Credit Reports

Information you need to know about credit reports, including free credit reports

A credit report is a record of your credit history. It may include information on applications for credit that you have made in the past as well as information relating to your history of repaying credit card debts, personal loans and mortgages. Your Credit Report may also include publicly available information, such as court writs and judgements related to bankruptcies, personal insolvencies and debt agreements.

Credit reports are available to all consumers who have a credit history. These reports are built using information provided by credit providers as well as public record information.

You can get a copy of your Free Credit Report here or you may consider our monthly subscriptions which include Credit Scores and Alerts. 

They are essentially the same thing. Your Credit File is information about your credit activity that is held by a credit reporting body (such as Equifax). When you ask to see your Credit File, the document that is sent to you is usually referred to as a credit report. To put it another way, your Credit Report is an extract of the information held on your Credit File.

In your Credit Report you will find information about your history with credit. Your Credit Report is divided into a number of sections:

1. Personal information / identity details
This includes information like your name, date of birth and names you may be also known as. It also includes your driver’s licence number, as well as a list of places you have worked and addresses where you have lived or operated a business from.

2. Consumer credit information
The consumer credit information section includes:

Details of credit enquiries that have been made on you by a credit provider when you have made an application for consumer credit. Consumer credit relates to loans for household or family purposes as well as for the purchase, renovation or re-financing of a residential investment property. Well-known types of credit include credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, car loans and credit contracts. (Credit contracts are typically used by businesses – such as utility providers and telecommunications companies – that provide a good or service upfront and get paid for it at a later date.) The ‘buy now pay later’ store finance and store cards many retailers offer are also a type of credit.

Consumer credit liability accounts – this may be an account that you currently have open or have had open in the past. Your Credit Report may include information about the type of consumer credit liability account you had or have, as well as its credit limit and open and/or close date. Please note that not all credit providers supply consumer credit liability information to credit reporting bodies (such as Equifax).

Monthly repayment history on credit accounts such as mortgages, personal loans and credit cards. This reflects whether you have paid the minimum amount required on time each month or not. Please note that not all credit providers supply repayment history information to credit reporting bodies (such as Equifax).

Overdue accounts such as defaults and serious credit infringements.

Public record information like:

  • Court judgements

  • Directorship details

  • Proprietorship details

  • Bankruptcy, debt agreement and personal insolvency

 

3. Commercial credit information
This is information about credit enquiries that have been made on you for commercial credit. Common types of commercial credit are a work-mobile-phone contract, business loan and business credit card. It also includes details of any overdue commercial credit accounts and other debts.

4. File access information
This is information about third parties that have accessed your Credit Report. These third parties may include brokers, credit repair agencies and Equifax. (For instance, if you request a copy of your Credit Report from Equifax, the fact that Equifax has accessed your Credit File in order to provide your Credit Report will be noted.)

 

Get a copy of yoru Free Credit Report here or consider our monthly subscriptions which include Credit Scores and Alerts.

Once you have received a copy of your Equifax credit report it is important to review it carefully to make sure everything is correct. Below is a guide on what to look out for.

1. Personal/identity information – make sure that your name and personal details are correct. The address details will show the address you were living at when you last applied for credit, which may not be your current address. Please let Equifax know if your address is wrong or your name is misspelled or your date of birth is incorrect.

2. Your Equifax Credit Report contains a credit overview, which is a good place to start. This section gives you a snapshot of the number of credit enquiries made on you, any accounts – including overdue ones – you have and details of commercial credit you may have. (You can review the information in the credit overview in the main body of your Credit Report.) You should check that the credit information listed on your Equifax Credit Report is accurate.

3. If you come across anything that is inaccurate while reviewing your Equifax Credit Report, it is important that you have it investigated. (This is will be done at no cost to you). You can either contact the credit provider by referring to the a list creditor contacts here or contact Equifax using our corrections process.

Equifax takes reasonable steps to ensure that your credit report is accurate. However, as we rely on information provided by a number of different sources, errors can occasionally occur.

Learn more: CreditSmart provides some information about what to check in your credit report.

