Mandatory comprehensive credit reporting and hardship arrangements

The Attorney General has announced that the proposed mandatory comprehensive credit reporting scheme will be amended to allow hardship information to be reported alongside repayment history information. Background.

Currently, due to provisions in the Privacy Act, when a person is engaged in a hardship arrangement with one credit provider, this arrangement cannot be disclosed to other credit providers.

The National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Mandatory Comprehensive Credit Reporting) Bill 2018 lapsed when it was not passed in the last Parliament.

Draft legislation will be released shortly to enable public consultation on the proposed changes which will identify when a hardship arrangement is in place and whether a consumer is making payments in accordance with that arrangement.

A separate indicator will show when there has been an agreed permanent variation to a credit contract. Hardship information will be subject to the same protections as repayment history information concerning collection, use and disclosure under the Privacy Act, but will be subject to a shorter retention period.

The purpose of hardship information is to communicate to credit providers that there is an alternative arrangement in place, triggering a prospective credit provider to make further enquiries to ensure that a credit product is suitable for a consumer.

While hardship information will appear on a consumer’s credit report, credit reporting bodies will be prohibited from using hardship information to calculate a consumer’s credit score.

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