There are three steps you can take if you have been declined credit:
1. Find out why
When you apply for credit either with a phone or utility company or a loan with a bank or finance company, they generally assess both the information on your application as well as information on your credit report against their own lending policies to make a decision on whether they will give you credit.
As part of completing your application, you will have given a lender, phone or utility company permission to view your credit report held by a credit reporting body such as Equifax, Australia's largest consumer credit reporting agency.
There are a number of factors that may result in an application for credit being refused including:
- Level of income and other resources to meet the loan repayments
- Number of other loans and other financial commitments you have
- How secure your employment is
- Your credit history which can include information such as previous bankruptcy, defaults, serious credit infringements, high number of credit applications and poor repayment history.
If you have been declined credit and the information on your Equifax credit report was a factor, the lender, phone or utility company will give you details of the credit reporting body they used. If it was Equifax, the first step in understanding why your credit report has contributed to you being declined credit, is to obtain a copy of your Equifax credit report.
It's important to know that Equifax does not decide who should get credit, however, the information we provide may form part of the lenders' decision making. What Equifax can do is to help you understand the information on your credit report.
What is a credit report?
Your credit report holds information relating to your credit history. If you've ever applied for credit or a loan it is likely you will have credit information held by a credit reporting body like Equifax. Credit can come in many forms. Along with credit cards, personal loans and mortgages, credit also includes mobile phone, electricity and gas contracts as well as store and rental finance.
Your credit report may help lenders, phone and utility companies get a clearer picture of your credit worthiness. It may help them understand your current credit commitments and how likely you are to be able to make repayments on future loans.
Your credit report includes information such as:
- Personal details such as your name, address and date of birth
- Consumer credit information
- Credit enquiries (applications you have made for credit for personal use)
- Credit account information - Date account opened and closed, type of credit account, credit limit
- Repayment history information
- Overdue debts like payment defaults (paid and unpaid)
- Serious credit infringements
- Publicly available information such as personal insolvency information, court writs and judgements and directorship information can also be included as part of your consumer credit information on your credit report.
- When you ask for a copy of your credit report we will also provide you with any commercial credit information such as credit enquiries and overdue debts like payment defaults that we hold on you.
Getting a copy of your Equifax credit report can help you understand where you stand when it comes to applying for credit. It is important to check your Equifax credit report regularly to ensure it is accurate.
2. Get your Equifax credit report
If you have been declined credit you are entitled obtain a free Equifax credit report if you apply within 90 days of being declined and provide evidence that a credit provider has declined your application for credit. The free Equifax credit report will be dispatched to you within ten working days. The free service includes an Equifax credit report only and does not include credit alerts or your Equifax credit score or the contributing factors impacting your Equifax credit score.
If you would like your Equifax credit score to help you identify the items on your credit report that may impact your credit worthiness, please visit the Equifax website.
You will need to have the following information handy:
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Your driver's licence number
- Your current residential address
- Your previous addresses
- Your current employer or a previous employer
- Name of the organisation to which you last applied for credit
Only you may request a copy of your own Equifax credit report. For security purposes, prior to receiving your Equifax credit report you will be asked to verify your identity.
3. Improve your credit report to get credit in the future
There are two things you can do to help improve your credit profile:
Check your credit report to see if the information is accurate
Equifax takes reasonable steps to ensure that your Equifax credit report is accurate. However, as we rely on information provided by a number of different sources, errors can occur. It's important that you check your Equifax credit report and let us know if there are any administrative errors such as an incorrect date of birth, or a misspelling of your name or street address. You should also check that the credit information listed on your Equifax credit report, such as an overdue debt or enquiry is accurate. If there are inaccuracies on your credit report, it's important that you have them corrected. You can do this at no charge. Visit our Personal Credit Repair section for more information.
What's more, if you think you've been the victim of identity theft and your details have been used fraudulently check out our tips on what to do if you think your identity has been stolen.
Be careful of ‘credit repair' style organisations
If you are finding it difficult to get credit, think twice before paying for the services of a company that claims they can "repair" your credit report/history. Some companies claim to be able to remove negative information from your credit report and charge you to do so. This can often cost over $1,000.
If you have inaccurate information on your Equifax credit report you can lodge a correction request with the relevant credit provider or credit reporting body and they will investigate for free and correct the information if it is inaccurate.
You should also note that Equifax will not remove information from credit reports unless that information is erroneous. The fact that information is inaccurate or wrong does not mean it must be deleted. If it can be corrected, it will be corrected rather than deleted.
Tips to help you improve your credit profile
- Pay your loans and bills on time - Consider setting up direct debits and schedule loan repayments for your pay day.
- Keep track of your credit commitments - Do your homework before applying for credit and keep track of your credit commitments. Making a number of applications within a short space of time will be recorded on your file and is not always looked upon positively by lenders, as it may be an indicator that you're in credit stress.
- If you move house, notify lenders - advise lenders, phone and utility providers of your new address so they can re-direct bills to your new address. If you don't pay these bills, a credit infringement or overdue debt could be listed on your credit report.
- If you are having trouble meeting repayments - talk to your credit provider who may assist.
- Keep track of your credit record - proactively manage your personal credit report by regularly checking your Equifax credit report and monitor changes through credit alerts.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstance before acting on it, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a finance professional such as an adviser.