Notification of adverse credit reports

59.57 Under s 18M of the Privacy Act, when an individual’s application for credit is refused, based wholly or partly on a credit report, the credit provider must give the individual written notice of that fact and advice about the individual’s right to obtain access to his or her credit information file held by the credit reporting agency.

59.58 Neither the NPPs nor the model UPPs contain an equivalent provision. Section 18M is essential, however, for the operation of Part IIIA of the Privacy Act. Unless an individual is made aware that the reason credit has been refused is due to credit reporting information received by the credit provider, the individual will not be in a position to obtain access to that information, check the accuracy of the information or seek its correction.

59.59 In DP 72, the ALRC proposed that the new Privacy (Credit Reporting Information) Regulations provide individuals with rights to be notified about adverse credit reports, based on the provisions currently set out in s 18M.[59] Stakeholders who addressed the issue all agreed with the ALRC’s proposal,[60] which is confirmed in the recommendation below.

Recommendation 59-4 The new Privacy (Credit Reporting Information) Regulations should provide that, where a credit provider refuses an application for credit based wholly or partly on credit reporting information, it must notify an individual of that fact. These notification requirements should be based on the provisions currently set out in s 18M of the Privacy Act.

[59]Australian Law Reform Commission, Review of Australian Privacy Law, DP 72 (2007), Proposal 55–2.

[60]Australian Privacy Foundation, Submission PR 553, 2 January 2008; Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Submission PR 499, 20 December 2007; Legal Aid Queensland, Submission PR 489, 19 December 2007; Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre UNSW, Submission PR 487, 19 December 2007; Law Society of New South Wales, Submission PR 443, 10 December 2007; National Australia Bank, Submission PR 408, 7 December 2007; Australasian Retail Credit Association, Submission PR 352, 29 November 2007; Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia, Submission PR 344, 19 November 2007.