17 May 2012 Changes to credit reporting

By Georgina King, Associate

In Brief

On 2 May 2012, the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, announced that proposed amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) will be introduced during the winter session of Federal Parliament. The proposed amendments will include changes to the way in which credit reporting operates in Australia.

The proposed changes to credit reporting aim to give consumers increased power to access and correct credit information reported about them. The Attorney-General's Department says that the beneficial changes for consumers will be:

  • a clear requirement for organisations to justify or substantiate disputed credit listings;
  • measures to make it easier for individuals to access and correct their credit reporting information; and
  • a simpler process for complaints about credit listings whereby:
    • complaints can be made directly to the Privacy Commissioner rather than first being made to the credit provider or credit reporting agency; and
    • alternative dispute resolution will be used to more effectively resolve complaints.

There will also be a prohibition on collecting credit information about children.

The exact form of the proposed amendments will not be known until the Bill is introduced into Parliament.

In its media release about the reforms, the Attorney-General's Department says that along with the benefits for consumers, the credit industry will benefit from the reforms because the changes will provide "a more accurate picture of an individual’s credit situation" which will help the industry "make a robust assessment of credit risk, which is expected to lead to lower credit default rates."

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This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.

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