If you have applied for credit under more than one name (e.g. you have changed your name by Deed Poll or after you got married) there will probably be more than one credit file (aka credit report) for you on Equifax’s database. In these cases, Equifax keeps two separate files but creates a link between them. When you request a copy of your Equifax Credit Report you will also be provided with the credit reports in the other names that, to Equifax’s knowledge, you are “also known as”.

 

If you change your name, you’ll probably end up with two credit files (aka credit feports) – one in your old name and one in your new name. This is rarely a cause for concern, as Equifax has processes in place to link different credit files for the same individual. If you ask Equifax for your Credit Report, you will receive copies of the credit reports in your old and new names.

A credit enquiry may be added to your Credit Report when a lender conducts a credit check on you as part of an application for credit. It is listed on your Credit Report as a 'credit enquiry'.

A credit enquiry may include the date, the type of credit you have applied for (a personal loan, credit card, mortgage or phone contract), whether you are a sole or joint borrower (including acting as a guarantor for another loan), as well as the amount.

See below for an example of how a credit enquiry works in the real world.

David is buying a new car and he applies for a car loan with ABC Car Finance. David completes his application form and as part of the assessment on whether to accept his application, the credit provider conducts a credit enquiry.

As a result of this credit check, David's application for a car loan will be recorded on his Credit Report. It is important to note the application is recorded on David’s Credit Report – and that this information remains on his Credit Report for five years – no matter what happens. Even if David doesn’t proceed to take out a loan from ABC Car Finance, the fact he applied for one remains on his Credit Report and may affect his Credit Score.

The type of credit applied for, the amount of credit and the number of credit enquiries over a period of time can all have an impact on your Credit Report.

Many people are unaware that shopping around can negative consequences where credit is concerned. If you make several credit applications in a short space of time, this may be seen as a sign you are in financial difficulty and have a negative impact on your Credit Report and Credit Score.

Did you know....? Many applications in a short space of time can be an indicator of credit stress.

As the name suggests, your repayment history is a record of when you have paid your minimum monthly repayments on your credit cards and loans. Whether you meet your minimum monthly repayments on your credit card and loans each month can be recorded on your Credit Report as repayment history. The repayment history information section of a credit report includes whether your minimum monthly repayments have been made on time or how many days overdue the payment is.

There is a 14-day grace period before an overdue monthly payment can be reported by a credit provider and included as part of the repayment history section of your Credit Report

Regularly making your minimum repayments on time each month is a good way to demonstrate good credit behaviour. While one late repayment, depending upon how late the payment is, is unlikely to significantly impact your credit worthiness, a number of late payments could be an indication you are in financial stress and may negatively impact your Credit Report.

Repayment history information is recorded on your Credit Report for a period of two years.

A default is also known as an overdue debt. There are two types of defaults; consumer and commercial payment defaults.

Consumer payment default
A consumer payment default can be reported by a credit provider and listed on your Credit Report. This can only occur if you have an overdue debt of equal to, or more than, $150 that is more than 60 days overdue. For example, if you have a mobile phone bill of over $150 and it was due more than 60 days ago, your phone company can have it listed on your Credit Report as a payment default.

Before reporting a consumer default, the credit provider must take a number of steps. In particular, it must send two separate written notices to your last known address. The first notice will be a final request for payment and the second will be a warning that the overdue payment will soon be listed with a credit reporting body (such as Equifax).

Commercial payment defaults
In the case of commercial credit, the minimum default amount is $100. Before listing commercial defaults or overdue debts, commercial credit providers (or their agents) must send a notice to your last known address stating their intention to list the default amount with a credit reporting body (such as Equifax).

Potential credit providers may look unfavourably on applicants with a history of overdue accounts. If you want to maintain your creditworthiness, it’s a good idea to avoid defaults getting onto your Credit Report. To do this, make your repayments and pay your bills on or before the due date.

Both consumer and commercial payment defaults may stay on your credit report for five years, even when you have paid the entire overdue amount. When you have paid a default, the status is updated to ‘paid’ which can be looked upon more favourably by lenders but it will remain as part of your credit history.

Learn more: CreditSmart and MoneySmart have information to help you understand defaults.

