How to protect your credit rating in Australia

Did you know that being only a few days late making a payment on a loan or credit can impact your credit file and credit score?. Even the smallest lapse in organisation with your money could result in a downgrade in your credit worthiness in the eyes of credit bureaus.


Most people are aware that a loan default will be recorded on their credit report if they fail to pay their debts on time for a sustained period. However, what many people don’t realise is that under the Australian Privacy Act even late payments can tarnish what would otherwise be a perfect looking credit file.


If your personal circumstances mean that you look like missing a repayment, it is a good idea to get on the front foot with the Lender or Creditor to make arrangements.


What payments can be recorded as late?


Payments exceeding $150 which have not been paid within 14 days of the due date can be recorded on your credit file in a section called Repayment History Information (RHI).


Even if you have paid part of the amount owing it will still be recorded on your RHI as a missed payment and impact your credit file. If you have a credit card payment due, then a missed payment will be considered if you do not make the minimum repayment amount on your credit card statement.


What is the impact to me?


Adverse data on your RHI and credit file can impact your ability to be approved for a new credit card, car finance, home loan. Often when applying for one of these credit facilities, the Lender will get access to your credit file and RHI and will see your repayment history on existing credit facilities and look for red flags.


Even if you are approved, the interest rate charged may be higher due to the adverse repayment history found on your credit file.


If debt collection agency has been engaged to recover money from you, then your repayment history with them and any action they have taken to recover the amount owing can also be captured. The best thing to do is to get on the front foot using the tools and platform offered by companies like Settled. to clear these debts up before they have an impact on your future.


If you are a business you are not exempt


Business operators may be impacted as well and need to pay attention to these rules. As an example, if a business relies on credit terms to buy stock and a repayment is late more than 14 days, the details may be recorded against the business credit history by the supplier and this can significantly impact other existing supplier relationships as well as new ones.


You may be asked to pay cash upfront or cash on delivery rather than be offer payment terms. This can significantly impact business cash flow and increase the working capital requirement of the business.


How to access to your RHI


When a credit provider accesses your RHI, you should be notified as to what information has been collected and to whom the information will be disclosed.


A copy of your RHI must be made available to you upon request. You can request one report per year at no cost but you may have to wait up to 10 days generally before you get it.


The main credit reporting agencies in Australia are Illion, Equifax and Experian.


If you believe your RHI contains incorrect information, you should report this to the relevant credit provider. If you believe your credit report is being inappropriately handled, you can contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on 300 363 992 or enquiries@oaic.gov.au.


Get on top of your debt before any adverse records ever appear on your credit file or RHI. Settled can provide you with tips and tools to negotiate with lenders and debt collectors so your debt problems become a thing of the past. Sign up to our digital platform at https://settled.app/packages and be debt free as soon as today!


Sources:

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website www.oaic.gov.au “Privacy fact sheet 34 – Repayment history information and your credit report”

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