Understanding Your Credit Report
Learn about the features of your Experian Credit Report
The first time you access your Experian Credit Report, you’ll see it contains a number of abbreviations and different sections. We’ve set out here some information to help you read it.
We’ve put together a fictional Experian Credit Report belonging to a character called Joe Citizen. While Joe’s not real, the way his personal information is presented and the terminology used is just like what you’ll find on your own credit report.
At the top of your credit report is your personal information. This section gives more information about who you are, including your gender, name, and date of birth.
As well as showing Joe’s basic information, we can also see his addresses held by the Experian bureau. These may not be all of the places Joe’s lived at, but rather all of the addresses that credit providers have shared with us.
Your credit score is perhaps one of the most important sections of your credit report, as it shows you how things are tracking at a glance. Your Experian credit score is a number out of 1,000.
The orange and red boxes to the left give some suggestions as to the negative factors which could be having an impact on your score.
Joe’s credit score of 437 is lower than 650, which is typically considered to be a good Experian score. As his credit report tells us, this is due in part to the fact that he has a reported default and has a few outstanding payments for some of his accounts. More information about the default and overdue payments can be found further down Joe’s credit report.
The Consumer Credit History section gives information about your accounts. If you’ve got a mortgage, credit card, or mobile phone or other kind of credit agreement, you’ll see the details about your account here.
This ‘Current Status’ column gives some basic information about whether or not you’re up-to-date with your payments, while the ‘Worst Status’ column shows the worst situation each particular account has been in over the last two years.
When it comes to interpreting this section, a green tick is what you’re aiming for. It shows that your payments are up-to-date and have been made on time.
Taking a look at Joe’s credit report, it’s clear that his credit card account with ABC Mutual is currently up-to-date, but in the last two years he’s missed four payments to the account.
With his mortgage with XYZ Bank, at one stage Joe defaulted on the debt, but his current status shows us that the account is now reported as current – meaning Joe has caught up on his overdue payments.
If you’re 60 days or more late in making a payment for a debt worth more than $150, your credit provider might issue you a formal default notice. Before they do, they’ll get in touch with you to give you an opportunity to make the payment.
If you default on a debt, and your default is reported to the Experian bureau, it’ll be reflected on your credit report using a range of letters as shorthand.
The ‘Consumer Credit Enquiries’ section of your Experian Credit Report gives information about any applications you’ve made for credit in the last five years. As well as the name of the organisation you applied to and the amount of the credit you’ve sought.
Your application for credit doesn’t need to be successful to appear on your credit report.
In March 2015, Joe applied to 123 Telco for credit in connection with a telecommunications service, but the credit report doesn’t tell us the credit amount he applied for. By contrast, we can see that Joe applied for a loan of $12,500 with XYZ bank in June 2014.
This section of your Experian Credit Report gives information about the payments you’ve made over the last two years that have been reported by your credit providers to the bureau.
It’s worth noting that not all of your credit providers will report your repayment history to us.
A green tick for a month shows that you made your payment for that month on time and a number denotes that you’ve missed making a payment to the account for that number of months. If you’re more than seven months behind in your payments, only a number seven is shown.
We can see that from April 2014 to June 2015, Joe made all payments to his mortgage with XYZ Bank on time. However, he then fell more than seven months behind on his payments, leading to a series of defaults, and the worst status ever of his account. Now the account’s status is listed as ‘C’. This tells us that sinceMarch2016, Joe has now caught up with his payments and the account is up-to-date.
In this section, you can find out more information about the defaults mentioned earlier in your credit report, including how much you owed when the account defaulted.
In Joe’s case, he owed $65,000 on his mortgage with XYZ Bank, and a default was issued. We can see from his credit report that he then made a payment that reduced the defaulted amount to $30,000 in February 2016. In March 2016, he made another payment which reduced his debt to $0.
If one of your credit providers believes you’ve committed or attempted fraud in the way that you have applied for credit or fraudulently evaded meeting your obligations in relation to the credit you have, or your actions indicate that you don’t intend to comply with your obligations and they’ve tried unsuccessfully to contact you about these things over 6 months ago, they may report a Serious Credit Infringement by you to us.
We can see from Joe’s credit report that in June 2014, EFG Bank reported a Serious credit Infringement by Joe.
This section of your credit report gives information that is publicly available about your financial situation, including information about whether you’ve been made bankrupt or have had any successful court actions taken against you.
Joe’s credit report shows that he had a bankruptcy order filed against him in 2014 which has now been discharged. He also had a court action taken against him in the District Court of New South Wales in the same year, to recover a debt of $7,000.
In certain circumstances you can request the Experian bureau to add a short factual statement to your credit report that reports for example, a possible compromise of your personal identity information (as Joe has done). This will then be visible to any organisation that is allowed to see your credit report.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re concerned about someone stealing your identity, you should consider asking for a temporary ban to be placed on your credit report.
Joe made a personal statement in February 2015 to explain that he’d lost his wallet the previous week and to flag that he may have been a victim of identity theft. The aim of this is make anyone looking at his credit file aware that unusual activity reflected on his credit report might have been fraudulent.
Your credit report contains a lot of personal information about you and your finances, which is why access to it is strictly controlled under privacy law.
The File Access Record completes the information on your Experian Credit Report about which entities have viewed your credit report in the last five years.
XYZ Bank viewed Joe’s Experian credit file after he made an application for credit in June 2014. ABC Mutual viewed it in November 2014 because they were concerned Joe might not be able to make his payments on time, and so conducted a credit review. We also viewed Joe’s credit report in July 2014 when he asked for a copy of his credit report to be sent to him.