Comprehensive credit reporting (CCR) means there is more ‘positive’ information that can be included on consumers’ credit reports. This provides a more detailed picture of an individual’s credit history and creditworthiness. CCR refers to the type of consumer credit information that can be collected by credit reporting bodies (CRBs) and can be used by credit providers when making a lending decision. The positive CCR data that can be included on credit reports includes:

  • Your account information, such as the type of accounts you have and the dates they were opened and closed

  • Your credit limits

  • Your repayment history for the past 24 months. (Only licenced credit providers can contribute to or review this repayment history.)
     

Previously Australia had a negative reporting system. This meant consumer credit reports could only contain information such as credit enquiries (typically applications for credit) and information from credit providers such as payment defaults and serious credit infringements. Most advanced economies in the world operate under a comprehensive credit reporting system.

CCR was introduced to Australia in 2014. (The Privacy Act 1988, which is the legislation governing consumer credit reporting in Australia, was amended to facilitate CCR.)

While CCR was introduced in 2014, limited CCR information was supplied to credit reporting bodies (such as Equifax) in the following years. In 2018, the amount of CCR information being supplied to credit reporting bodies increased dramatically as a result of Australia’s Big Four banks being required to adopt CCR reporting. 

Among other things, a serious credit infringement relates to overdue consumer debts where a person owes a debt to a credit provider but has left, or appears to have left, their last known address without paying that debt and without providing the credit provider with their new or forwarding address. A serious credit infringement can be listed on a credit report in this case if the person has not had contact with the credit provider for six months or more despite attempts by the credit provider to contact them.

Serious credit infringements on consumer credit remain on a credit report for seven years from the date they're listed. However, if they have been paid they revert back to a default and will remain on the credit report for five years. The fact that an amount has become overdue and then been paid still remains part of your credit history.

This all depends on the type of data. Personal identity information including your name, date of birth, gender, driver’s licence and address history is held for the life of the credit report. For other information on your Credit Report, here are some of the typical timeframes.

Two years
Repayment history information

Five years
Any credit enquiry
Overdue accounts listed as a payment default
Overdue accounts listed as clearouts
Writs and summons
Court judgments

Seven years
Serious credit infringements

For some information the timeframe will vary.

Information about consumer credit accounts you have with credit providers is known as consumer credit liability information.  This consumer credit liability information can be held for two years after the account has been terminated or ceases to exist. This means that the account information will remain on file for the length of the loan plus two years. 

Similarly, if you are bankrupt or have a personal insolvency agreement or debt agreement the length of time this information remains on your Credit Report could vary depending on when the bankruptcy, debt agreement or personal insolvency agreement was entered into and when it ends.

There is no set frequency with which your Equifax Credit Report is updated.

Your Equifax Credit Report may be updated on a monthly basis with, for instance, information about whether you made the monthly minimum repayment on your credit card on time. It will also be updated if a credit provider lists an overdue debt you’ve incurred. Your Credit Report may also be updated whenever you apply for credit, open or close an account, change your credit limit, or agree to act as a guarantor. When Equifax receives publicly available information, such as default judgments, court writs and Bankruptcy Act information, this will also update your Credit Report.

Your Equifax Business Credit Report may be updated whenever you apply for business credit, change your credit limit or are listed as a new director. Credit providers may also update your report when they list any overdue debts you may have incurred and we may also add certain information obtained from third parties, such as default judgments, court writs and Bankruptcy Act information.

Free Credit Reports from Equifax do not include a Credit Score. This is because your Credit Score is generated using Equifax's proprietary algorithms. There are a range of monthly subscription products that you may wish to consider which includes Credit Scores and Alerts, as well as other useful tools and information. 

No, checking your own Equifax Credit Report does not impact your Equifax Credit Score. When you check your Equifax Credit Report, you will have a File Access note added to it but this does not impact your Equifax Credit Score.

Learn more: Both CreditSmart and the Australian Government's MoneySmart have useful information about credit reports.

It can affect your Credit Report if the phone bill is in your name. If a bill payment is missed you should contact your telecommunications provider immediately and talk to them about the situation rather than hoping an overdue debt won’t be listed on your Credit Report.

