Frequently Asked Questions

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How Does Credit Reporting Work

The two nationwide consumer reporting agencies are important parts of our credit-based economy. Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) do not determine whether you qualify for a loan or at what rate, credit or benefit. CRAs collect and maintain a timely history of your credit activity as reported by the lenders and creditors with whom you have accounts, along with certain other information such as public records (bankruptcies, civil judgments and tax liens) and collection items. Each creditor reports the status of your account to the CRAs according to your payment history. Financial institutions and others with a permissible purpose can obtain a copy of your credit report in order to make certain types of decisions about you. For example, when you apply for a new loan or credit card, a lender may use the information in your credit report to determine whether to lend you money and at what rate based on their own risk criteria.

Will a consumer know if an institution requests information on his/her credit history from a credit bureau?

If asked by a consumer, a person who has obtained a credit report from a credit bureau, is legally required to confirm receipt of the information and advise the name and address of the credit bureau that provided the report.

Can I find out who has requested my credit report?

A consumer can submit a written request to the credit bureau for all information pertaining to them that is in the credit bureau’s possession. This includes the name and address of every person to whom disclosures were made during the six month period immediately preceding the date of the consumer’s request.

How much does it cost to obtain a copy of my credit report?

A consumer is entitled to receive a free credit report from a credit bureau in each calendar year on submission of a written request to the credit bureau. Any subsequent requests by the consumer will require the payment of the credit bureau’s fees.

What is a consumer entitled to know regarding his or her credit report or personal file at a credit bureau?

A consumer is entitled to a clear and complete disclosure of the following information:
-All information pertaining to the consumer that is in the credit bureau’s custody, possession or control; -The sources of the gathered information; -The name and address of every person to whom such information has been disclosed by or on behalf of the credit bureau during the six month period immediately preceding the date of the consumer’s request.

Can a consumer obtain a copy of his/her credit report from a credit bureau?

Yes. A consumer can submit a written request for all information pertaining to him or her, which is in the credit bureau’s possession.

What is a ‘credit score’?

Many lenders, as well as credit bureaus themselves, also use credit bureau information to generate credit scores. Credit scores are statistical estimates of the probability of default of a borrower based on characteristics available in the information provided to the credit bureau.

What is meant by ‘credit history’?

Credit bureaus compile information on credit repayment records, court judgments, and bankruptcies. All these can be referred to as the credit history of a borrower or consumer.

How can information provided by the credit bureau be used?

-A credit information provider can use the credit information for facilitating the extension of a loan or other credit facility to the consumer.

-In addition, once permission is granted by the consumer, credit information can also be used by a credit information provider for:

-Facilitating a financial or other commercial transaction involving the consumer

-Underwriting of insurance involving the consumer.

-Purposes of employment of the consumer.

-Other purposes in accordance with the specific written instructions of the consumer

How long does it take for action to be taken once a complaint is filed?

Once a complaint is made to a credit bureau, the Bureau should take steps such as to confirm, correct or complete the information no later than fourteen days after the complaint has been made.

To whom may complaints be directed if a consumer has a complaint regarding a credit report? What can I do if I have a complaint/there is an error in my consumer report?

If there is a complaint such as dispute over the accuracy or completeness of a credit report, a consumer may make a complaint in person or in writing to the credit bureau. If the consumer is dissatisfied with the outcome after reporting it to the credit bureau, he or she may submit the complaint in writing to the supervising authority (i.e. Bank of Jamaica).

How is corrected information passed on by a credit bureau to creditors?

Whenever credit information has been amended a copy of the amended report is sent by the credit bureau to every person to whom the credit bureau disclosed the inaccurate or incomplete information. The consumer is also notified when the necessary changes have been made.

How does information from a credit bureau benefit the average consumer?

Information from a credit bureau allows a lender to more accurately assess the credit worthiness of a borrower. This enables lenders to better assess the risk of each credit and price the loan accordingly. Therefore, potential borrowers with good credit histories can benefit from reduced lending rates.

How can information provided by the credit bureau be used?

A credit information provider can use the credit information for facilitating the extension of a loan or other credit facility to the consumer.
In addition, once permission is granted by the consumer, credit information can also be used by a credit information provider for:
-Facilitating a financial or other commercial transaction involving the consumer.
-Underwriting of insurance involving the consumer.
-Purposes of employment of the consumer.
-Other purposes in accordance with the specific written instructions of the consumer.

Who can request a report from a credit bureau?

The following persons can request a report from a credit bureau:
- A credit information provider.
- The supervising authority (i.e. Bank of Jamaica)
- The consumer to whom the information pertains
Additionally, a credit bureau may also be required to provide information pursuant to a Court Order in the course of investigations conducted under certain specific circumstances pursuant to the Credit Reporting Act.

What is a credit report?

A credit report represents a comprehensive credit profile of a borrower. This includes, for example, personal information (e.g. borrower’s name, ID number, date of birth etc.) and a credit summary (e.g. credit accounts held by borrower, whether accounts are current/past due and a record of recent credit enquiries made about the borrower).

What type of information do credit bureaus collect?

Under the Credit Reporting Act, a credit bureau can collect the following types of information on consumers:

- Information about the consumers’ financial means and credit worthiness in relation to transactions involving the borrower.
- The amount and nature of loans and advances or other credit facilities granted to a consumer
- The type of security taken from any consumer in respect of credit facilities (including lease financing and/or hire purchase)
- The nature of any guarantee or other non-fund based facility accessed by a consumer
- History of financial transactions in relation to transactions involving the borrower
- Analysis of the above information including conclusions as to credit worthiness which may be in the form of numerical or alphabetical scores

Where do credit bureaus obtain their information?

Under section 8 of the Credit Reporting Act, the following persons or institutions may provide information to credit bureaus:

- Commercial Banks
- Licensees under the Financial Institutions Act (e.g. Merchant Banks)
- Building Societies
- Societies registered under the Co-operative Societies Act e.g. credit unions
- The Development Bank of Jamaica Limited
- Securities Dealers
- Insurance Companies
- National Housing Trust
- The Students’ Loan Bureau
- Businesses that sell goods under hire purchase, credit sale, or conditional sale agreements as defined by the Hire Purchase Act.
- Persons who publish information on suits and judgments for debt claims
- Other credit bureaus
- Any other entity designated by the Minister of Finance to be a credit information provider under the Credit Reporting Act

What is a credit bureau?

Under the Credit Reporting Act, a credit bureau can collect the following types of information on consumers:
Information about the consumers’ financial means and credit worthiness in relation to transactions involving the borrower.
- The amount and nature of loans and advances or other credit facilities granted to a consumer.
- The type of security taken from any consumer in respect of credit facilities (including lease financing and/or hire purchase).
- The nature of any guarantee or other non-fund based facility accessed by a consumer.
- History of financial transactions in relation to transactions involving the borrower.
-  Analysis of the above information including conclusions as to credit worthiness which may be in the form of numerical or alphabetical scores