Credit information fee capped at $10

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 12:54 24/07/2014

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Credit bureau Veda has bowed to pressure to reduce its fees, and is introducing a new system to streamline people's requests to see their credit files.

This morning the Privacy Commission announced that credit-reporting bureaus would no longer be allowed to charge more than $10 for immediate access to credit information.

The new rules effectively target Veda, the dominant industry player, which charges $51.95 for access to the information in one working day.

Veda otherwise requires people to apply by mail with a paper copy of the application form and supporting documents, and wait up to 20 working days for a response.

Competitor Centrix offers online reports for free "as soon as is reasonably practicable", and says it usually responds within 48 hours.

Dun & Bradstreet already charges $10 for one-day service, with free delivery within 10 business days.

Veda managing director John Roberts said the company had provided evidence to the commission that a $10 fee would fall well short of covering its costs, but he said the company would comply with the amended code, and there would be no impact on revenues.

"The number of customers who buy their report is not that large," he said.

"It's more of a process issue."

Roberts said Veda was introducing a new online customer identification system that would streamline the process and "without doubt" reduce the 20-day waiting period.

"The new code is effective September 1, we'll be in place by then," he said.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said New Zealanders should not have to pay an "unreasonable" fee to exercise their fundamental right to access credit information about themselves.

"If they want it fast, they've been expected to pay a fee," he said.

"This was permitted under the law on the understanding that credit reporters would act reasonably.

"Some credit reporters weren't, so I decided to place a limit on the amount they could charge."

The amendment is timely, as new "comprehensive" credit reporting rules mean credit bureaus are storing more personal information than previously.

Rather than just defaults and insolvencies, they are beginning to receive detailed payment information from banks, finance companies and utilities.

Fairfax Media recently requested free copies of credit records from all three bureaus.

Dun & Bradstreet supplied the information within hours, and Centrix supplied it the following morning.

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