice.

After issuing you the second notice you'll have 14 days before the default is listed on your report.

What will be listed on your credit report?

The credit provider will list the following information on your credit file in relation to your default:

  1. The credit provider and the type of account it was
  2. The amount listed as a default
  3. The date the listing is due to come off your report

You can see an example of how defaults are listed below:

credit report default

Can a default listing on your credit report change?

Once a default is listed, the amount can't be changed to reflect recent payments or missed payments. If you miss a payment, it will be listed as a separate default.

However, the listing can be updated to show accruing interest and fees. If you pay the full defaulted amount the credit provider needs to inform the credit reporting body who will update the listing to "paid".

What if a lender can't get in contact with me about a default?

If the credit provider cannot get in contact with you at your last known address in order to get the default paid this is no longer referred to as a default. It will be listed on your file as a serious credit infringement and it will remain there for seven years. Once you pay the outstanding amount you can have the listing reverted to a default listing where it will remain on your credit file for five years.

This is why it's important to ensure that you contact your lender to update your contact information and residential address if it changes.

Can a credit provider list an old default on my report?

Credit providers need to abide by certain time regulations to have defaults and other listings legally reported on credit reports. In terms of defaults, a credit provider cannot wait more than 90 days after issuing you with the second notice to have the default listed on your credit file. If it doesn't list it within this time, it's required to send you another notice telling you it will list your default on your credit report, and then wait another 14 days to list it.

Statute barred debts are also not allowed to be listed on your credit file. These are debts that credit providers can no longer legally demand that you pay.

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18 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    DaveJuly 18, 2019

    Hi, I am coming out of bankruptcy in December and was wondering if my credit score will slowly rise from then (as I would be discharged) or would it remain flat lining until the 5 years reporting period is up. Thank You.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJuly 19, 2019

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      It’s great to know that you are about to be discharged from bankruptcy. First of all, since you entered into bankruptcy, this listing will be removed from your file 2 years from the date you’re discharged or 5 years from the date you became bankrupt, whichever is later.

      While bankruptcy can affect your score negatively, it will not make your score remain flat until 5 years is served as credit scores change all the time. Your score can still go up if you will demonstrate positive behaviors in your file such as you make on-time payments to your bills. Having no records of credit inquiries can also help lift the score.

      You can do a credit repair after bankruptcy to get your finances back on track.

      Hope this helps! For any further questions, feel free to reach out to us again, we’re here to help.


    Default Gravatar
    TracyMarch 25, 2019

    I just want people to know that if your debt is six years old it is no longer enforceable by law it is Statute Barred and should be removed. I had a default listed in 2016 for a debt incurred in 2007. This should never have been listed legally. So find out dates of any debt and especially watch the debt collection agencies. Also before you pay a default negotiate to have it removed from your file altogether with who listed you.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MaiMarch 26, 2019Staff

      Hi Tracy,

      Thank you for leaving some comments as you cross Finder’s page on defaults and serious credit infringements.

      We appreciate your feedback and additional information on the topic. Hope that you also find our article useful.

      ​Please feel free to contact us back should you require further assistance.

      Kind Regards,

    Default Gravatar
    CorrieJanuary 28, 2019

    Why is my score so low? I have one default which was two years ago and which has now been payed in full. I currently have two car loans with two different financial institutions and have never missed or been late with a payment. I also own my house outright yet somehow can’t borrow $10,000 for a personal loan as my credit report is terrible.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Default Gravatar
    MichaelNovember 12, 2018

    How is my score increased above 800?

      Default Gravatar
      JoelNovember 13, 2018

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Due to the amount of information that’s used to calculate your credit score, it’s easy to see how your score can fluctuate.

      Here’s why you might see a bump upwards in your score:

      – A negative listing is expired or old. Information is only held on your credit report for a certain length of time, so when a negative listing is removed from your credit report, your credit score should increase.
      – You changed your credit limit. Requesting or receiving an increased limit on your credit card can positively impact your credit score because you have more available credit at your fingertips. However, you might see an initial drop because of the request, but if approved your score will typically shoot back up. Credit increase requests should be limited to every two to three years.
      – Older accounts. The longer you’ve had a credit account, the better your score will be because the length of your credit history is always aging. The amount of time you’ve had your credit accounts open for represents about 15% of your credit score.
      – Diversifying your credit. When you responsibly manage different types of accounts — home loan, personal loan and credit cards — it broadens the financial diversity of your credit history and may improve your score.
      – Managing your credit. By making on time payments, paying your due balance in full each month and not irresponsibly using your credit, you’ll likely see your credit score go up — but be patient, it takes time.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)


    Default Gravatar
    monicaOctober 29, 2018

    How do I find out how much I owe

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JohnOctober 29, 2018Staff

      Hi Monica,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      If you wish to check on how much you owe, you may need to reach out to the different creditors who are reporting through your credit report. Your free credit report will provide a this list as well as the more information pertaining to your creditors. Hope this helps!


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