CREDIT REPORTING – WHAT YOU DID AND DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT VEDA ADVANTAGE
Have you checked your credit status lately? If George Orwell were with us now, he would have marvelled at his perspicacity when he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949 – we hear of the tracking from our smart phones, laptops and even our TV’s – but there is a more insidious organisation tracking you and your credit history. Commercial Litigation Senior Associate Charles Lethbridge discusses the must know facts about Equifax (formerly known as Veda Advantage) and shares her tips on how to best protect your credit file.
It is a good bet that most people have never heard of Equifax. Equifax is Australia’s biggest credit reporting bureau that keeps a detailed file on every Australian who’s ever taken out a loan, a credit card or signed up for a phone utility service. You may not be aware of this organisation but trust me when I say, Equifax is definitely aware of you.
Information about an individual’s finances and credit worthiness is one of the most sensitive categories of personal information. Everybody has a credit report that contains personal details, loan enquiries, credit providers, serious debts and credit infringements, commercial credit and public record information including bankruptcy and default judgments. How is this possible? Credit providers (including banks, building societies, utility companies and telecommunications carriers) provide information about individuals activities in relation to consumer credit to central databases managed by credit reporting bodies (eg Equifax). These credit reporting bodies are then able to include that information on the individual’s credit report.
Part IIIA of the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) regulates consumer credit reporting in Australia. One of the objectives of the Privacy Act is to facilitate an efficient credit reporting system while ensuring that the privacy of individuals is respected. In recognition of that objective, the laws about credit reporting are intended to balance individuals’ interest in protecting their personal information with the need to ensure that credit providers have sufficient information available to assist them to decide whether to provide an individual with credit.
Banks and other credit providers can obtain a copy of an individual’s credit report from Equifax to assist them in deciding whether to provide an individual with consumer credit. It’s a scary thought that the information received, stored and reported is not always entirely accurate. A report from the Information Commissioner 3 years ago found that almost a third of Australian’s credit history reports contained incorrect information. If you’ve been delinquent in your lending behaviour in the past, erroneous defaults have been lodged on your credit file or misleading information has crept onto your personal credit file without your knowledge, you could find yourself being denied credit.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the formerly known Veda incorrectly listed a $7,000.00 judgment on an individual’s credit file but failed to notify the individual’s credit providers of the error once it became aware of it. Veda was ordered to issue a written apology and pay the complainant $10,000.00 for non-economic loss and $5,830.00 for reimbursement of unreasonably-incurred expenses in connection with making the complaint. Veda was also required to review its processes in relation to the collection, use and disclosure of court proceedings information.
Recently, a client of ours applied for a loan to buy her dream home in Queensland. She was refused final approval on her mortgage from her bank for the reason that a default judgment in the sum of $17,000.00 had been lodged on her personal credit record. After further investigation, it became apparent that the default judgment belonged to a completely different person with the same first and last name. The correction of this error took over 30 days and as a result, our client’s Contract fell through.
There are also cases of unscrupulous lenders and finance providers who use Veda as means of getting people to pay disputed loans or in litigious matters where they have been involved in fraudulent transactions. The recent spate of Telco finance scams are a perfect example of this where people are lured into equipment finance contracts under the guise of a cheap phone account and ‘free’ electronic goods (such as a new phone system, TV’s, etc.). See our blog on this issue by CLICKING HERE
Protect your identity and credit reputation and download your credit report now. For around $80.00 a year, you can subscribe and receive credit alerts which notifies you every time your credit file is tampered with, entries lodged or your credit file is reviewed.
Check your credit history now and take immediate steps to rectify incorrect information directly with the appropriate reporting bureau, Privacy Commissioner and/or the Financial Ombudsman Service, before it’s too late. Attwood Marshall have acted for many clients in matters involving incorrect credit histories and breaches of privacy.
If you would like more information or want to obtain the best possible chance of a successful outcome in your dispute, please contact our Commercial Litigation Department Manager, Amanda Heather on direct line 07 5506 8245, email firstname.lastname@example.org or free call 1800 621 071.
We have an experienced dedicated Commercial Litigation team that practice exclusively in these areas.