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Mystery shoppers spot check credit reporters

Mystery shoppers spot check credit reporters [14/5/19]

The Privacy Commissioner today [14 May] released a new report outlining shortcomings of New Zealand’s three national consumer credit reporting companies.

Credit reporters Centrix, Equifax, and illion collect and share information about individuals’ credit history, which is used to help credit providers make decisions about whether to issue loans or extend credit to borrowers.

Credit reports are based on factors such as accounts, credit card and bill payment history and whether someone has ever been made insolvent.

Between October 2018 and February 2019, the Privacy Commissioner’s office conducted spot checks of these companies using 30 mystery shoppers. The mystery shoppers sought their own credit reports from Centrix, Equifax and illion and then recounted their experiences.

The aim of the exercise was to assess whether credit reporters complied with access rules and limits on charging (as at 30 March 2019) and additionally, if they provided free credit reports as quickly as practicable.

The findings of the report include:

• Equifax and illion websites are difficult to navigate and need to more clearly advise consumers they can request a free credit report.

• That credit reporters often failed to meet five working day timeliness rules for expedited reports.

• Equifax’s credit reports lacked detail in explaining what factors affect an individual’s credit score.

Recommendations include:

• Credit reporters should ensure the delivery of expedited reports within five working days.

• While credit reporters are generally providing free reports within the 20 working day time frames, they should strive to provide reports as quickly as practicable since information is easily retrievable.

• Equifax’s credit reports should explain in more detail how its credit score is derived and what can affect the score.

Read the full report here.

Note for editors:

The Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2004 gives Kiwis the right to access reports that credit reporters hold about them quickly and for free. Due to credit report information constantly being updated, OPC believes it is important for consumers to have timely and regular access to accurate credit information about themselves. The CRPC was updated on April 1 and further changes will come into effect on 1 July and 1 October. Read about those changes here.

Further details regarding the Credit Reporting Privacy Code (CPRC) are outlined here.

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