How to check your credit history

Your credit history is what the banks and other lenders see when you apply for credit or a home loan. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to be able to check your credit report yourself for your own peace of mind. We explain how you can do that.

Why do I need to do a credit history check?

Your credit report could be the deciding factor that determines whether your loan application is approved or rejected. Having seemingly trivial financial ‘sins’ like a missed bill payment or a maxed-out credit card can either cost you your credit or home loan application.

If you want to check your credit history, you can request a free credit report from one of the reporting agencies once a year. Your report will usually take 10 days to arrive.

We suggest getting into the habit of doing an annual credit report check, as your credit rating may fluctuate during the year when new information is recorded in your credit report.

What’s in my credit report?

Your credit report will usually contain the following information:

  • Your personal details such as your full name, date of birth, current and previous addresses, phone number, current and past employer details and your driver licence, passport or birth certificate number.
  • Your credit history – credit cards you hold, your credit applications, credit infringements and defaults (if you have any).
  • Your debt history – the money you owe, including arrears brought up to date (unpaid or overdue debts that you have settled).
  • Your repayment history – this commonly lists the due dates of your credit payments (whether they were made or not) and missed payment dates (but not the amounts).
  • Debt agreements – these usually include any bankruptcies, court judgments and personal insolvency agreements in your name.
  • Report requests – details of credit providers who requested a copy of your credit report.

Who collects my information?

In Australia, the following credit reporting agencies gather information from credit providers who enlist their services:

  • Veda Advantage
  • Dun and Bradstreet
  • Experian
  • Tasmanian Collection Service.

It is also possible that your credit report could be with more than one agency.

Do I have a good or bad credit rating?

Different agencies use different scoring systems to work out your credit rating. As an example, Veda Advantage and a number of other agencies use the below ‘VedaScores’ to determine the chances of your loan application being successful:

  • 0-509 – Below Average. A ‘below average’ credit score puts you in the bottom 20% of creditors. This means you are more likely to suffer a default, or go bankrupt in the space of one year.
  • 510-621 – Average. Having an ‘average’ credit score means you’re likely to undergo a default, bankruptcy or court judgment in the next 12 months.
  • 622-725 – Good. Your odds of maintaining a clean credit report over the next year are better than the average creditor.
  • 726-832 – Very Good. This score means you’re unlikely to incur an event that might have a negative effect on your credit report in the space of the next 12 months.
  • 833-1200 – Excellent. An ‘excellent’ score puts you in the top 20% of the credit-active Australian population. This means your credit report is highly unlikely to suffer in the next 12 months.

How can I improve my credit rating?

Having an above average credit rating means banks will see you in a more positive light than other borrowers with a lower credit rating. Hence, you’ll be more likely to secure a loan after you’ve improved your credit track record. To do this, you’ll need to go through the following steps:

  • Review your credit report
  • Contact the credit provider to correct any inaccuracies
  • Avoid making multiple applications for a period of time
  • Pay your bills and loan repayments in a timely fashion
  • Consolidate your debts
  • Apply for a better rate on personal credit
  • Monitor your credit rating regularly to see where you stand.

How do I change an incorrect listing?

While credit reports aim to be as accurate as possible, they can still contain incorrect information, such a settled debt that was still recorded as being outstanding.

Should you find an incorrect listing on your credit report, you can get it changed for free. All you’ll need to do is contact the credit reporting agency and let them know about it.

In addition, we recommend avoiding debt solution companies and agencies who claim they can ‘fix’ your credit report for a certain amount of money.