The contents of your credit file is incredibly important. It contains details of your credit history, borrowings, dealings with credit providers and can contain information that is used by lenders to ascertain whether or not they should approve you for a loan or service that requires you to make regular repayments.
If you have ever applied for a credit card, home loan or other form of credit (see list below) – odds are you have a credit history with a reporting agency (such as Veda or Dun & Bradstreet).
This guide will show you how to obtain a free copy of your credit report that will allow you to view your full credit history. It will also explain the importance of managing your credit file proactively, not only to fix any bad credit ratings that already exist, but to help maintain a healthy credit rating that lenders will look upon favourably.
How to do a free credit check and obtain your credit report
Your credit rating and its contents belong to you. It is personal information that details, in depth, your interactions with money, services and in particular your lending history.
While multiple credit reporting agencies may hold different pieces of information on you, the contents of your credit file is 100% your property and in turn gives you the right to request a copy, fee free, whenever you want.
In fact, by law all credit reporting agencies must offer a free version of your credit report within a reasonable period of time (often 10 working days) but are only obliged to do so once every 12 months.
How the credit reporting agencies try to trick you into paying money
These companies use a common trick; they make it hard for you to find the free version on their websites and push you towards the paid credit report instead. The paid version is the exact same report except it is sent to you faster via express post.
Tip: these credit agencies often state that they will provide a free copy of your report only if you have a) been refused credit or b) wish to verify your credit file entries for a given reason. They state they may ask you for proof of getting declined credit; the reality is however this is all just technicalities. You are allow to check your credit file once every 12 months for free, no exceptions.
Here are the two easiest ways to check your credit history for free.
Veda operate a website called MyCreditFile which offers paid and free versions of your credit report.
To order a free copy of your Veda credit history, follow these steps:
- Print off this form and fill it out (http://www.mycreditfile.com.au/dotAsset/541197.pdf)
- Scan a big legible copy of your drivers license, birth certificate or official proof of identity/age card. If possible, send a few items of ID not just one
- And obtain an original copy of a council rates notice, electricity bill, bank statement or other statement/bill that shows your name and residential address on an official piece of mail (think water bills, gas bills, phone and internet bills)
- Submit your application for your credit history report
Once you have your application filled out and ID documents ready, you can either send them via mail, fax or email. It is best to email the request for your report as it will arrive quicker.
- Veda’s mailing address is: PO Box 964 North Sydney, NSW, 2059
- Veda’s email address for reports is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dun & Bradstreet (D&B)
Dun and Bradstreet operate a similar website called CheckYourCredit which offers a fast tracked (paid) and free credit report (standard service).
If you wish to obtain a free D&B report, simply:
- Visit their online submission form here (https://www.checkyourcredit.com.au/MyAccount/Order/StandardService)
- At the bottom half of the page, enter your full name, address, email address and begin the process of signing up for a free account
- You will need to scan (or photo using your iPhone if you are skilled enough) copies of your drivers license, passport and a range of utility bills as previously mentioned.
- They may then ask you to do your credit check online or print off the application and ID scans and mail it directly to them.
Note: D&B will ask you to sign up for an account to begin the process. This is fine but be careful they don’t then try and market to you the paid version later on.
Why order your credit history from two different providers?
Each credit rating provider may have different pieces of information on you. If you wish to get a holistic view of your credit history and see what the banks see, it is wise to check your history with multiple providers.
The reason each provider may have different results is that companies such as big telco’s and bank may use only one provider not the other when doing a credit check on you.
More information on your credit history
Why do lenders and businesses care about your credit rating?
Lenders and service providers are about your credit history for two main reasons.
Firstly they wish to know that you have repaid your previous debts and in a timely matter. They want to ensure you are not in any kind of trouble, financial or otherwise, that may hinder your ability to make timely payments. They also check for blemishes against your credit file that would indicate you have made late payments or similarly defaulted on particular debts or services to the point of receiving a bad credit rating on your record.
