A poor credit report can affect your ability to obtain credit or get a loan. It’s important to stay on top of your credit history by checking your credit report every year.
Find out what’s in your credit report
If you’ve ever applied for credit or a loan, there will probably be a report about you with a credit reporting agency. Credit providers use the report to assess your capacity to repay a new loan or credit card, or if you seek to increase your limit on an existing loan or credit card.
You have the right to find out what’s in your credit report and correct any wrong information. You can receive a free copy once a year, if you can wait 10 days. You may have to pay if you need it faster.
ASIC’s MoneySmart website has a list of credit reporting agencies you can contact for a free copy of your report.
Do it yourself credit repair
Be sure to check that any loans or debts listed on your credit report are actually yours and check details like your name and date of birth.
If you don’t agree with what’s in your report, you can ask to have it changed. It’s free to update your report to remove incorrect listings, but your credit report can only be changed if a listing is inaccurate or out of date.
ASIC’s MoneySmart website has information about how to check and correct a wrong listing and how to contact an Ombudsman if you need help. An Ombudsman can look into whether the listing is wrong and can order the creditor to ask the credit reporting agency to remove the listing. You will not be charged for the Ombudsman’s assistance.
Credit repair agencies
Be wary of ‘credit repair’, ‘credit fix’ or ‘debt solution’ companies that claim they can improve your credit report. In most cases, default listings cannot be removed unless they are proven to be wrong.
If there is an incorrect listing on your report, and you don’t have the time to challenge the listing yourself, credit repair agents can act on your behalf. But make sure you understand what services they are offering, their fee structure, and the terms of the contract.
Credit repair agencies typically charge very high fees, as much as $1,000 to fix one listing. Large fees can be charged even if they are unable to remove a listing.
Credit report scams
Don’t search for credit reporting agencies over the internet, as you may find fake sites offering ‘free credit reports’ that are really out to scam you. To contact a credit reporting agency online, type its URL into the address bar of your web browser.
Never follow an email link offering a free credit report, or respond to an unsolicited email. It is likely to be a scam, trying to trick you into giving out your personal information.
Visit ASIC’s MoneySmart website at moneysmart.gov.au for more tips to help you make smart choices about your finances.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission