A new version of the Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (CR Code) came into effect today that reflects amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 relating to financial hardship reporting by credit providers and credit reporting bodies in Australia.
The ability to report financial hardship information is a significant reform to the Privacy Act. Under these amendments, credit providers can enter into a financial hardship arrangement with an individual to adjust their repayments under their loan.
Under the Privacy Act, financial hardship information will be reported on an individual’s credit report, alongside their repayment history information. Version 2.3 of the CR Code particularises the amendments that have been made to Part IIIA of the Privacy Act.
The changes will give credit providers a fuller picture of a consumer’s financial situation. For example, a credit provider may be able to see when a consumer may be experiencing financial hardship due to an unexpected event such as a natural disaster.
Version 2.3 of the CR Code provides important privacy protections for consumers around the use and disclosure of their financial hardship information in recognition of the sensitivity of this information in the credit reporting system.
The CR Code prohibits the use of financial hardship information to calculate an individual’s credit score and limits the retention of financial hardship information to 12 months.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is responsible for regulating compliance by credit reporting bodies and credit providers with the new provisions of the CR Code and monitoring its operation.
The OAIC has produced guidance for individuals on these new provisions and what they mean for them.