How Can You Find Out Your Credit Rating
Your credit rating can make or break your chances of obtaining any type of loan, credit card, or mortgage. Your credit rating will determine the interest rate lenders assess on your loan, and can cause borrowers to have to pay huge deposits in order to obtain credit. Your credit rating is assigned based on the information in your credit file. A credit file is a comprehensive report maintained by the credit agencies on every individual who has been "credit-active" within the previous seven years.
Can lenders look at my credit file?
A lender can pull your credit file if you have applied for credit. Providers of goods and services may also pull your report if you defer payment for more than one week. However, no one is permitted to view an individual's credit file without that person's explicit permission. Furthermore, lenders may vary in their views of a "good" credit file. Information that may get one applicant at Lender A rejected may pass without question at another lender. The decision regarding whether a borrower is "credit worthy" is entirely up to the lender evaluating the report.
What information is in my credit file?
Every person's credit file contains similar types of information. The credit file will include:
- the date the credit was applied for
- whether the credit account was a personal or joint application
- who the lender was
- how much credit was applied for and how much was granted
- the type of credit that was applied for
Using the information in the credit file, these agencies give individuals a credit rating. This credit rating is used by lenders to determine whether or not to extend a line of credit and what interest rate to offer the borrower. This credit file is updated every time the borrower applies for new credit.
Credit files also include personal information about the individual. This information is used to identify the individual, and to group them into credit assessment categories. The credit file includes information regarding the borrower's:
- name, address, driver's licence number, date of birth, and employment record
- current credit accounts
- overdue or defaulted accounts
- bankruptcy records
- court judgments or writs & summons
- public records
Why should I pull my credit file?
All consumers are encouraged to periodically obtain and review their credit reports. Pulling your credit report at regular intervals is essential for good credit health. Regular review of your credit report can help stop identity theft and fraud. Regular credit checks can also help you avoid paying higher interest rates due to inaccurate or incorrect information being reported on your credit file. Experts recommend that consumers check their credit report at least once a year to avoid irregularities and safeguard against credit fraud.
Does it hurt my credit rating to look at my credit file?
Although your credit rating will be reduced by repeated inquiries from lenders, utility providers, mobile phone carriers, or other financial institutions, there is no penalty for checking your own credit rating. Also note that when lenders pull your credit to offer your pre-approval offers, those inquiries do not affect your credit.
How can I get my credit file?
There are two main credit bureaus in Australia: Veda Advantage and Dun and Bradstreet. Each credit bureau maintains different records regarding each individual, so you should request a copy of your credit file from both agencies on a regular basis.
Both Veda Advantage and Dun and Bradstreet offer free copies of your credit file by post within 10 days. Both companies also offer online credit files within 1 business day for a cost ($25 for Dun and Bradstreet, $29.95 for Veda Advantage).
To obtain your credit file, you must provide the credit bureau with the following information to verify your identity:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Driver's license number
- Current and previous home address
- Current and previous employers
- The last lender with whom you applied for credit
- A contact telephone number
Obtaining Your Report
You can obtain a copy of your credit file by requesting the information via post, or visiting the credit agency's website.
For Veda Advantage, mail inquiries to:
Veda Advantage Public Access
P.O. Box 964
North Sydney, NSW 2059
You can also request your credit file from Veda Advantage by visiting http://www.mycreditfile.com.au and clicking "Order Online Now."
For Dun and Bradstreet Australia, mail inquiries to:
Dun & Bradstreet (Australia)