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What is an Australian credit bureau?

If you’ve ever owned a credit card, taken out a loan or applied for a mobile phone plan, then you’ve built up a credit history in the form of a credit report. Who pulls all this info? Australian credit bureaus.  

Your credit history reveals how you use credit. Lenders or credit providers then arm themselves with this info to determine your creditworthiness and help them decide whether to approve your loan application. 

Knowing how credit bureaus work can give you a good idea of your credit health when thinking about applying for a loan. 

What is an Australian credit bureau? 

Credit bureaus, sometimes called credit reporting agencies collect a lot of info about your finances and how you’ve used credit. This includes details like current loans, loan inquiries, defaults, bankruptcies and if you pay your bills on time. This info is what appears in your credit report and contributes to your credit score.  

Australian credit bureaus provide this unbiased assessment, then make it available to banks, credit providers and lenders. These guys will take a good peek at your credit report to help them get a picture of your credit history and understand whether you’ll be able to make repayments.  

It’s important to note that lenders don’t solely use your credit report or credit score when deciding to approve or reject a loan application.

Who are the big 3 credit bureaus in Australia? 

There are three main credit bureaus in Australia – Equifax, Experian and illion.  

Equifax 

Equifax is a global credit bureau and the biggest of the 3 Australian credit bureaus. The credit report Equifax provide to lenders is based on information reported to them by credit providers. The credit score is calculated using their credit scoring algorithm, which is loosely based around attributes like the number and type of accounts you own, the length of your credit history and your payment history. 

Experian 

This Australian credit bureau has built a reputation as the most data-driven of the 3 credit bureaus. The credit score you receive from Experian is determined by a statistical algorithm that uses past events to predict future behaviour. In a nutshell, they look at a number of factors such as your credit enquires, what product/s you’ve applied for, your repayment history and credit limits. 

illion 

Rounding off the top 3, illion generate credit scores based on whether you’re reliable with paying bills. Things that could damage your credit score include not paying your bills on time, failing to pay bills and applying for credit too often. 

What kind of information does an Australian credit bureau collect? 

Credit reporting agencies collect both credit-related and non-credit information from financial institutions, banks, credit card companies, even utilities and phone companies. To expand on what we’ve already touched on, the data gathered may also include: 

  • Amount of credit available and in use 
  • Types of credit accounts 
  • Number of credit inquiries 
  • Records of bankruptcy or repossessions 
  • Outstanding debts in collection 

An Australian credit bureau will also collect personal information such as your address, employment history and salary history. So it’s important to check your credit report regularly to make sure they have your information right. 

How is it that I can have three different credit scores? 

Equifax, Experian and illion use a variety of sources to obtain your financial information, and not all credit providers will report to all three credit bureaus. Each credit bureau also uses a slightly different algorithm (scoring model) to determine credit scores, and they keep the exact details a secret. 

This is why, if you were to request a credit report from each of these agencies, your reports won’t be identical and may contain different information. It’s also likely your credit score won’t be the same, because credit bureaus have different maximum scores and scales. Equifax will score you out of 1,200, while Experian and illion’s scoring is out of 1,000.  

To make it even more confusing, Equifax, Experian and illion all classify your credit scores differently. For example, Equifax consider a good credit score to be between 622 – 725, while for Experian it’s 625 – 699, and illion between 700 – 799. 

Despite the different credit scores, it’s nothing to worry about. Your creditworthiness won’t be impacted as long as your info is accurate. If you find any info that is incorrect on your credit report, you should get in touch with the relevant Australian credit bureau to have the error adjusted. 

Do the three Australian credit bureaus decide whether I get a loan? 

Experian, Equifax and Illion don’t actually make lending decisions. Their main job is to pull together information about your credit risk and make it available to lenders. The decision to approve or reject your loan application ultimately lies with the lender. 

Get your free credit report 

You can request a copy of your credit report for free every 3 months from an Australian credit bureau.  

It’s worth getting a copy at least once a year to keep on top of your credit score and to make sure the information they record is correct. 

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