13 Jul 2011

Commissioner hears feedback on credit reporting

9:08 pm on 13 July 2011

The Privacy Commission is considering feedback over proposed changes to the privacy code that would allow credit lenders more access to consumers' sensitive financial information.

The commission has proposed to make 24 months of repayment history available to lenders, which would show if a borrower pays their bills each month. At present, only default, or negative information, is available.

A public hearing of submissions opened in Auckland on Wednesday. The commission has received 60 submissions on its controversial proposal for positive credit reporting.

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff is leading the hearing and said it was feasible to change the code to benefit individuals, the community, the economy and financial services industry.

Positive credit information would be available only to credit providers - not employers, landlords or debt collectors, she says.

Credit reporting agency Dun and Bradstreet spokesman John Scott said the company supports more information-sharing as it would benefit from that.

He said the proposed changes had the capacity to reduce default rates, increase lending to poorly served sections of the community, improve the price of credit for borrowers and promote competition within the banking sector.

The Federation of Family Budgeting Services says allowing lenders more access to the credit history of customers is a good step towards responsible lending.

Chief executive Raewyn Fox says it is often a one-off crisis, such as redundancy or a marriage separation, that will lead to someone being recorded as having negative credit.

Ms Fox says this means under the current system, they are discriminated against in getting good credit for quite some time.