Secondly they wish to see what other existing debts you already have – this helps them understand just how much debt you are committed to on a regular basis and whether you have sufficient means to repay all of the debts (including the new money you might be requesting).
In basic terms; are you good for the money? Or you going to do a runner on them?
What shows up on your credit report?
Items that commonly show up on your credit file can include:
- Loans (personal and business)
- Store credit cards
- Mobile phone plans
- Credit cards
- Home loans and mortgages
The file itself will hold key information about your personal interaction with credit. This means things like the number of times you apply for a loan, credit card or mortgage (every application puts another note on your credit file). Your file will also contain information on overdue debts (if you have any) and info on whether or not you have personal, business or commercial credit assigned to your name (for instance if you have a business and a business credit card).
How long will the information stay on my credit file?
Depending on the type of information contained inside your credit report, the contents will remain for different lengths of time:
- Credit enquiries (can I borrow money?) – 5 years
- Payment defaults (overdue accounts) – 5 years
- Serious credit infringements (known as clear outs) – 7 years
- Bankruptcy information will show for 7 years
- Court judgements – 5 years
- Writs and summons – 4 years
- Your personal information such as name, DOB, licence number, address, gender and other history – forever
After the above timeframes, each facet on your report will start to disappear and be removed on or by the anniversary date of when it appeared on your credit file.
Am I able to improve my credit file?
It is an unknown science trying to improve your credit rating; in saying that though, there are definitely some things you can do to improve your credit score with individual providers and give yourself a much higher chance of looking creditworthy overall across the reporting agencies.
Some suggestions that may help you improve your credit file:
- Credit files CAN contain errors. If you believe you have spotted an error, be sure to report it immediately and ask for it to be removed.
- If you see double look ups from the same lender, ask them why and request to have excess viewings on your credit file removed.
- Pay your bills on time, always
- Don’t go applying for heaps of credit cards or loans at once; it looks desperate and lenders in the future may go on to believe you were rejected by multiple providers.
- Stay away from higher risk credit products that lenders look at less favourably; for example it is reported that lenders don’t like seeing Store Credit Cards because it appears that the customer has taken up interest free deals or lines of credit that are high risk.
- Pay any ‘overdue debts’ you find on your credit file and ask the company to list the debt as paid once you do (this will reflect as paid on your credit report).
While the above tips may not categorically improve your credit rating, it will help keep it in good stead. The trick is to proactively manage your credit file; once there is an issue, it is harder to fix than instead simply avoiding in the first place.
How regularly does my credit file get updated?
Information on your credit file is updated and removed as it expires per the time frames listed above in ‘how long does information stay on my credit file’.
The individual credit reporting agency will also update it’s scoring mechanism based on a number of factors including whether there are continuous lookups on your file, are you accumulating defaults and what not. The goal of course is to not have people peeping in your credit file every 2 minutes (the less views the better) and to have a squeaky clean listing with no defaults, late notices or overdue debts outstanding.
Do lenders and service providers need my permission to access my credit report?
Depending upon what part of your credit file a credit provider intends to look at, they will either advise you of their intention to access your file or obtain your consent to access of your file. Typically, their terms and conditions will detail under what circumstances they may access your credit file and you often will say yes without actually realising as it is hidden in the terms and conditions.
23 Responses for Check Your Credit History & Credit Rating For Free
There are two providers of personal credit reports in Australia – Veda and Dun & Bradstreet. The others are aggregators and middle people.
Dun & Bradstreet has just launched dnbcreditreport.com.au where you can order and receive online a free copy of your report in additon to an instant service.
Unlike our competitor we aren’t making it difficult to gain access to a free report.
would like a free copy of my credit history.
I tried Dun and Bradstreet , twice… took 10 days at least each time for the free report.
All I got was a SAMPLE. i.e. not a real report. It had my name and then just a sample of what a report would look like.
I contacted customer service and was told that real reports you had to pay for.
