What you should know about credit reporting bureaus
A credit bureau can help you get a copy of your credit report, check your credit score or resolve any incorrect listings on your file.
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Credit bureaus collect and distribute credit history data. You can contact a credit bureau, such as Experian or Equifax, to get a copy of your credit report and score. Lenders also get reports and scores from these bureaus when assessing your application when you apply for a credit card or loan. You can use this guide to understand the services provided by credit bureaus, compare your options in Australia and order a free copy of your credit report.
What is a credit bureau?
A credit bureau is a body that collects, holds and distributes data from credit providers that pertain to a borrower's financial history. This information forms your credit report. Each of the credit reporting agencies operating in Australia has to send you a free copy of your credit file within 10 days if you haven't ordered a copy in the previous 12 months. You can also get a free copy of your Experian credit report and credit score through Finder.
If you order a copy of your credit report and identify incorrect information (such as false defaults or repayment information), you can also contact the credit bureau that issued your report to have these issues resolved. This is important to check and action as any incorrect, negative listings on your account could hurt your credit report and reduce your chances of approval when applying for future lines of credit.
How do credit reporting bureaus receive my information?
Any credit providers that you apply for an account with, such as a utility account, mobile phone contract, personal loan or credit card, will send this information to credit reporting agencies so it can be noted on your file. Even if you're not approved for the account it will be listed. Other public information such as court listings and bankruptcy information is also included in your report.
What credit bureaus operate in Australia?
There are three different credit reporting agencies operating in Australia:
- Experian. This data-focused credit agency lets you order a free copy of your credit report. It also lets credit providers make more accurate credit decisions through data sharing. When you order your credit report and credit score for free through Finder, the information will be delivered by Experian. Find out more about your Experian credit score.
- Equifax. This is the largest credit reporting agency in Australia and provides personal and business credit reports country-wide. You can order a free copy of your report in 10 days if you haven't ordered one in the previous year, or you can sign up for a Equifax package to have your credit file in 24 hours. Credit alert services are also available.
- illion (formerly Dun & Bradstreet). You can also contact illion to check your personal credit reports. It also offers debt recovery services and provides a business credit check service where you can verify the credit and financial stability of a business.
Are there any differences between credit reporting bureaus?
Each bureau receives information from credit providers and various public sources. However, as all of these sources are not the same you'll find that your credit report may be different if you order from each of the agencies. If you find any information that is incorrect on your credit file it's important to get in contact with the credit bureau first. If it cannot be rectified then you can contact the credit provider, and if the provider can't have the error cleared, you can get in contact with the Privacy Commissioner.
You may also find that your credit score is different depending on which reporting agency you go with. For example, Experian's excellent credit band is between 800 and 1,000 and Equifax is between 833 and 1,200.
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