29 April to 4 May 2013 is Privacy Awareness Week 2013 across Australia. MyCRA Credit Rating Repair are once again proud partners of PAW, and 2013’s theme “Privacy Law Reform” is especially relevant to us as credit repairers and consumer advocates for accurate credit reporting. We are taking this week to discuss the huge changes coming our way since Australia’s Privacy Act (1988) was amended in late November 2012. We look at how individuals and businesses will be impacted by new Privacy Laws, particularly in our area of focus – credit reporting and credit law, looking towards the implementation of those laws on March 12, 2014.
By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.
What is Privacy Awareness Week?
Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum (APPA) held every year to promote awareness of privacy issues and the importance of the protection of personal information. Activities are held across the Asia Pacific region by APPA members.
Why is MyCRA involved?
Credit reporting is governed by the Privacy Act (1988) – so privacy issues are regulated and protected by this legislation. Credit repairers must be fluent in Privacy legislation in order to help consumers with their credit disputes.
2013’s theme – Privacy Law Reform is a pertinent one for consumers. MyCRA believes that every consumer should be educated on the changes coming in for them, and they affect every credit-active individual. We want to raise awareness of how an individual’s ability to obtain credit may be impacted (for better or worse) by these laws. We also want to demonstrate the changes that are coming in the way credit reporting information is handled, and how that will also impact the individual.
What will change?
The new laws will bring about changes in three main areas. (Courtesy of OAIC).
The introduction of a unified set of Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). These principles will be introduced to replace the current National Privacy Principles for those private sector organisations covered by the Privacy Act and the Information Privacy Principles for Australian government agencies. There are a number of important changes with the introduction of the APPs, including in the areas of direct marketing, overseas disclosure of personal information and the handling of unsolicited information.
The introduction of comprehensive credit reporting. These changes are designed to provide consumer credit providers with sufficient information to adequately assess credit risk while ensuring the protection of personal information, and to support responsible lending. The system will be underpinned by a new industry-agreed Credit Reporting Code of Conduct approved by the Commissioner.
Enhanced powers for the Commissioner. These powers include enhanced powers to resolve investigations and promote privacy compliance with access to new remedy powers including enforceable undertakings and civil penalties. Also, for the first time, the Commissioner will be able to conduct Performance Assessments of private sector organisations to determine whether they are handling personal information in accordance with the new APPs, credit reporting provisions and other rules and codes. The Commissioner will be able to conduct these assessments at any time — an added incentive for organisations to ensure they are handling personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act.
Credit reporting and Privacy
Some of the areas of credit reporting which will undergo significant change will be:
- New data on Australian credit reports – including repayment history information
- Quality, security, accuracy and integrity of credit reporting information as set out in APP’s.
- Improved ability to dispute credit listings
- Ability to secure a credit file against identity crime
- Penalties for breach of Privacy Act
- A new Credit Reporting Code of Conduct – currently at Draft stage.
Stay tuned every day this week to find out more about how Australia’s credit reporting law changes may affect you, your credit file and your ability to obtain credit.
Image: Salvatore Vuono/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net