Checkmyfile.com.au only have a subscription service, so you have to enter your credit card details. you can however cancel subscription before the end of the “free” trial but having to give the details is a no no in my opinion.
So all in all , its near impossible to actually get a free copy of your credit report, which is a bit of a catch 22 when trying to figure out why you can’t get a credit card/loan in the first place…
I called them again and this time got a much more pleasant consultant.
apparently if they can not find any information on you then they send a sample of what a report might look like… strange that as a 35+ year old with loans and credit cards that they could not locate any information on me…
This was explained away by stating that there are actually 2 bodies that hold separate, independent information about our credit history. That it is up to the lender which organisation they use, and that the 2 databases are not searched by either Dun and Bradstreet nor Veda…
What does this mean? It means you have to request your credit report from both to get an accurate picture… just glad I didn’t spend the $30 for an instant ” sample
Question. Why do I have to order my credit file by snail mail, with ID and waiting 10 days for the report, when the banks etc seem to be able to do it online within 1 – 2 days?
I paid for a credit report from Dun and Bradstreet ($30), and on the basis of the report applied for a loan. I’d previously had a default, but figured, as it wasnt on the report that it had been more than five years and had been removed. Not so. The loan got knocked back because of the default.
I subsequently got a report from Veda, and sure enough the default was there, still with a few months before it will be removed. The Dun and Bradstreet report missed this and a couple of other credit applications i had made.
I contacted Dun and Bradstreet and as with the previous post, got some nonsense about different databases, and that if the lender doesn’t contact Dun and Bradstreet, then how could they possibly know.
Comically, the guy on the phone at Dun and Bradstreet tried to convince me that this was to my advantage. After all, if a lender only used the Dun and Bradstreet profile then i would not have any problem.
It wasn’t immediately clear, however, why a lender would check such a substandard service that omits details of a persons borrowing history. However, if there is such a lender out there, please let me know.
To keep the joke going, i asked if i could get my $30 refunded in light of the things they had missed on the report. No doing. After all, according to the guy on the phone, I had paid for a service, and they had provided a service. And he wouldn’t even acknowledge that it was a pretty inadequate service.
Anyway, if you want a cheap credit rating ($30), go for Dun and Bradstreet. If you want an ACCURATE CREDIT RATING that is used by lenders, then go for Veda ($36)
The banks pay a premium for fast service. You will be able to pay on the two above mentioned sites if you want and get faster service. I would however recommend instead saving the money, waiting the 10 days and using the saved money to treat yourself to something nice!
Veda has the second largest database in the southern hemisphere, second only to the Australian Tax Office.
Many consumers find that Dun & Bradstreet hold very little information (if any) regarding their credit history. Veda provides a free copy of your credit history within 10 working days. Alternatively if you need it immediately, you can recieve it within 1 working day for $41.95, this fee is to put you at the front of the queue of thousands of requests recieved daily.
For an extra $10, Veda provides a monitoring service. When an update is made to your file they will email you within 24 hours to let you know.
Veda is the only company that provides this kind of service, and it allows you to take control of your credit history, potentially protecting yourself from any fraudelent activity.
They also have a dispute resolution department, in which they will undertake an investigation on your behalf (free of charge) if you are disputing information on your file because you believe it does not belong to you or was listed in error.
I applied for a personal loan at the Commonwealth Bank and was told that Optus have given me a bad credit rating.
Why is it that Veda Advantage (or other credit rating companies) have information on file that is denied by major Telco’s and other companies that have put the record there in the first place?
Is there some kind of disconnect we are not aware of? Is there a delay between when they submit a default on your credit rating to when you can actually see it?
Apparently I am on ‘red alert’ to lenders as a risk. I am unsure what has gone wrong on my credit rating over the years, though something must be drastically wrong to be getting such ‘alerts’.
Veda want me to pay $51 to know why, though I followed your tips on checking my credit history above and managed to get a free copy.
Turns out I had a bad credit rating from a heap of companies that couldn’t get in touch with me when I was overseas for 3 years.
