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Miss a bill payment by one day and risk your credit rating


Miss a bill payment by one day and risk your credit rating: New Privacy Laws passed today.

29 November 2012

The credit history of Australian consumers is about to go under the microscope following the passing in Parliament today of amendments to Australia’s Privacy laws, and a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting says many consumers will not be prepared for the changes around credit reporting which are about to take place.

CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs, Graham Doessel says most Australians won’t know that from December 2012, they need to make bill payments to licenced Creditors on time, every time to avoid having a late payment recorded against their name. He is calling for greater consumer education to avoid unfair and surprise bad credit.

“Many people pay bills late, for a variety of reasons – this doesn’t necessarily mean they intend for the account to go into default. People who pay bills late often, by accident or otherwise need to be told that this habit could have a detrimental effect on their ability to obtain credit in the future.”

Mr Doessel goes on to say “I believe the Government should do its best to ensure that every credit active individual knows about these important changes to credit reporting law prior to the reporting of repayment history on Australian credit files.”

Amendments to Australia’s Privacy Act in the form of the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 – which includes major changes to Australia’s credit reporting laws were passed in Parliament today and come into effect from March 2014.

Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has also warned consumers that they need to prepare for the changes around credit reporting.

“If a person misses making a payment from as early as December 2012, it will be able to be recorded on their credit record and may affect their ability to access credit in the future. People will not only need to be vigilant about paying their bills on time, they should also make sure that the information held by these organisations is correct. In most cases they can do this for free’,” Mr Pilgrim said in a statement to the media.[i]

Mr Doessel reiterates the importance for every consumer to ensure their credit report reads accurately in the coming months.

“There will be so much more information open to lenders now, and consumers should routinely check their credit file, to ensure there are no inconsistencies, and to generally be aware of what is being said about them on their credit report that could see them refused credit in the future,” he says.

Every credit file holder is able to obtain a copy of their credit report for free every year from one or more of Australia’s credit reporting agencies – Veda Advantage, Dun and Bradstreet and Tasmanian Collection Services (if in Tasmania).

A report will be mailed to them within 10 working days. Or for a fee to the credit reporting agencies, they can request an urgent copy.

“It is the consumer’s responsibility to maintain the accuracy of their own credit file, and it will be more important than ever now. People should be encouraged to request a free credit report every year – regardless of whether or not they intend to apply for credit in the near future,” Mr Doessel says.

If consumers find inaccurate information or inconsistent data on their credit report they do have the right to have that information rectified.

Mr Doessel says whilst new laws covering credit corrections within the Privacy Amendments (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 are intended to make the process of disputing unfair or inconsistent entries easier, lack of knowledge of credit reporting legislation could still disadvantage the consumer.

“As it currently stands, disputing an unfair credit listing is a bit like a battle between David and Goliath, with the consumer rarely holding enough knowledge of what constitutes an unlawful credit listing to be able to remove it from their credit file on their own. It will be interesting to see if this will change after the March 2014 deadline,” he says.
ENDS.

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