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.

Curious about your credit score? Find out now for free.

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