All You Need to Know About Free Credit Checks

Aug 2, 2016

Australian law states you can request to see your credit report from a credit reporting bureau free if:

  • In the last 90 days, you have had an application for credit declined
  • You have previously asked a creditor or the credit bureau to update inaccurate information, and wish to check this has happened
  • You have not checked your credit report in the past year outside of these circumstances

When you request to see your credit report, is it really free, or is it something that is too good to be true?

If you ask to see your credit report under the circumstances listed above, then yes, they are completely free. Outside of the above circumstances, you may be able to find services that allow you to access your credit report free. While you won’t pay anything for these services, you may need to consider additional factors, such as the reasons behind something being free.

How can credit bureaus offer free services and credit checks?

In some cases, including with Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet, Australia’s two leading credit referencing bureaus, the credit bureau offers a free service as well as premium credit checking services. Equifax, with Get Credit Score, and Dun & Bradstreet, with Check My File, do this under different trading names. They may generate a significant income from advertising on their websites. They could have partnership deals in place with other businesses. Depending on the credit bureau you use for your free credit check, you might find that you can access additional services or features. Check whether these are also free, otherwise you could incur charges without realizing.

Being Careful with the Information You Provide

While you will need to provide some personal details when requesting a free credit check in order for the credit bureau to verify your identity, you will have control over how that information is used later. As with completing any submission form or application, you will be asked if you are happy to be contacted by carefully selected partners and other third parties. Ensure you choose the preferences you wish so you aren’t targeted with emails and leaflets advertising products you have no interest in.

Am I Safe?

When you ask to see your credit report you will be doing so with Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet, or Experian, or with companies operated by these credit referencing bureaus. In terms of your information being safe, you have nothing to worry about. If anything, by taking the opportunity to check your credit report and potentially identifying where you have been a victim of identity fraud, you are making yourself safer. What you should consider is if you allow your personal information to be passed onto the carefully selected partners as mentioned earlier, you might not know where your personal details are going after that.

Is My Free Credit Check Accurate?

You are legally entitled to see your full credit report under the circumstances highlighted at the beginning of the article. Your free credit check is not a partial report, nor are certain snippets of information withheld from you. When you see your credit report free, you are seeing the full reality of the information held by that specific credit bureau against your name at that time. While you do have the opportunity to use premium services from the credit bureaus if you are interested in additional features and benefits, the detail you see on your free credit check is full and accurate.

Using Free Credit Reports

Not checking your credit report is dangerous. You could be falling victim to identity fraud without realizing it, and could have thousands of dollars worth of debt against your name that have nothing to do with you. If you do not request to see your credit report following a declined application or because you have requested information be corrected, you should take advantage of your entitlement to view your credit report once every 12 months.

Disclaimer:  This article contains general comments and recommendations only.  This article has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before taking any action you should consider the appropriateness of the comments made in the article, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If this article relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular credit product you should obtain and consider the relevant disclosure documents before applying for the product.

 

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