3 August 2017: Credit Repair

On Thursday 3 August 2017, CCLSWA’s Centre Support Officer Allison Sampson answered some questions about credit reports and warned Noongar Radio listeners about using credit repair agencies.

Below is a summary of Allison’s show:

What is listed on your credit file?

Your credit file contains information which credit providers such as banks, telcos and utility companies use to decide whether they should give you credit.

The credit history information recorded on your credit file includes:

  • Any applications you have made for credit in the last 5 years;
  • Any missed or late repayments (these are known as default listings); and
  • Current credit contracts such as your home loan and your credit cards.

How do you obtain a copy of your credit file?

You are entitled to receive one free copy of your credit file every 12 months, and may receive another free credit file if you can show that you were refused credit in the last 3 months.

The credit reporting body must provide you with your credit file within 10 business days of receiving your application. In Australia the main credit reporting agencies that provide credit reports are Dun & Bradstreet and Equifax.

For more information on how to obtain a copy of your credit file, you can check out the factsheet on our website at www.cclswa.org.au, click on the ‘advice’ tab, then click ‘credit file’ or call our telephone advice line: (08) 9221 7066.

Defaults

If you miss any repayments this will mean you are in default. Payments over 14 days late may be recorded as ‘late payments’ on your credit file. These late payments can only be recorded for consumer credit products such as credit cards, personal loans and mortgages but not for Telco or utility accounts. A default can only be recorded for a payment which is 60 days over due and over $150.

A consequence of a default listing on your credit file is that lenders may perceive you as a high-risk borrower. This can make it difficult for you to obtain loans, credit cards and even access to basic utilities such as electricity and telephone connections in the future.

If there is an error on your credit file, you have the right to get this fixed either by the credit reporting body, or by the business that has made the listing.

If you believe that a listing on your credit file is incorrect, you may dispute the listing by writing to the credit provider who made the listing. If the credit provider refuses to remove the listing or does not respond to your letter you can lodge a request with the credit reporting agency to update your credit file.

You may also contact the credit provider’s or the credit reporting agency’s free external dispute resolution scheme, such as the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Credit and Investment Ombudsman.

You may also lodge a complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner at www.oaic.gove.au or by calling 1300 363 992.

Credit Repair Agencies

Credit repair agencies advertise services offering to improve their client’s access to credit by deleting negative information from their credit file.

Some key things to remember about credit repair agencies are that they:

 

  • Charge high up-front fees for services of little value; and
  • May engage in unfair and, in some cases, predatory conduct in relation to consumers who are in financial hardship.

CCLSWA has received calls to its telephone advice line from clients who have paid credit repair agencies thousands of dollars to provide a service which they could have simply done themselves or with the assistance of a free financial counsellor, ombudsman scheme or community legal centre such as CCLSWA.

If you are seeking advice in regards to your credit file please contact CCLSWA by calling our telephone advice line: (08) 9221 7066.

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