Do you know your personal credit history and credit scores?
Knowing your credit status is vital to help you manage your finances and secure that car loan of your dreams, and getting a credit report is but the first step in getting financially healthy.
A credit report not only helps you to understand your current credit score but it also can help you to find out if your personal and financial details are safe, or if you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
The Privacy Act of 1988 stipulates that you are entitled to free access to your credit history and credit score from each of the leading credit reporting agencies that can help you when applying for a job or loan. But asking for a credit report means that your contact details will now become available to lenders, debt collectors, and creditors who may check the report.
Here, we look at the process of getting a copy of your credit report and simplify the process for you so that you don’t end up pulling your hair out when the time comes.
Choose A Credit Reporting Agency
The first step to getting your credit report is selecting your preferred credit reporting agency. In Australia, there are three leading credit reporting agencies:
Each of these agencies has, by law, to issue you with a free copy of your credit report every 12months.
We recommend that you avoid any other websites promising free credit reports. Also, it is essential to ensure that you’re on the official credit report agency website to prevent your personal and financial details from falling in the hands of online scammers.
Step 1 – Fill In Your Personal Information
Upon identifying your agency of choice, visit their website and fill in your personal information.
You’ll need to submit the following personal details:
- Your legal names
- Date of birth
- Previous and current residential addresses
- Copy of ID – driver’s license, birth certificate, proof of age card, utility bill
- Daytime telephone number
- Name of the financial institution to which you last applied for credit
Ensure that all the information you submit is accurate and that it goes to the legit site with SSL encryption. Providing such sensitive information to a fake website can expose you to cybercrime.
Step 2 – Provide Additional Information
After filling in your personal information, the credit reporting agency may require additional details about your credit status.
This information includes any credit applications done in the last five years, lenders you may owe money, overdue payments, bankruptcy filing, and current employer.
It is advisable to have all this information on hand before visiting the credit reporting agency website. Doing so, will shorten the application period and reduce the risk of you entering the wrong credit information.
Step 3 – Verify Your Details
At times, credit agencies may have made errors on your credit file lodged with them.
For instance, your names or addresses might be wrong. These mishaps may require that the credit reporting agency verify your identity to avoid sending the right information to the wrong person.
The agency will require you to answer some qualifying questions on information such as your credit card and account numbers.
Also, they may ask for your current and previous phone numbers. This step is crucial in ensuring that you’re safe from identity theft.
Step 4 – Pay Any Fees And Wait For Your Credit Report
After filling in your form and providing all the necessary information, all you need do now is wait for your credit report.
If it is your first credit report, you’ll need to wait for at least ten days. Subsequent credit reports should get to you sooner, but you may have to pay a fee for them.
Should you find errors in the details of your credit report, request that the credit reporting agency correct it. Such errors could harm your credit score and need to be expunged from your record as soon as possible.
These errors include an overdue loan that you’ve already cleared, an address that you’ve never lived at, or a spelling mistake in your name or date of birth.
Getting your credit report isn’t that difficult, but it is an essential part of sound financial practice. The law entitles you to a free report every 12 months, so it’s a good idea to get the report.
If you’re not comfortable making the application online, credit reporting agencies allow you to make an offline application, which you can then send to them in the post.
It is essential to get into the habit of checking your credit health to plan for future financial plans like Home Loans as well as spot any identity theft attempts on your file.