- Comprehensive credit reporting information is likely to be increasingly disclosed on credit files over the next six to 12 months. It is therefore important to raise consumer awareness of the new corrections provisions.
- The corrections process introduces the ‘first responder’ obligation. This requires one organisation (the first organsiation to respond to the consumer’s correction request) to process that request – even if the error did not originate with that organisation.
Australia’s credit reporting system was significantly overhauled when amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (‘the Act’) took effect in March 2014. While the primary focus of these amendments has been the introduction of comprehensive credit reporting, other key amendments introduced new corrections processes. With comprehensive credit reporting information likely to be increasingly disclosed on credit files over the next six to 12 months, it is important to raise consumer awareness of the new corrections provisions.
The previous Act required a complaint to be dealt with by whichever organisation made the mistake. While consumers who had incorrect information on their credit report have always had access to a range of no-cost processes to get it corrected, these processes were perceived as involving a ‘complaints merry-go-round’ (Australian Law Reform Commission Report 108, paragraph 59.99) because it was possible a consumer may have to deal with more than one organisation to correct the error. In a credit reporting exchange, information is regularly exchanged by credit providers (CPs) and credit reporting bodies (CRBs) and disseminated throughout an exchange to other CPs and CRBs (examples of CPs include banks, building societies, telecommunications and utilities companies. CRBs include organisations such as Veda, Dun & Bradstreet and Experian).
Despite the volume of information flowing through this information exchange, the chances of an error occurring are really quite small. Nonetheless, when an error does occur – for instance, if a default is incorrectly reported by one organisation – this may have an impact on dealings the consumer has with subsequent organisations.