A credit file is record of information held by a credit bureau and accessed by banks, financial institutions or other businesses from which you may seek credit. This information helps lenders determine your creditworthiness. The use of credit files is regulated by the Privacy Act (1988) and all companies who access credit files must comply with certain obligations.
Your credit file is usually accessed when you apply for credit and includes the following information:
- Your identity details: including name, current address, previous addresses, date of birth and drivers licence number as known to the credit bureau.
- Credit enquiries: showing where you have sought credit (e.g. credit and charge cards, mortgages and personal loans) from banks, finance companies, telecommunications and utilities providers in the past five years.
- Overdue accounts (defaults): showing default listings of accounts that have become 60 days or more past terms, owing $100 or more and for which collections action has commenced.
- Public record information: including bankruptcies, writs and summonses, court judgements, directorships and proprietorships.
It is a good idea to review your credit file once a year. If you discover information you believe to be incorrect, you can ask the credit bureau to assist, free of charge. Accurate information stays on your file for 5 to 7 years and cannot be removed.
Under the Privacy Act, your credit file does not include sensitive information such as race, religion, health or and political affiliations.