It is unlikely that your friend can just assume the loan as that loan will still be in your name. It is also very risky to do that. If your friend fails to keep making the repayments on time, it’s your Credit Report that will be negatively impacted and you will be held liable for that loan. Be warned, having a default listed on your Credit Report will make it harder for you to get credit. In this situation, it is always best practice to pay off your car loan and have your friend arrange their own loan. 

There’s no getting around the fact that having a default listed on your Credit Report is a negative. However, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to have a bad Credit Report for life.

Firstly, your default can only remain on your Credit Report for a maximum of five years. Secondly, while you can’t have a default erased from your Credit Report, if you do eventually pay off the money you owe ­– or even just make arrangements to do so – this information will also be recorded on your Credit Report. Finally, if you are now in the habit of making your loan and credit card repayments on time, this can help lessen the damage done by having defaulted in the past. 

Most people at one time in their lives will use credit. Credit can help you to get the things you want without having to pay the full amount up front. Put simply, credit is where you obtain goods or services and get to enjoy the benefit immediately and pay for them in the future.

Items commonly bought on credit include houses, cars, household goods and holidays. Credit also includes ‘buy now pay later’ retail finance and credit contracts where you get the good or service now and pay it off over time. (For instance, a mobile phone you pay off over 18 months.)    

Credit is defined in the Privacy Act as a contract, arrangement or understanding under which
a) Payment of a debt owed by one person to another person is deferred; or
b) One person incurs a debt to another person and defers the payment of the debt.
 

When you apply for credit from a financial institution, or sign a contract that permits you to delay payment for goods or services, the organisation providing the credit wants to be confident you will pay back what you owe. Past behaviour is a strong predictor of future behaviour. So, if you’ve paid your bills and made your loan repayments in the past, the organisation will be reassured that you are likely to continue to do so in the future.

Credit reporting agencies (such as Equifax) keep track of whether you pay your bills and repay your debts, compiling this information into a credit report. When you apply for credit, the potential credit provider will typically review your Credit Report before deciding whether to extend credit to you. Depending on their lending criteria, the credit provider will place less or more weight on your Credit Report, but it usually has a significant impact on whether your credit application is approved or denied. 

Credit reports encourage responsible lending. That is, they play an important role in ensuring credit is only provided to those who are likely to be able to repay it.

As a credit reporting body, Equifax is one of the leading custodians of Australians' credit information.

See below for two examples of how credit reporting can work in the real world
 

New credit application
Sue applies for a personal loan with ABC Bank by completing a form online. The form has terms and conditions advising Sue that a credit check will be conducted and that her information can be passed on to a credit reporting body.

When assessing Sue's application for credit, ABC Bank takes into account information on the form, any other information they may have (like if she is an existing customer), and also requests a credit check from Equifax (or another credit reporting body in Australia). As part of this check, some information from the application is passed on to Equifax, such as Sue's name, address, employment details and the credit enquiry information. In response, Equifax will supply ABC Bank with all or part of Sue’s Credit Report and, in most cases, her Credit Score as well.

ABC Bank then makes a decision based on all the information they have about Sue's application for credit. Each credit provider will make their own credit assessment decision. While legislation determines the information a credit reporting body can pass on to credit providers, credit providers decide how to use it and what analysis to apply.  A credit provider can use a credit report as part of the information they review to help make a decision on whether to extend credit to you. They may also look at the information you include on your application form as well as any other information they may have on you as a customer, and include all this information when making a decision based on their own lending criteria. Therefore information from one lender may mean a loan application is rejected, whereas another will accept it. 
 

Default listing
Sue also has a mobile phone contract with the telco ABC Phone Company, and she has missed a number of payments. Despite ABC Phone Company contacting her, she has not paid her outstanding bills.

The phone company decides to list a default for non-payment (this is outlined in the terms and conditions of her account), which is legal because the amount is in excess of $150. This payment default information is provided to Equifax and other credit reporting bodies.

Next time Sue applies for credit, any credit provider who conducts a credit check with Equifax, or another credit reporting body, will be able to see this default information on her Credit Report.
 

