In Finance Education

In March last year, an amendment was made to the Privacy Act 1988, which allowed regulation reforms to be applied to the way credit-related personal information can be collected about you by lenders. The new system is known as ‘Comprehensive Credit Reporting’ and has brought Australia in line with the rest of the world regarding the way consumers are assessed by lenders when applying for credit and home loans.

The new rules have now been in effect for over a year, and most lenders are using Comprehensive Credit Reporting as part of their day to day operations when assessing you for a loan. This article looks at how Comprehensive Credit Reporting affects you and your capacity to borrow.

How have things changed?

Previously, lenders were only allowed to access negative information about your credit history. By ‘negative’ we mean that they were only able to access information that indicated if you had any major credit infringements, credit payment defaults, bankruptcy situations and declined applications for credit. This information did not give lenders a very good picture about your current financial situation and was only of limited use when making assessments on major credit applications like home loans.

Comprehensive Credit Reporting is designed to give lenders enough information about you to assess if you can afford to take on more debt and how much you can afford to repay. Lenders now have access to more data about you more often, which gives them a better picture of your current personal financial situation.

Information that credit providers can collect about you now includes account information including when an account was opened and closed, your credit limits on credit cards and loans, the type of credit accounts you hold (such as credit card or personal loan), as well as 24 months repayment history on any credit accounts you hold. They can also check on your overdue debts and payment defaults, the number of recent credit applications you have made recently and any publicly available information such as personal insolvency information, court writs, court judgements and directorship information.

What does this mean for you?

The new Comprehensive Credit Reporting system gives you more power to demonstrate your creditworthiness to mortgage lenders and other credit providers. It allows your recent good credit behavior to be taken into consideration and any adverse financial events to be overcome more quickly. It is also faster and easier for you to establish a credit history and compile a Credit Report.

On the downside, it is more important than ever before that you pay your bills on time. It is also important that you avoid making multiple credit applications before you decide on your credit provider as these will show up as minor defaults. If you’re not careful, you could accumulate a lot of minor defaults that could add up to make it appear as though you are under financial stress – and that may make it more difficult for you to get a home loan approved or make you ineligible for the lowest interest rates.

Make sure your Credit Report is accurate

Your Credit Report is compiled by a credit agency and is made available to lenders when you apply for a loan. Understanding your Credit Report and making sure it is correct can help to ensure your loan application goes smoothly.

Lenders will use your Credit Report to assess risk before they decide to give you a loan. We recommend that you obtain a copy of your Credit Report and make sure that is completely accurate. You can download a copy of your Credit Report once every 12 months for free from a variety of different credit reporting agencies – we recommend Veda or Dun & Bradstreet.

Once you have your Credit Report, you can address any negative information that should not be on there and take action to have it removed. Occasionally, your Credit Report can contain information that is very old, untrue or contain fraudulent entries that simply belong to someone else – so it pays to give it careful attention before you apply for any loans.

If you obtain your Credit Report and discover you have a low credit score, you can improve the situation over time with the right behavior:

  • Take action to remove any incorrect entries.
  • Always pay your bills on time or before the due date.
  • Pay down your existing debts.
  • Keep unused bank accounts open.
  • Reduce your credit limits – cancel any credit cards you don’t need.
  • Don’t make multiple applications when you are shopping for credit – talk to us about choosing the correct provider before you submit any loan applications.

Comprehensive Credit Reporting is good for Australian consumers as it helps lenders to be fair when assessing you for a loan. If you would like to discuss your Credit Report with us, we’re happy to help. Remember, we’re here to help you get the best deal available for your personal financial situation and goals for your mortgage and other financing requirements, and your Credit Report is an important part of the application process. Please give us a call today for a chat.

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