What's the difference between your credit score and credit report?
Getting your head around credit can be a little complex with all the terms that get bandied about. We thought we'd clear things up for you so you know exactly what everything means.
Don't know the difference between a credit report and a credit score? You will at the end of this article! Let's get started.
Firstly, why are credit reports and credit scores important?
If you've applied for or used credit at any point in your life, then you are likely to have a credit report and a credit score. These could also be referred to as your credit profile. It's a way for Australian credit providers - such as banks and credit card companies – to help determine your creditworthiness (how likely it is you'll be able to repay a loan) and supports responsible lending.
Your credit report and score are pieces of information that can be used by credit providers to help decide whether or not you will receive credit you apply for (a home loan, personal loan or credit card, for example). They can also contribute to the terms on which you receive the credit.
What is a credit report?
A credit report is a record of your credit history, which is collected from a number of different sources, including:
- Credit providers:
- Credit unions
- Payday lenders
- Store credit issuers
- Phone and utility providers.
- Public record information:
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) records.
- Judiciary records, such as court writs and judgements relating to credit.
- Bankruptcy and debt agreement information.
So, what can you expect your credit report to contain? There are a number of components to the report, including:
- Personal information: Your name, gender, date of birth, driver's licence number, address and employment history.
- The number of credit enquiries, or applications, you've made.
- Any proprietorships or directorships you have.
- Any overdue accounts.
- Details about credit accounts you may hold: the provider, account type, opening date, closing date, credit limit.
- Repayment history (subject to the lender providing this information to the credit bureau such as Equifax): Whether you meet your repayments on time, any missed or late payments (this information won't be provided by phone and utility providers).
- Defaults: Debts of $150 or more that were not paid within 60 days and have been listed by your credit provider.
The details inside your credit report, including how and when it can be accessed, are regulated by the Privacy Act 1988. This Act aims to balance the need to respect the privacy of individuals with the need to ensure credit providers have the information at their disposal to grant credit to consumers. You can access your credit report for free each year.
Your credit report cannot be changed unless information contained within it is found to be incorrect. If there is incorrect information on your report, the Privacy Act dictates it is your right to dispute this. You can do this by approaching your credit reporting body directly and asking them to investigate for you. Equifax has a Corrections Portal set up for this very purpose.
What is a credit score?
In contrast to the credit report, which contains information about your credit history in writing, the credit score is a numerical figure. The Equifax Score uses the information from your report at a point in time and turns this into a number between 0 and 1,200. The credit report contains detailed information, while the credit score expresses your creditworthiness as a single number.
Two people could have the same credit score, however, this does not mean the information contained within their credit report is identical. The factors contributing to the generation of a credit score are multi-faceted.
Equifax uses a unique and comprehensive credit scoring model that has been honed over decades of experience in credit reporting. When you get your Equifax Score, it will be displayed both as a number and a percentage range that situates you within a range of other credit-active Australians:
- Below average (bottom 20 per cent)
- Average (21-40 per cent)
- Good (41-60 per cent)
- Very good (61-80 per cent)
- Excellent (81-100 per cent)
Equifax's credit scoring model compares your credit behaviour with that of other credit-active Australians.
The Equifax Score predicts how likely you are to record a default or other adverse information like a court judgment or personal insolvency in the next 12 months compared to the average credit-active Australian. If you have a below average or average Equifax Score you are more likely to have adverse information recorded and if your Equifax Score is good, very good or excellent, Equifax predicts you are less likely compared to the average credit-active Australian.
Why is it important to stay on top of my credit profile?
As your credit profile comprises a credit score and credit report generated using data from your credit history, it's important to keep track of changes to your credit report and credit score, because that way you can potentially improve how you're perceived by lenders. This is particularly vital if you're planning to apply for a large form of credit soon, such as a home loan. Changes to your credit profile could also indicate that incorrect information has been entered, in which case you'll be alerted quickly and be able to act.
Take a look at Equifax's free credit report and annual subscription packages to help you get on top of your credit profile today or you can find out your credit score for free at GetCreditScore.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstance before acting on it, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a finance professional such as an adviser.