If you notice these things in your credit record, you might be the victim of identify fraud:
- accounts you never applied for
- defaults you didn't know about
- credit enquiries you didn't agree to.
These are different from normal errors, as they are usually unconnected to your other credit history, eg accounts with lenders you are not familiar with.
Your rights: If you think you are the victim of identity fraud, you have the right to freeze/suppress your credit information for 10 days. These rights are protected under the Credit Reporting Privacy Code.
If you ask one of the three companies to freeze your history, all three will freeze your history.
Freezing/suppressing is when the credit reporting company cannot give out your credit information. Anyone who asks during this time is told your information is suppressed. This tells them someone else may be applying for credit in your name.
If you want to apply for credit while your information is frozen, you can ask the credit reporting company to give access to a specific person or organisation, eg a potential landlord.
If you think the identity fraud is still happening after 10 days, you can ask for the freeze/suppression to be extended.
For more in-depth information on identity fraud, see the Privacy Commission website.
If you believe you're at risk of identity fraud(external link) — Privacy Commissioner
If you are having any other problems with your credit history, eg someone accessed your report without consent, follow these steps — you might not need to do both:
- Contact the credit reporting agency: They should investigate any complaints. Talk to them first.
- Complain to the Privacy Commissioner: If you cannot resolve the issue with the credit reporting company, the Privacy Commissioner can help.
1. Contact the credit reporting company
Whatever your problem, contacting or complaining to the reporting company is your first step. Before you make contact, read our information on:
- your rights
- how to complain.
You have rights — and credit reporting companies have rules to follow — under the Privacy Act and the Credit Reporting Privacy Code.
- What can be held: Credit reporting companies can hold specific information about you, eg credit accounts, repayment history, default payments, insolvency applications.
- Time limits: Time limits exist for your credit information, eg four to five years for most information.
- Who can access it: Only certain agencies and companies can access your report for specific reasons, eg lenders considering your loan application.
- Consent for access: Your consent is needed in most situations, eg potential landlords or employers, lenders. Some don't need your consent, eg debt collectors.
- Identity fraud: Ask to have your credit information suppressed if you think you're the victim of identity fraud.
- You have access: You can ask to see what information is held on you.
- Errors corrected: You can dispute errors on your credit report.
- Complaints: You can complain to the credit reporting company if you think your rights have been breached.
Credit reporting: Consumer rights(external link) — Privacy Commissioner
How to complain
Credit reporting companies must have an internal complaints process. If they haven't made this clear to you, ask them what it is.
A free financial mentor can help you contact the company, or talk to the company for you. Start by contacting the free helpline MoneyTalks.
Contact information(external link) — MoneyTalks
Before you complain:
- Gather proof, eg bank statements, credit contracts, emails and letters.
- Think about what you will say, make notes with points you want to cover.
- Decide your ideal outcome, egincorrect information removed.
During the complaint:
- Use the word complaint — make sure it's treated as a complaint and not as feedback.
- Take notes — include dates and what was said. If you need to take your complaint to the Privacy Commissioner, this will be helpful proof.
- Stick to the facts — explain the problem and share any proof you collected.
- Say what you want — explain your ideal outcome.
- Take time out — if it gets heated, or you want to think about their response, arrange a time to call or email back. Explain you need time to digest the conversation.
2. Privacy Commissioner
If you’re unable to resolve a privacy dispute, you can complain to the Privacy Commissioner.
Making a complaint(external link) — Privacy Commissioner
Get support at any point from:
- Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB): A free, independent service, run by volunteers. CAB can advise you on your consumer rights and obligations, in person, by phone, or online.
A CAB near you(external link) — Citizens Advice Bureau
- MoneyTalks: This helpline gives free budgeting advice to individuals, family and whānau. Financial mentors can help you understand your financial situation, organise your debt and plan for the future. They can also put you in touch with a local budgeting service and help with issues you're having with lenders. Phone 0800 345 123, or use live chat, email or text, if you prefer.
Contact information(external link) — MoneyTalks