Changes to cred­it reporting

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.”