I am so frustrated at been told I have a bad credit rating.
I have no idea what I have done and to find out the issue with my credit history I have to now run around everywhere trying to back track what has gone wrong.
I feel the consumer really comes off second best in many instances of credit ratings. You are guilty until proven innocent sadly.
Please tell me how to do a credit history check. Thank you.
Does any one know for how long your credit rating is impacted for? In other words if you have a credit default, how long before it will be cleared from your credit report with Veda Advantage of D&B?
How do I fix my credit rating? The above shows me how to check my report, however now I have found some issues and wish to correct them.
How do I clean my credit history?
I declared bankruptcy in 2006 and it is visible on my record for 3 years.
I am also told that after this 3 years, my bankruptcy will be visible on my credit rating for a further 3-5 years before it is removed and I am given a clean slate.
How can I be sure it is taken down? Nobody notifies you so I am keen to make sure this happens.
Happens all too often. My biggest tip is to have someone back home manage your mail and bills while you are away. I hear so many stories of people damaging their credit history because they were unreachable for an extended period of time.
Get in touch with a credit repair company or the rating companies themselves and ask to mediate through the issues due to the misunderstanding.
They might be able to help you remove the notes against your credit file.
I think this is quite common.
Often the customer service departments of a company are only able to see outstanding bills and what is owed. This means they are unaware of what the ‘accounts receivable team’ have done with the outstanding bill.
For instance, they could have forwarded to a debt recovery agency which has in turn damaged your rating.
The best thing to do is ring the company, find out how long the bill has been outstanding, request if it has been sent to any collection company and make immediate payment. Once immediate payment is done, you can contact Veda or any of the other credit reporting companies and tell them this issue is now fixed and you would like your history corrected.
After the designated time period (that you mentioned above) – I would do a free credit history check or even a paid credit check so that you can see what the lenders see.
If it is still visible, wait another 6 months and try again.
There are a few agencies that ‘clean’ your credit history.
You can also do this yourself as most credit reporting agencies have a service to fix any unresolved or disputed notes on your credit rating.
The reason many people use a specialist credit cleaning company is they can methodically work towards a positive outcome and will fight until it is completely deleted from your credit history.
May be worth the money depending on just how bad your rating is and how badly it is effecting the rest of your life (e.g. you can’t get a mortgage even though you can rightly afford it).
Best bet is to follow the exact steps above. This will get you a free copy of your credit report.
If it all gets too hard or you struggle to find a free version (as they often change the links) – simply spend the $50 or so and get a paid version. It is probably worth the money if you are having credit problems.
Contact the companies that have listed the bad ratings against your report, fix up any oustanding issues you have with them (e.g. pay the invoice or what ever it was) and ask them for confirmation this is now paid.
Then submit a dispute to Veda for requesting the removal of the above bad credit notes.
Veda have a ‘credit dispute’ section on their site that is very helpful for this.
I am a Credit Repair Advisor and these comments seem to reflect what we have found to be the general consensus out there with this issue – that finding out what’s on your credit rating isn’t always straightforward, let alone fixing any issues that arise once it comes back.
To clarify – yes – if you want a full picture you will need to order a report from both Veda Advantage and Dun & Bradstreet. If a sample is sent back, this will mean the agency does not hold a credit report for you.
If you are Tasmanian you may also need to order a report from TASCOL. You can do this for free and it will be sent within 10 working days, or you can pay for it to be sent earlier.
If you find anything that you believe is unfair or is inaccurate, then you will need to request the listing’s removal with your Credit Provider (or debt collection agency if the debt has been sold on).
Depending on the type of credit listing, and in some cases the Credit Provider in question – this could be an easy process or it could require lots of investigation and knowledge of the relevant legislation to make a good case for removal (which is where a reputable credit repair company can come in). If it is found and demonstrated that the Credit Provider has not adhered to the relevant legislation necessary when placing the listing on your credit file, then it should be removed.