Home | Browse Topics | Consumer rights & money | Credit and debt | Credit reports

Consumer rights & money

Chapters in this topic


Credit reports

How credit reporting works

Privacy Act 2020, s 22, Principles 6-8; Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2020, clause 5, rules 6-11; Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2020

Credit reporting agencies gather and sell information about individual peoples’ credit histories. The information they can report on includes your current credit accounts, such as hire-purchase arrangements and loans (including credit limits and your repayment history), whether you’ve ever failed to make (“defaulted on”) your repayments, any court judgments given against you for debts, and whether you’ve ever been declared bankrupt. They also look at your payment history for phone, electricity and gas accounts and if you have any outstanding fines or reparation.

What is a credit score?

Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2020, clause 4

You are given a credit score – this is a number between 0 -1,000 (the higher the number, the better your rating). This indicates how credit worthy you are and how likely you are to pay back the loan on time so a history of paying your bills on time will give you a higher score. Your score isn’t fixed – it can change over time as “old” information drops off your credit file, for example a default from ten years ago won’t affect your score anymore.

If you have never applied for any credit that gives you no credit history at all. No credit history means the lender has no information about you or the likelihood you can make your repayments. This might lead them to turn you down.

What things negatively affect my credit rating?

Missing (“defaulting on”) payments on loans and even on smaller bills like power and phone will reduce your credit rating. Things like shifting debt from one account to another (like from one credit card to another card), applying for too much credit or for too many payday loans, having debt collectors involved or going through an insolvency procedure like bankruptcy or the no asset procedure will also have a negative impact on your rating. Making a hardship application to your bank or other lender is also taken into account.

How can I improve my credit rating?

You can improve your credit rating by paying your bills on time, paying your credit card off in full each month cancelling unused credit cards, limiting credit applications and payday loans.

Be wary of sharing bills with other people like flatmates as their failure to pay bills can affect your rating.

Who can see my credit information (“do a credit check”)?

Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2020, Schedule 5

People who will want this information may include lenders, prospective landlords, employers and insurers, but they can’t get it without your consent. However, credit reporting agencies generally don’t need your consent to provide credit reports to debt collectors, people involved in court proceedings against you, and certain government agencies (for example intelligence agencies preparing a security clearance).

Credit reporting agencies must take reasonable steps to make sure the information they hold about you is accurate, up-to-date, complete, relevant, and not misleading.

How long does information stay on my credit file?

Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2020, Schedule 1

There’s a time limit on how long they can continue to report on particular things. Credit application and payment default information stays on file for five years.

After a bankruptcy comes to an end (a “discharge” from bankruptcy), credit reporters can continue to report this for four years but no longer, and they must not keep the information about the bankruptcy for more than five years after the discharge. The same time limits apply after you’re discharged from the no-asset procedure (see “When you can’t pay your debts: Bankruptcy and other options”). But if you’ve been made bankrupt twice or more, or been made bankrupt and been through a no asset procedure, that information is kept indefinitely.

Getting a copy of your credit record

Privacy Act 2020, s 22, Principle 6, s 1; Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2020, cl 5, rule 6(1)(b), cl 6(2)(b)

You have the right to ask for a copy of your credit report. If any of the information isn’t correct, you can apply in writing to the credit reporting companies for it to be corrected.

Three credit reporting companies (Centrix, Equifax and Illion) operate in New Zealand. To check your record, or to correct any information, you’ll need to contact them all (see “Where to go for more support” at the end of this page).

A credit reporting company must give you a copy of your report within 20 working days after you ask for it. They can’t charge you for this unless you ask for them to provide it within five working days, in which case they can charge you up to $10 (including GST).

What if there is a mistake on my credit record?

Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2020, clause 5, rule 7

If you believe there is a mistake on your credit report you can contact the credit reporter to ask for it to be corrected. The credit reporter will make a decision to either correct the mistake, or tell you why they are not willing to change the mistake within 20 working days.

Even if they refuse to change the mistake, they have to make a note on your credit report that you requested the change, If you are not happy with why they are not willing to make the change on your credit report, you can complain to the Privacy Commission. See “Complaining to the Privacy Commissioner” in the section “Privacy and Information”.

Does checking my own credit record affect my rating?

No, checking your own credit score will not lower you rating.

Did this answer your question?

Credit and debt

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Consumer Protection


Consumer Protection helpline: 0508 426 678 (0508 4 CONSUMER)

Email: cpinfo@mbie.govt.nz

The Consumer Protection website has useful information on a range of consumer topics. Consumer Protection is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).



Phone: 0800 345 123

Email: help@moneytalks.co.nz

MoneyTalks provides free, confidential budgeting support. They can pair you with a financial mentor to help you if you are struggling with debt or need advice on budgeting.



Phone: 0800 345 123

Email: kiaora@fincap.org.nz

FinCap can help you with budgeting information online or on the phone. They may also suggest a local budgeting service to help you with debt and other budgeting issues.

Consumer NZ


Phone: 0800 266 786

Email: info@consumer.org.nz

The Consumer NZ website provides a wide range of information on consumer credit and debt issues, including debt collectors, repossession and bankruptcy

Commerce Commission


Phone: 0800 943 600
Email: contact@comcom.govt.nz
The Commerce Commission enforces the consumer credit legislation (the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act) and the laws against misleading and deceptive conduct by traders (the Fair Trading Act). The Commission provides information on these areas on its website.

It’s All Good


It’s All Good is an animated series produced by The Commerce Commission about consumer rights.

Citizens Advice


Phone: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222)
Citizens Advice Bureaux have volunteers trained in consumer law who can provide information and advice if you have a problem with credit and debt issues.

Dispute resolution schemes

There are four dispute resolution schemes for consumers dealing with lenders and other credit providers.

  • Financial Services Complaints Limited – www.fscl.org.nz
    0800 347 257
  • Email: info@fscl.org.nz
  • Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman –
    Phone: 0800 888 202
  • Email: info@ifso.nz
  • Banking Ombudsman – www.bankomb.org.nz
    0800 805 950
  • Email: help@bankomb.org.nz
  • Financial Dispute Resolution – www.fdrs.org.nz Phone: 0508 337 337
  • Email: enquiries@fdrs.org.nz

Cases in the District Courts

The Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice website has information about civil claims in the District Courts: see www.justice.govt.nz and search “Claims you can take to civil court”.

Credit reporting

Privacy Commission

0800 803 909

The Privacy Commission has information on your rights in relation to credit reporting and how to complain if you feel your rights have been breached.

Your credit record

Three credit reporting companies operate nationally in New Zealand. To check your record or correct any information, you’ll need to contact them all.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit record. You should make sure you choose the free option when you contact each company.

Centrix – www.centrix.co.nz 0800 236 874

Illion – www.illion.co.nz 0800 733 707

Equifax – www.equifax.co.nz 0800 698 332

Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)


Search the PPSR register to see if there is any security interest registered against a vehicle. This can be done for a small fee by registering to check online.

Bankruptcy and other options

Insolvency and Trustee Service


Phone: 0508 INSOLVENCY (0508 467 658)

The Insolvency and Trustee Service (ITS) deals with bankruptcies, no-asset procedures, summary instalment orders and some company liquidations. Information about those processes is available on its website. The ITS is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life. It’s for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand (and their advocates) to help themselves.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top