Australian consumers need to be extremely careful with their repayments over the Christmas period as paying even ONE DAY late on some accounts could mean their credit rating is weakened, warns a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting.
Graham Doessel, Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers, a national firm which helps clients dispute their credit rating, says regardless of the size of the Christmas credit card bill – delaying payment on licensed credit could prove to be a long term credit disaster and reduce the chances of securing a home loan.
“The majority of Australian consumers seem unaware that as of December last year if you default on making a licenced credit payment by the due date, it is noted, and from March 2014, this information will show as part of your credit history for two years,” he warns.
This new data set of repayment history information (RHI) is part of amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and is intended to capture those individuals who are at risk with credit.
Mr Doessel says it is unclear the weight lenders will give to RHI when assessing credit worthiness.
“We don’t know precisely how many notations will be too many and mean credit refusal. We also don’t know if having as little one late payment notation will move the individual to a higher ‘risk’ category with lenders, which will mean they are charged more in interest,” he says.
March 2014 will see a new Credit Reporting Code of Conduct come into force, which will include a probable grace period of 5 days for late payments, but until the time frame is set – there is no room for mistakes.
5 Tips For Saving Credit File Over Christmas
1. Watch out for identity theft.
Be aware fraudsters are out in full force at Christmas. Don’t be lax with personal information, and take care online to minimise the risk to your credit rating from misuse by identity thieves.
2. Stay organised.
With the busy lead up to Christmas, repayment of your accounts should still remain a priority. Develop a system so you don’t forget – or you will pay the price later. Try to pay at least a couple of days before the due date to allow for any systemic delays with banks or BPay.
3. Pre-pay your bills before you go away.
Don’t get caught out with a bill sitting at home unpaid while you’re away – pre-empt any bills which may come up during that time period.
4. Spend within your budget.
Whilst using credit at Christmas fosters the ‘pay later’ mentality – remember that you will pay at some point for what you spend now -so consider what you can really afford.
5. Police your Credit Provider.
Credit Providers can also be affected by Christmas. The volume of transactions may increase while staff decrease, putting pressure on systems.Check statements – make sure they are correct, and also keep abreast of which bills are due and when. If you notice you haven’t received a bill and you believe it’s due, you should chase it up.
Christmas is also a good time for people to check their credit rating, to ensure the accuracy of their information. They can request a copy of their credit file at no charge, from one or more of the credit reporting agencies and a credit report will be sent within 10 working days. Contact MyCRA Lawyers on 1300 667 218.
About MyCRA Lawyers: MyCRA Lawyers is an Incorporated Legal Practice focused on credit file consultancy and credit disputes. MyCRA Lawyers means business when it comes to helping those disadvantaged by credit rating mistakes.