I have over the past short while seen a number of issues which are vast and varied in relation to the Credit Reporting of Individuals, Some issues from the credit reporting agencies and some issues from Debt Collectors.
I think it's time that we look into the way they can report information, Maybe setup an organisation which looks into instances where incorrect information is displayed. As the process can be tedious and drawn out, whilst in the meantime the inaccurate information could be affecting your daily life.
Our Credit Reports provide a tool for a number of service providers to assess the risk of offering you the services that you require. These can be anything from Rental Properties, Bank Accounts, Power Companies, Telecommunications companies, and of course the obvious lending. Inaccurate information, therefore, can have a devastating impact in your everyday life.
Your credit history can be listed with all of the following credit reporting agencies. Veda Advantage, Centrix, Dun and Bradstreet. All three report your history, your applications or inquiries, your defaults (if any), Any insolvencies, some display information about property ownership.
Dun and Bradstreet, is also a Debt Collector, so you would think the information was always accurate. But it isn't always the case. With the release of www.creditsimple.co.nz it provides an easy and free way to check your credit report, and report any inaccuracies that are displayed. They seem to be fairly quick to make adjustments I hear.
Veda Advantage, is probably New Zealand's largest reporting agency and by far the most common. They also provide options to obtain your information, However, they aren't very quick to act on free requests. There process is long, drawn out and tedious for correcting information.
Centrix, Whilst I haven't had too many dealings with them or seen too much from them, They are also another reporting agency. They provide in-depth history including reports from energy companies. They seem very approachable but I am not too sure what it's like for an individual.
All three are required to collect, hold, and release accurate information. This is where a big grey cloud is over the industry.
I was given someone's Centrix report recently which seemed to tie 4 others to him. He had no idea who these 4 were but the information that it displayed about these people were incredible, including the financial institutions providing finance, companies associated with the other individuals, property owned by the other individuals and even reporting one was Bankrupt. The person whose report this was about had no idea who these others were. It appears they were real people but not him.
Obviously, this caused a lot of grief for this person trying to obtain a loan, hp or other such thing when it appears his credit was good, but at least one of the other three had questionable credit reports affecting his own. This is currently being looked into by Centrix.
I have also seen on other reports instances where dates have been changed to get around the credit listing legislations, in some cases prior to the application for the credit. Some instances where a debt has been lodged through the court and a court order imposed, and it being paid but not showing as paid on a credit report. These are of course responsibilities of the Debt collection agencies themselves. But the credit reporting facilities have an obligation to make sure the information they hold is accurate.
The amount of effect that the credit reports have can be immense, and therefore it is a requirement that the information held is accurate. In general terms, it is far too hard to correct information in your credit report. The credit report agencies sometimes go back to the debt collector that listed the debt, but the debt collector doesn't want to change the information despite knowingly listing false information.
A new agency should be setup and firstly look into how widespread the issue is. It shouldn't take 6 Months, 2 Years, or whatever to correct any issues on your credit report, that you didn't make. This is the individuals life, and livelihood that can be affected by these issues. Secondly, the agency should make it easy to report an issue, and they should be able to correct the issue in a timely manner for the individual
A bad credit report which could be a surprise to you could even impact on your ability to obtain a Job.
I suggest you often request the information in your credit reports frequently. The www.creditsimple.co.nz is a great tool, the other two organisations have similar ways of getting information. Just not as readily available as the Credit Simple website. If you look often enough you can even protect yourself from Identity Fraud.
Article written by D Blair, Hamilton. Image by the Author