A credit reporting body (CRB), often referred to as a credit bureau or credit reporting agency, is an organisation that collects and sells credit information. In Australia CRBs are governed by the Privacy Act. This Act sets out the rules about what information can be collected about you and included in your Credit Report, as well as who can access your Credit Report. Credit reporting information encourages responsible lending by helping ensure credit is only provided to those who are likely to repay it. There are four CRBs in Australia: Equifax, illion, Experian and Tasmania Collection Service.

CRBs are obligated to provide you with a copy of the information they have on you, including your Credit Report for free.

Each CRB, like Equifax, maintains their own set of consumer credit information based on data from credit providers, like banks, financial institutions, telecommunications and utilities companies and publicly available data.

Every CRB maintains its own consumer credit information based on data from credit providers, as well as publicly available data. (Credit providers such as banks, financial institutions, telecommunications businesses and utilities companies and publicly available data such as court writs and judgements relating to credit and bankruptcies.)

Learn more: CreditSmart helps explain credit reporting.

The short answer is that Equifax can only give your Credit Report to a select range of organisations that have a legitimate interest in your creditworthiness.

The longer answer is that access to your Credit Report is governed by the Privacy Act. This Act, specifically its ‘Australian Privacy Principles’ and Part IIIA on Credir reporting, lays out strict conditions around what organisations are permitted to request a Credit Report from credit reporting bodies (such as Equifax).

Equifax can only supply your Credit Report, or information on it, to:

  • A credit provider

  • A mortgage broker

  • A trade insurer

  • Your agent (for example, a broker, financial counsellor, debt management company or credit repair agency you’ve employed)

     

You may have commercial credit and public record information on your Credit Report. If this is the case, and certain requirements are met, this information can be supplied to:

  • Organisations involved in commercial-credit-related activities. (For instance, if an organisation you are a director of applies for credit, the potential credit provider can access the commercial credit and public record information on your Credit Report.)

  • Organisations that collect commercial credit debts

  • Organisations that require this information for financial or credit-risk-related purposes

No. Employers cannot request your Credit Report from credit reporting bodies (such as Equifax). Your actual or potential employer can ask you to provide them with a copy of your Credit Report, but it is up to you whether you choose to do so. (It’s not common for employers to ask current or prospective employees for their Credit Reports. But this does happen, especially if your creditworthiness could impact your suitability to work for a particular organisation, or in a particular role.)

A notation will be added on your Credit Report whenever your Credit File is disclosed. This will be listed on your Credit Report as either an ‘enquiry’ or as a ‘file access’.

Most people think of credit cards, personal loans or mortgages when credit is mentioned but there are also less obvious forms of credit. Any business that provides payment terms of at least seven days can be a credit provider. Utility companies and telecommunication providers are often credit providers. So are retailers that offer ‘buy now, pay later’ deals.

Even if you’ve never had a credit card, or paid off a mobile phone in instalments, or had an account with a utility provider, you might still have a credit report. If you’ve rented a TV, or gone guarantor for a loan or been a company director, you will probably have a credit report.

Any business that provides a good or service up front and gets paid for it more than a week later is entitled to access your credit record (as long as you’ve put in a request for them to provide you with something on credit).

There are several reasons why you may not have a credit history, such as:

  • You’ve never applied for credit

  • You were in a relationship where the loans and bills were all in your partner’s name

  • You haven’t applied for credit for a long time. In this case you will still have a Credit Report, but it will have no credit history information. (This information is usually deleted once it’s more than five years old.) 

 

Younger and older Australians, as well as divorcees and recent migrants to Australia, are more likely to have no credit history or a ‘thin’ credit history.

Even if you don't have a credit history, you can still apply for credit. However, the potential credit provider will have to use sources of information other than a credit report to determine your creditworthiness.

You don’t need to get a credit card to establish a credit history. Other forms of credit like a post-paid mobile phone or electricity contract will also kick start your Credit Report.

We will create an Equifax Credit Report on you when we first receive information about you. A credit report is generally established when you make your first application for credit. This could be when you apply for a post-paid mobile phone contract, utilities account such as electricity, gas or water, an internet or Pay TV service, credit card or store finance.

To establish your own credit report, the application needs to be in your name and at your current residential address.

A credit report could also be established if you are a business director and we receive this information from ASIC or default judgement information is collected by us from the court system.

