New Zealand Law Society - Privacy Commissioner’s plans for speedier access to credit reports

Privacy Commissioner’s plans for speedier access to credit reports

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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has released a report revealing plans to update the Credit Reporting Privacy Code to require credit reporters to give individuals access to credit reports more quickly than current law requires.

“Prompt access by consumers to information on credit reports is a fundamental individual right,” says the Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards.

The report is entitled Credit Reporting Privacy Code: Miscellaneous Issues.

“Although credit reports can in effect be released at the click of a button, the current law allows for up to a month for access to be given. The credit reporting industry has demonstrated that they deliver for individuals much more quickly than this and it is time for the law to catch up,” says Mr Edwards.

“Accordingly I will be proposing an amendment to the code of practice to reduce the maximum time for giving access by half.”

The report supplements a major report released in April, Comprehensive Credit Reporting Six Years On, which announced a plan for individuals to be entitled to have access to credit scores.

“These reforms will ensure that individual access to credit reporting information is quicker,” says Mr Edwards.

The miscellaneous issues report recommended several other changes to make credit reporting more comprehensive, including:

  • Rejection for the time being of the inclusion of either account balance information or tax debt information in the consumer credit reporting system,
  • Allowing the use of the NZ Business Number for identification,
  • Creating a system for the controlled use of credit reporting systems for tracing individuals to return money owed to them.

The Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2004 was substantially amended in 2010-11 to introduce a US-style comprehensive credit reporting system. This was the subject of a major review that was completed and reported upon in April. This report addressed some miscellaneous issues not suitable to be included in the main report.