55.1 This chapter presents recommendations to extend the current system of credit reporting to permit a broader spectrum of personal information to be collected and disclosed—referred to in this Report as ‘more comprehensive’ credit reporting.
55.2 The chapter begins by explaining what is meant by more comprehensive credit reporting and summarises the existing position on the content of credit information files and credit reports. The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), as explained in Chapter 53, restricts the types of personal information that may be collected and disclosed in the course of credit reporting. Broadly speaking, the Act mainly (but not exclusively) permits the collection and disclosure of personal information that detracts from an individual’s credit worthiness—such as the fact that an individual has defaulted on a loan. This is commonly referred to as ‘negative’ or ‘delinquency-based’ credit reporting.
55.3 There has been a strong push by credit reporting agencies and credit providers to expand the types of personal information that may be collected and disclosed in the credit reporting process and, in particular, to permit the reporting of personal information relating to an individual’s current credit commitments or repayment performance (or both).
55.4 This chapter examines the arguments for and against more comprehensive credit reporting, with particular reference to comments received in submissions and consultations, and information derived from empirical research into the possible effects of more comprehensive credit reporting on credit markets and the economy. The chapter also outlines some possible models of comprehensive credit reporting schemes, taking account of developments in other jurisdictions. For the reasons discussed in this chapter, the ALRC recommends that there should be an extension in the categories of personal information that may be collected for credit reporting purposes.
55.5 Any expansion in the categories of personal information that may be collected for credit reporting cannot be considered in isolation from other aspects of the regulation of credit reporting—for example, in relation to the data quality of credit reporting information, dispute resolution and penalties for the unauthorised use or disclosure of such information. These and other issues are discussed in Chapters 56–59 of this Report.