Recently a broker sent me, for the first time, a free Credit Savvy report for one of his clients (with permission of course).
Credit Savvy is a joint venture of Aussie Home Loans and Experian, the multinational credit reporting agency behemoth that has been operating in the UK and US for well over a decade. Experian has been lured to our shores by the new positive credit reporting regime in Australia, a system they are well versed in across the world.
The broker was concerned about the low score on his client’s Credit Savvy report with no apparent reason. When I looked at the report, there was a good outline of credit inquiries, but no details on who had listed defaults, judgments, writs etc.. Rather, there was recorded a numeral indicating if there was one, two or more adverse listings in each category. But as the client did not have any numerals indicating any adverse listings on his file, and his credit inquiry level was low (only five inquiries since 2011, and only one in the past year), why on earth was the score so low?
My advice to the broker was to have the client order a Veda report to get a more detailed picture of what was going on. While this costs just a tick under $80 (a lot less if you, as broker, have an arrangement with Veda), it does include information about things like linked files, which may be the problem in a case like this.
From time to time, we see clients with more than one credit file linked to their name (marked by an X1 or X2 etc. on a Veda report) and if there is adverse information on any file linked to the client’s name, it will affect the score across all their credit files. The other thing that could be causing the low score is the client being a director of a company that has an adverse listing. This again can affect the individual’s score.
So after seeing what happened with this broker’s client, I am not at all convinced that Credit Savvy reports show that depth of information in more complex cases. There is a link that takes you to Experian to order a full report (either a free one that comes in 10 days, or a paid one) but I am not sure it would be as accurate as a Veda one because another client we assessed today had a score in the 200s on his Credit Savvy report, and there was a ‘1’ next to defaults, but the client (and the score) indicated he had more, which after receiving a copy of his Veda report, proved to be correct – he had four defaults.
So as a quick upfront assessment, Credit Savvy might be worth trying – and gee it’s an easy process to get your score. To get it, you only need to insert your full name, date of birth, address and one of four forms of ID (Australian driver’s licence number, Australian passport number, Medicare card number or foreign passport number) and bingo! It’s instantaneous.
So, as a first step when assessing a prospect (when you don’t have access yourself to cheap Veda reports), it may be worth suggesting the client get their Credit Savvy report to see where their credit score is at. If the score is low and there are no numerals next to adverse listings, or if other information does not make sense when speaking with your client, then you will definitely want to move to plan B, which is to get a Veda report. I dislike the free-to-consumer Veda report option because Veda usually takes longer than the prescribed 10 days to get it to the client, and I don’t like the client waiting around for it when they are ready to go ahead with an application.
My summation: Veda still reigns supreme in relation to the quality and extent of credit reporting data. Credit Savvy (Experian) is still new and does not have all the information it needs to give an accurate report every time, so you need to watch that. But I’m sure it won’t be long before Experian catches up and there may come a time when both or all (including Dun & Bradstreet if they lift their game) reports have to be accessed to ensure you know your client’s true credit score position. In the UK where Princeville also operates, a company called Noddle puts all the data from three credit reporting agencies together in a free report, so I’m guessing that might happen down the track here as well.
Dr Merrilyn Mansfield, consumer advocate, Princeville Credit Advocates
Dr Merrilyn Mansfield is a consumer advocate with Princeville Credit Advocates, and a theologian and historian. She is currently studying law. Dr Mansfield is fascinated with the credit reporting laws in Australia and the UK and works in both countries to implement these laws for the benefit of credit-impaired consumers and companies. Please call the Princeville team on 1300 936 363 or inquire at www.wemend.com.au for confidential assistance.
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