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How To Check Your Credit Report For Free
●June 25, 2021●5 minute read
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If you’ve ever owned a credit card, inquired about a home loan, or even applied for a postpaid mobile phone plan, you will have a credit history. All of this information is displayed in one place for lenders and other creditors to use: your credit report.
Below, we discuss what a credit report is, how you can check yours for free and more.
What is a credit report?
A credit report is an important document that gives an overview of how you manage your credit products. It details a record of your credit information, including history of your credit products and repayment conduct, and is used to generate your credit score. There are three main credit reporting bureaus that each have their own credit reporting system: Equifax, Experian, and illion.
The information on your credit report is what’s used to calculate your credit score, which is a number between 0 and 1,000 or 1,200 (depending on your credit reporting bureau) used to indicate your reliability as a borrower. Depending on the creditor’s reporting system, you could have a credit report using comprehensive credit reporting and another using negative credit reporting.
Negative credit reporting only details negative credit information, such as defaults, missed payments, and bankruptcies. On the other hand, comprehensive credit reporting (CCR) details up to 36 months of repayment history and the types of credit applied for.
If you have a good credit history, your credit score will likely be considered “good”. This means that lenders will likely feel confident about your creditworthiness, and are more likely to approve a loan. However, if your report is filled with negative information, then you will likely have a bad credit rating, which will reflect on your reliability as a borrower.
Whether you apply for a personal loan or a credit card, lenders can view your credit report and assess how risky it is to lend to you or give you credit. It can also be used to calculate the interest rate on your loan, which is yet another reason why it’s a good idea to pay your phone bills on time!
What is in your credit report?
To get an idea of what’s included in your credit report, Equifax breaks down the type of information that’s included in your file:
||This is information regarding your identity, such as your full name, birth date, and other names you may have used when you applied for credit (i.e. prior to marriage or divorce).
||Including your current address and any other addresses you had when you opened a credit account.
||The number of accounts you have and whether they are a credit card or a loan. It will also list the date it was opened and what your credit limit is.
||Your report will outline how you manage and repay debts for your credit accounts.
||All of the enquiries that you have made will be recorded. The names of people you’ve jointly applied for credit with will also be listed.
How long does information remain in your credit report?
Below, we give a quick rundown of how long certain types of information remain on your credit report:
- Credit accounts: Your current accounts, plus accounts you have closed in the past, remain on your credit report for two years.
- Repayment history: A record of how you’ve managed your debts over the past two years will be available on the report.
- Credit applications: Applications for credit will stay on your report for five years.
- Defaults and serious credit infringements: Failure or issues with repaying bills will stick around on your credit history for five years.
- Court decisions and bankruptcies: Visible for up to five years.
How do I check my credit report for free?
There are many reasons why you might want to check your credit report. Credit providers are obliged to inform you if your application was rejected based on information in your credit report. The Privacy Act gives us the right to find out what’s in our reports, change any errors, and monitor whether someone has attempted to obtain credit in your name.
Did you know?
According to MoneySmart, you have the right to get a copy of your credit report and credit score for free every three months. They recommend that it’s worth reviewing a copy at least once every 12 months.
Why check your credit report?
There are many reasons why it can be a good idea to check your credit report at least once every year:
- Reviewing your report yearly means you can assess whether someone has tried to gain credit under your name.
- You can ensure there is no incorrect information in your report. Errors may resemble enquiries companies have made about your credit that you are unable to explain.
- Lenders and credit providers can view your credit history when making a decision on you as a loan applicant. Knowing the information they are reviewing in your report can help you negotiate better credit terms, guide your credit repair, or understand why your loan was rejected.
How to request your credit report for free
You can get a free copy of your credit report by reaching out to these credit reporting agencies:
You will likely have a credit report with more than one agency. Some agencies hold different information so it’s important you obtain a report from more than one to effectively assess the details.
When you apply to obtain your credit report, you will be required to provide personal information including:
- Your full name;
- Contact details;
- Personal identification (a drivers licence number or a birth certificate).
You will not need to supply credit card details, so you might want to avoid any providers that ask for this.
How long does it take?
According to Commonwealth Bank, you can access your credit report for free online within a day or two of requesting to see it. Otherwise, it will take up to 10 days for the report to arrive by email or post. If you need to view your report on short notice, there may be a charge.
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Written by Charlotte Monteath
Charlotte Monteath is a Content Intern at Jacaranda Finance. She has a Bachelor of Business Management & Journalism from the University of Queensland.