What you should know about credit reporting bureaus

Elizabeth Barry 19 July 2016

credit reporting

Credit bureaus hold the key to your financial history. Find out everything you need to know about them before you order your credit file.

Your financial stability plays a huge part in determining whether or not you're approved for a loan or credit card application. While lenders use the information you provide in your application to determine this, they also use your credit file. This document is a detailed record of your applications for credit, repayment history and other borrower behaviour, and is held by credit reporting bureaus (CRB). Find out more about these bureaus and the role they play in your credit journey in this guide.

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 history. This forms your credit file. 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.

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. If you are approved for the account, information such as the account open and close date, repayment information and any default listings will be included. Other publically accessible information such as court listings and bankruptcy information is also included on your report.

It's important to note that unless you have held or applied for a credit account in Australia you will not have a credit report.

Information that is included in your credit file

What credit bureaus operate in Australia?

There are four different credit reporting agencies operating in Australia:

  • 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.
  • Experian. This data-focused credit agency lets you order a free copy of your credit file. It also lets credit providers make more accurate credit decisions through data sharing. When you order a credit file through Experian you also receive your Experian credit score.
  • Dun & Bradstreet. Dun & Bradstreet lets consumers check their personal credit reports. It also offers debt recovery services and provides a business credit check service whereby you can verify the credit and financial stability of a business.
  • Tasmanian Collection Service. Residents of Tasmania can order their credit reports from the Tasmanian Collection Service. This credit reporting bureau offers credit reporting and debt collection services.

Are there any differences between credit reporting bureaus?

Each CRB 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 file 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.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    markOctober 21, 2017

    Hi, I had a yahoo email account which has been breached. I’ve asked two of the credit agencies for my annual free report. This will show me if someone has applied for credit using my name?

    Would you suggest doing the annual report each quarter, ie. use one of the three agencies each quarter to help quard against the above?

    Can I assume all three agencies collect the same information?
    thanks

    • Staff
      JoanneOctober 21, 2017Staff

      Hi Mark,

      Hi

      Thanks for reaching out.

      One of the factors being looked at when your score is calculated is credit enquiries. Every time you apply for a loan, credit card or even interest-free finance it will be listed on your credit file. If you have multiple loan applications in a short space of time it could hurt your credit score. So if someone has been making loan applications under your name, that would show on the change of your credit score. That would also mean requesting for your credit score regularly would be helpful in monitoring your security or in protecting your information from fraud.

      By getting a copy of your credit report, this will allow you to contact credit report agencies and inform them of the identity theft so that they can help repair your credit standings by adding notes to your credit file.

      Equifax collects certain information to calculate your credit score and Experian, another credit agency, collects information separately. Because of this your score may be different. Your Equifax Score is a number between 0 and 1200 and your Experian score will be a number between 0 and 1000.

      Cheers,
      Joanne

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