Did you know credit reporting is changing?

Wednesday, 12th Sep 2018

Did you know credit reporting in Australia is changing? If not, you’re not alone. Despite new credit reporting rules coming into force in July 2018, the vast majority of Australians remain unaware of these changes and how they will impact their potential borrowing capacity.

The new move towards comprehensive credit reporting, now compulsory amongst major lenders, will see more data being included on credit reports, and will likely have a significant impact on  investors’ credit scores. But what do these changes mean? And is comprehensive credit reporting a good or bad thing for investors?

What’s changing?

Comprehensive credit reporting, also known as ‘positive credit reporting’, has been in play in Australia since 2014, but has (up until now) remained voluntary. Whilst remaining an opt-in process for some lenders, as of 1st July 2018, comprehensive reporting became mandatory for the Big Four banks. The major lenders were given 90 days to supply 50% of comprehensive credit data to credit bureaus, with the further 50% to be supplied by 1st July 2019. But what exactly is comprehensive credit reporting?

The move towards comprehensive credit reporting will see lenders provide more consumer credit information to credit reporting bodies. Under the previous negative reporting system, consumer credit reports would only include information such as previous enquiries for credit products and defaults on payments 60 days or more overdue. However, under the new system, credit reports will now include up to 24 months of additional repayment information, including repayments (made or missed) on credit cards, personal loans and mortgages. Other information included in the comprehensive reports includes:

  • When a credit account was opened or closed
  • The type of account held
  • The credit limits of the accounts
  • Up to 24 months of repayment history

How will these changes impact investors?

The inclusion of this additional data isn’t necessarily a bad thing for borrowers. In fact, for those who make repayments on time, comprehensive credit reporting is likely to be a good thing, as it provides a means for borrowers to build a strong credit score and show their positive repayment history. This could ultimately provide borrowers with better credit opportunities, and could be especially beneficial for first-home buyers who were previously unable to show their creditworthiness.

Having said this, borrowers also need to be aware of how these changes could negatively impact them. Whilst previous reports would only include information regarding serious infringements such as defaults or bankruptcies, the new inclusion of an individual’s comprehensive repayment history could see those who miss repayments suffer from lower credit scores. Some of the factors that may decrease your credit score include:

  • Not making minimum credit card payments on your credit card
  • Late payments on credit cards, personal loans and mortgage of 14 days or more (note: this doesn’t apply for utility bills)
  • Defaults overdue by 60 days or more
  • Submitting multiple loan applications/enquiries

What can you do to protect your credit score?

Whilst the full effects of comprehensive credit reporting are yet to be realised in Australia, the changes have raised increased speculation as to the potential for a move towards risk-based pricing from lenders. Although this is yet to be seen, borrowers looking to benefit from changes to the credit reporting environment will need to take steps towards improving and protecting their credit position sooner rather than later. Now more than ever, it’s important for aspiring investors and borrowers to make their repayments on time and remain up-to-date with the factors that could influence their credit score. Those who do this could be in a significantly better credit position when it comes to applying for a loan in future.

In light of recent changes to credit reporting, our finance specialists will be offering an obligation-free consultation for investors looking to learn more about  their credit position. As part of this advice-driven service, our mortgage brokers will run your comprehensive credit report and help you analyse your results, offering key advice on how to maximize your borrowing capacity prior to applying for a loan.