A recent survey revealed that about one in three Australians said they will struggle to repay their debts in the coming September quarter. If this many Australians have money problems, then more should be done to educate people on our credit reporting laws, and what can happen to people’s finances, should they end up with a bad credit rating.

When things get bad enough that repayments are getting missed, people need to be aware of the cycle they may be getting themselves into.

Black marks on people’s credit reports remain there for 5 – 7 years, and can severely hinder their chances of getting further credit, from mortgages to mobile phone plans.

If people are struggling to make repayments, they need to take a pro-active approach to managing the solutions.

It is human nature for people to not want to admit their failings, but it is important for people to realise that the choices they make with their debts today can affect them as far as seven years down the track.

All forms of credit, from mortgage repayments through to our utilities bills have the potential to affect our credit rating should they get too far in arrears.

Debt survey

Credit reporting agency Dun & Bradstreet released its bi-annual debt survey recently. The survey revealed that almost one third of Australians will struggle to meet their credit commitments in the September quarter. It also revealed that 37 percent intend to use their credit card to purchase something they could otherwise not afford. Twenty-one percent say their household debt will increase over the next three months, and almost half say an interest rate rise in the September quarter would negatively affect their household’s finances.

“…the reliance on credit for household purchases in spite of apprehension about their ability to meet these commitments is worrying, as an issue that can affect their future credit rating and ability to access credit – often when they need it the most,” Dun & Bradstreet’s CEO Christine Christian says.

Credit reporting explained

Current legislation allows creditors of any form to list a default on a person’s credit file when the repayment is more than 60 days late. These default listings remain on a person’s credit file for 5 years. In the current market, most major banks are currently rejecting loan applications because of defaults, and many even for excess credit enquiries. So anyone who wishes to obtain credit should be ensuring they sort out any debt problems before they escalate to default stage.

Under current legislation, people can see what is reported about them on their credit file, by obtaining a free copy of their credit report every 12 months. They may contact one or more of the credit reporting agencies, Veda Advantage, Dun & Bradstreet and Tasmanian Collection Services and it will be posted to them within 10 working days.

If people find defaults, writs or Judgments which they believe are unjust, contain errors or just simply shouldn’t be there, they do have the right to have them removed. Credit rating repairers can assist with this removal by negotiating directly with creditors on a person’s behalf.

Solutions for debt to avoid a bad credit rating

1. Contact creditors immediately. People may be able to negotiate either a short-term or long-term change to their repayments. Many creditors, especially the major banks have options available to struggling families to help them keep up with repayments. Many appreciate people keeping in touch and working out solutions everyone can live with.

2. Put the spotlight on spending. Paul Clitheroe advises those who can’t make repayments to keep a spending diary for a week or two.

“This will show you exactly where your money is going, and chances are you’ll find plenty of little-but-often outlays that quickly add up to much larger amounts. Cut back on these and you’ll free up money for repayments,” Mr Clitheroe says.

3. Consider the difference between wants and needs. People
should consider how many of the items they regularly spend money on are necessities, and how many can be sacrificed for the short term in order to ensure their long term financial future is safe? People could choose to live without life’s little perks – like the Foxtel account, magazine subscriptions, or eating out while they get on top of their credit issues.

4. Downgrade if necessary. For people in serious financial trouble, it may be a matter of swallowing their pride and downsizing or selling the family home, or moving to cheaper rental accommodation until they get back on top of things.

For people who have defaults, writs and Judgments which are unfairly disadvantaging them, and they feel they should not be there – they can contact MyCRA Credit Repairs. We permanently remove black marks from credit files.

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