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Answering common questions on credit reporting: part 3

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ARCA 5 minute read

In 2014, a number of changes were made to Australia’s credit reporting system, paving the way towards the introduction of comprehensive credit reporting. But what does it mean for you and your clients?

To help separate fact from fiction, the Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) and its consumer website CreditSmart.org.au answers common questions on applications, credit history and credit reports.

My client is worried about their credit record. Who can access their credit report?

There are strict protections around who can collect, access, use and disclose information in a credit report. When opening an account, an individual will be notified by their credit provider who their information will be provided to, and for what purpose.


The Privacy Act 1988 determines which people and organisations can access a consumer credit report. They include:

1. credit providers and agents of credit providers, including banks, finance companies, credit unions, insurance companies, telecommunications and utilities companies;
2. credit reporting bodies;
3. the customer themselves, their legal or financial advisers, or their authorised assistants (which may include a mortgage broker);
4. mortgage insurers or trade insurers;
5. enforcement bodies, external dispute resolution schemes and Australian courts.

When any organisation obtains access to credit reporting information, they need to keep a record of this, and may only access it for permitted purposes and use it for those purposes.

Not all information is available to all credit providers. Under the new comprehensive credit reporting system, credit reports may contain more information than just defaults, notably repayment history information (RHI). RHI includes information about whether an individual has made or missed a consumer credit payment. This information can only be provided and exchanged by credit providers with an Australian credit licence.

All organisations are obliged by the Privacy Act to ensure that consumer credit information is safe from unauthorised access or misuse. Credit providers and credit reporting bodies risk substantial fines if they fail to comply with this legal obligation. Furthermore, a client can always speak with their credit provider or get a copy of their credit report to understand who has had access to it.


Encouraging your clients to check their credit reports annually will help them avoid any surprises. They can do this once per year for free from the credit reporting bodies, and again if they have recently been declined credit.

For more information on the credit reporting system, including how to access free credit reports, visit CreditSmart.org.au.

[Related: Answering common questions on credit reporting – part 2]

Answering common questions on credit reporting: part 3
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