I checked my credit report (and you won’t believe what happens next!)
I got asked for ID last week at the liquor store and I was shamefully delighted about it, earning me the disgust of the very young checkout assistant. And while she might be in need of an eye check, once I stopped waving my ID in her face with glee it occurred to me that she probably thinks I am just a sad old lady eying up forty.
While this might be true, I don’t miss my twenties. I might miss the arrogance that made me think I could wear double denim and get away with it, but I don’t miss having no idea whatsoever when it came to money.
Back then, I followed the ‘head in sand’ method regarding credit and debt. If I couldn’t see the terrible state my finances were in, then it wasn’t an issue. Which is probably how my student loan rampaged out of control for several years, like a three-year-old high on sugar.
Almost twenty years later, as I think about purchasing an overpriced house so I too can discuss mortgages at dinner parties, it occurred to me I should probably do the truly adult thing and check what my credit report says. And because I am an adult, I did this while drinking wine.
One of our ever helpful government websites has all the information you need to get your credit report. And it’s important to note that while there are multiple credit reporting agencies in Australia, you have to contact all of them in order to check your record or correct your information. Sounds painful, but trust me, if I can do it one-handed while swigging on Pinot Gris, it’s easy.
Your credit report will include your payment history for hire purchases, car finance, mortgages and credit cards. In addition, it doesn’t just note when you’ve been given credit in the past two years – it can also state if you paid it back when you were supposed to. And if you had debt, didn’t pay it back and got chased for it, even if you’ve now paid off it off in full this can appear on your credit record for up to five years.
While your report isn’t available to the general public it is available to companies that want to check you’re reliable before giving you delicious credit. However, you will need to give your consent before they can access the report.
I should add that you’re entitled to one free full credit report per year, and after that you’ll need to pay for it.
Dun & Bradstreet’s report turned up a few days after I’d sent off my request and the results were remarkably dull but reassuring. Not only am I fairly boring in my personal life, I am incredibly boring in my credit record as well. Nothing racy to see here at all, although the report did prove I have commitment issues when it comes to telecommunication providers.
I got the second report about a week later. And, again, confirmation that I’m about as interesting as my dishwasher. Both reports did have small inconsistencies – wrong employer, incorrect former addresses – but these are easily updated, which is great.
The third report is due any day now. I’m not expecting any surprises – and I don’t want any. I have seen the light regarding credit reports and I am a believer. I might not look good in double denim but dear Lord I look good on paper and I’m going to stay that way.
Penelope Whitson is a freelancer writer and comms professional who likes custard squares, so long as they are not frozen. In her spare time Penelope enjoys reading, slothing and overreacting to apostrophe crimes.All stories by: Penelope Whitson