What is a Credit File?
Most consumers who have entered into a loan in the past will have a credit file. This contains information which can be used by credit providers to assist them in assessing applications for credit. The credit file can also be used by debt collectors to locate a missing debtor.
This information can include:
- Personal details;
- Credit accounts held;
- Arrears (unpaid debts) brought up to date;
- Defaults/credit infringements;
- Credit applications;
- Repayment history.
Your credit file may contain negative information such as default listings and public record information (such as a judgment or writ of summons), which may affect your ability to get credit.
A credit provider can only list a default on your credit file if:
- the default amount is $150 or more
- you’re a ‘confirmed missing debtor’/’clear-out’ meaning your creditor can’t contact you, or
- 60 days have passed since the debt was due and the creditor has asked you to pay the debt either in person or writing.
The credit provider must notify you that they may lodge a report about the overdue payment before they do so.
A credit default listing will remain on your report for 5 years (or 7 years in the case of bankruptcy or serious credit infringements). Even if you have made payments, the listing will remain on your credit file but it will be updated to show these payments.
As of 2014 your credit file may include a 24 month history of all repayments made under a credit contract. When the outstanding payment has been paid off; a credit provider can state the listing as ‘paid in full’.
Disputing a Listing
When disputing a listing you should first contact the credit provider’s internal dispute resolution (IDR) department directly. If you are not happy with the response further options include:
If default listing was made prior to 12 March 2014: A dispute can be lodged with one of the credit reporting bodies that will assess the validity of the listing. Complaints can also be made to Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)
If the listing was made after 12 March 2014: All credit reporting bodies must be members of a recognised external dispute resolution scheme. If the dispute with the credit provider is unresolved a further dispute can be made to either the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or to the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) depending on which scheme the credit reporting body is a member of.
If you believe a business has breached your consumer rights, or would like further advice please contact our telephone advice line for legal advice on (08) 9221 7066 Mondays – Fridays (except public holidays) between 9am – 4pm.