What is a credit check?
Whenever you apply for a loan, hire purchase, credit card, store card or line of credit you’ll have a credit check run on you by the organisation you’re asking to lend you money.
They’ll have to ask your permission before carrying out a credit check, which will be carried out by a credit bureau or agency.
What does it show?
A credit check will generate a report that shows your history of paying bills and repaying debt, to give credit providers an idea of how likely you are to repay money they might lend you.
It’s important to realise that information from companies like your power, gas or phone providers will be feeding into your credit report, so it’s important to pay your bills on time.
As well as late bill payments, things like defaulting on a loan or credit card are also likely to show up on your credit report.
It can include details about your:
- credit cards
- arranged overdrafts
- personal loans
- car finance
- hire purchases
- repayment history for your phone and power accounts.
Your personal and financial information is still covered by the Privacy Act. For more information, check out the Privacy Commissioner’s website.
Positive credit reporting
Your credit report doesn’t just keep track of your financial hard times or missteps, it can also show your history of making payments on time, or even early repayments or overpayments.
Kiwibank participates in positive credit reporting. This means we report on the type and amount of credit you’ve received and how your repayments are going.
Including positive reporting rather than just negative provides a clearer picture of your finances, and shows if you've recovered from credit difficulties in the past.
How to improve your credit score
If you’ve made a few money mistakes in the past and are worried that this has impacted your credit rating, there are ways to get it back on track.
- Pay your bills and loans on time
- If you’ve fallen behind in your payments or repayments, aim to start making regular repayments so you can start building a picture of positive financial behaviour. If you keep this up, then over time it will start to outweigh previous payment failures
- Check your credit report and if there are any errors dispute them
- Strike the right balance when it comes to applying for credit (things like loans, credit cards, hire purchase). Having some of these kinds of credit and showing you can be responsible with them is a good thing when it comes to building a positive credit picture. But, applying for too much credit is a bad thing. If you apply for several credit cards or loans at the same time or over a short space of time you could look like you’re in financial difficulty and that could set alarm bells ringing.
How to check your credit
You can get a free copy of your credit report from any of New Zealand’s three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Centrix, or illion.