Credit Checks and Records 

What is a credit report?

Your credit record is a summary of your history regarding credit, debt, and repayment.
It will include:

  • any unpaid debt you have, or have had, in the last five years if: 
    • the amount of the debt was $100 or more, 
    • the debt was more than 30 days overdue and 
    • the creditor took steps to recover the money.
  • whether you have been insolvent
  • information on your repayment history from the last 24 months (even if you have not missed any repayments) e.g. on credit purchases.
  • Any court judgments relating to you

Overdue or unpaid fines and reparation aren’t recorded on your credit report but can be included when a credit check is done.

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What is a credit rating?

A credit rating is a score which reflects an individual’s or organisation’s reliability when it comes to paying off debts. The rating is based on information held by credit rating agencies like illion (formerly known as Dun and Bradstreet), and Standard and Poor.

illion uses a number range from 0 – 1000 where a score of higher than 600 is a “good” credit rating. Standard & Poor (which rates organisations) uses letters to represent ratings (“AAA” is the highest rating and “D” means the organisation is likely to default on loans).

Your personal credit rating is based on your credit history. If you have never applied for credit you will probably not have a credit rating.

If you have a “good” credit rating you can potentially use it to negotiate a better deal when applying for credit.

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Who can access my credit record or credit rating?

You are entitled to access your own credit information (see the next question). A credit reporting agency is allowed to disclose your credit report to debt collectors, people involved in court proceedings against you, and certain government agencies, without requiring your consent.

Other individuals and organisations can only access your credit record if you give them permission to do so.

The situations in which someone may ask your permission to see your credit record include:
  • when you apply for credit/a loan 
  • when you sign up with a utilities provider (e.g. phone, electricity) 
  • when you apply to begin a tenancy
  • when you apply for a job

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How do I check my credit record?

It’s a good idea to know what’s on your credit report, especially if you are going to be applying for credit. You have a legal right to free access to your credit report.

There are three credit reporting companies operating in New Zealand so if you want to check your record or correct any information about you, you need to contact them all:

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How much will it cost to get a copy of my credit record?

You are entitled to a free copy of your credit record – just make sure to choose the free option when you contact each company (it can be hard to find the free option- check out related links on this page for direct links to requesting the free copies).

If you need the report in less than five days, you can pay a fee to have your application 'fast tracked'. A credit reporting company is not allowed to charge you more than $10 (including GST) to fast-track your credit report application.

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I paid off my overdue debts, so why are they still showing up on my credit report?

Your credit report can show any defaults (i.e. where a payment was overdue for more than 30 days, and the lender took steps to recover the outstanding amount) from up to five years ago – even if you subsequently paid the amount in full.

Information about transactions where you did not default on payment can only be kept on your credit record for up to 24 months.

If you have been bankrupt but it has been discharged (has come to an end), a credit reporting agency can only continue to report the bankruptcy for four years after the discharge, and must not keep information about it five years after the discharge.

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Should my credit report include a debt that is in dispute?

Your credit report should not include any debt that is in dispute. If it does, you can notify the credit reporting agency and ask them to correct the information (see below).

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What can I do if my credit record has wrong information in it?

If you believe that the information provided on your credit history is incorrect, you can contact the report provider, explain that their information is not accurate and ask to have the incorrect details removed.

Each agency has its own procedures for customers to follow if they want to query a credit record. These will be on the agency’s website:

Credit reporting agencies are required by law to ensure that the information they hold about you is correct. If you notify them of incorrect information on your credit record, they have to investigate. In the meantime, they must either suppress the information or flag the disputed information to show it is being checked. They should get back to you within 20 working days to let you know whether the information will be changed, and if not, why not.

More about this is on the Privacy Commissioner website.

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How do I make a complaint about a credit reporting agency?

The Credit Report Privacy Code governs how credit reporting agencies should behave when collecting, storing and giving access to personal credit information. For example if a credit reporting agency over-charges you for an urgent credit report, their website information about your right to a free credit report is misleading, or they will not correct inaccurate credit information about you) then they could be in breach of the Code.

You can make a complaint about a credit reporting agency by using their internal  complaints process:

If the issue is not resolved through the agency's complaints process, you can make a complaint to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. You can call them on 0800 803 909, send an email or contact either their Wellington or  Auckland office (the contact details are on their website).

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What can I do if I think someone is using my identity to access credit?

If you think you might be a victim of identity fraud then you can ask credit reporters to ‘freeze’ your credit record. You can also ask for a ‘freeze’ if you lose your credit card or other item which someone could use to commit identity fraud.

Once your report is ‘frozen’ it will be more difficult for someone else to get credit in your name. You can find more detail about how the process works on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner website.

If you are worried about identity theft, you can find more information, including identifying whether you are a victim of identity theft and how to protect yourself against it, on our Identity theft page.

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How can I ensure I have a good credit record?

Firstly make sure you meet all of your payment obligations. Defaults will remain on your credit record for five years, while missed payments will remain for two years.

If you are having trouble repaying your debt or paying your bills, seek help as soon as possible. The sooner you seek help the easier it will be. You can find out more about managing your debt on our Credit and Debt management page.

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Will I be affected overseas if I have a bad credit record in New Zealand?

If a credit provider overseas wants to know your credit history, they may be able to make an application to see your credit record. This might happen if you apply for a mortgage, a job, or to rent a home overseas.

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I am interested in renting a property and the property agent wants to do a credit check on me first. Who pays for this?

Usually it is the landlord or letting agent who pays for credit checks on prospective tenants, although letting agents may pass on that cost to the tenant as part of their letting fee. However, you can request your own credit report for free.

More information about fees and costs in relation to renting is on our Other renting costs page.