Equifax has some simple steps you can follow to help you keep your credit report healthy:

1. Pay your loans and bills on time
Consider setting up direct debits and schedule loan repayments for your pay day.

2. Keep track of your credit commitments
Do your homework before applying for credit and keep track of your credit commitments. Making a number of applications within a short space of time will be recorded on your file and is not always looked upon positively by lenders.  This is because multiple credit applications are often a sign someone is under financial stress.

3. If you move house or update your contact details, notify lenders
If you move or change your email address, make sure to update your contact details with any businesses that send you bills. If you don’t receive bills and don’t pay them, you could end up with defaults listed on your Credit Report. 

4. Let credit providers know if you’re in financial difficulty
If you contact them, they will often be willing to come to some arrangement with you. But if you fail to make your repayments with no explanation, you’ll probably end up with a default on your Credit Record.

5. Keep track of your credit record
Proactively manage your personal credit profile by regularly checking your Credit Report. You can do this by checking the information held by credit reporting bodies in Australia, including by Equifax in your Equifax Credit Report. You’re entitled to a free Credit Report once a year and whenever you have an application for credit denied. You also have the option of signing up to a monthly subscription with Equifax, which will entitle to regular credit reports, along with other tools that will allow you to monitor your creditworthiness.

As a general rule, you can have information removed from your Credit Report if it is found to be incorrect, misleading, incomplete or out of date.

Some specific situations when you can ask to have information deleted from your file are:

  • When a default listed on your Credit Report has subsequently become statute barred (i.e. the debt you defaulted on is no longer legally enforceable because a specified period of time has elapsed)

  • When you have entered into a new arrangement with a credit provider following a default

  • When a default was listed on your Credit Report as a result of circumstances outside of your control, such as a bank error

 

Equifax will investigate and remove the default information, in this insrance, if the debt has become statute barred or the listing was a result of unavoidable circumstances and you have entered into a new arrangement with the credit provider.

Learn more in the Corrections section of the Equifax Help Centre

If you believe there is incorrect or incomplete information on your Equifax Credit Report, it is important that you get this corrected. The information used to generate an Equifax credit report is provided to Equifax by credit providers. A wide range of businesses provide their customers with credit of some type and these businesses do sometimes give Equifax inaccurate or incomplete information. 

The best way to correct information on a credit report is to speak directly with the credit provider that the error relates to and ask that it be investigated and your credit report amended. We have a handy list of contact details for creditor providers or you can use the Equifax Corrections Portal.

If you review your Equifax Credit Report and find an enquiry from a credit provider you have not applied for credit with it is important to have it investigated. You can contact the credit provider (or Equifax) and ask them to investigate (you won’t have to pay any fees or charges if you do this). The credit enquiry may have been put on your Equifax Credit Report in error or it may be someone trying to fraudulently apply for credit in your name.

Learn more about fixing your Credit Report in the Corrections section of the Equifax Help Centre. 

Accessing your Equifax Credit Report is easy, and it is free. You can request your credit report from Equifax in the following ways:

  • Order online on our website

  • Call us on 13 8332 and follow the prompt

  • Mail your request to us at PO Box 964, NORTH SYDNEY NSW 2059

Free Equifax Credit Reports are delivered within one business day, provided we are able to verify your identity.

 

You are entitled to a free Credit Report from Equifax once every three months or in the following situations:

  • You’ve been denied credit. In this case you need to make your request for a free Credit Report within 90 days from the date your application was declined.

  • You have submitted a correction request and are advised that the information on your Credit Report has been corrected.

 

When applying for your free Equifax credit report it is a good idea to have the following information at your fingertips:

  • Your full name

  • Your date of birth

  • Your driver's licence number

  • Your current residential address

  • Your previous addresses

  • Your current employer or a previous employer

  • Name of the organisation to which you last applied for credit

 

Only you can request a copy of your Equifax Credit Report (you can’t have your partner or a family member do it). For security reasons, you will be asked to verify your identity prior to receiving a copy of your Credit Report.

Equifax also offers a range of subscription plans where you can get your Equifax Credit Report, Equifax Credit Score and features such as credit and identity monitoring.

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