One of the key functions of Credit Bureau (Singapore) (CBS) is to create and maintain consumer credit files and provide credit reports to member-banks and customers whenever they seek them. These reports contain your credit history and your risk profile, and indicate your creditworthiness to the lenders. In this article we will explain all the aspects of a CBS Credit Report to you, so that you are aware of the components and what they mean for you as a borrower.
Why Are Credit Reports Important?
Credit reports are a snapshot of your debt history. Though it may appear to be an invasion of your privacy, your debt is not your problem alone. A financial institution that lends you money is as concerned about your previous debts and repayments as you are. It needs to know whether you will be able to repay the debt and whether you are a risky customer or an easy one. It needs to know whether the money it invests in you would be returned or lost. Availability of a credit file is of immense help to these institutions as it gives them a ready-reckoner about a customer’s risk profile. Since credit reports are double-checked and verified multiple times with the banks concerned, a customer cannot fool any lender with inaccurate or false data.
The credit report also contains the important 4-digit number between 1000 and 2000 – credit score. An individual with a score in the vicinity of 1000 is likely to default or delay repayments, while one with a score nearer to 2000 is more likely to repay the loan on time and in full. The report also contains a 2-alphabet risk level rating, ranging from AA to HH. Ratings from AA to DD indicate low risk, while candidates with ratings of EE to HH are deemed higher-risk customers. Together, these indicate your credit-worthiness.
When you apply for a credit card or loan, the banks will seek your credit file to help them decide whether to approve your loan or not. They will decide whether you will be a good borrower or not based on the score and rating. If your score and rating are high, there is a better chance of your loan being approved, but if the score and rating are low, your loan application may be rejected.
Apart from this, checking your credit report helps keep track of your credit history for possible inaccuracies and fraud. By subscribing to CBS’s My Credit Monitor service, you will get alerts every time your identity is used for credit, thereby letting you make amendments if a particular transaction is not actually done by you. A good credit report and score also make you an attractive customer for lenders. You can expect competitive rates and quick service if your credit report is clean.
Structure Of A CBS Credit Report:
A standard CBS Credit Report comprises the following information:
- Personal details: Name of the consumer, Date of birth, Gender, Nationality, Marital Status, Postal Code and Addresses, National ID number and Passport number.
- Credit summary: Earliest date when a loan was taken, Number of credit report requests made so far, Number of credit card and loan accounts held, Number of debt defaults, bankruptcy records, details of credit limits, Number of entries into debt management programmes, and ID theft cases.
- Loan account history: The type of credit product taken, name of the lender, type of account, type of date of opening and closure of the account, outstanding balances, and payments made in the last 12 months.
- Details of previous enquiries: The dates of enquiry, the name of the enquirer (self or any banking institution), type of enquiry, type of product for which the report was sought, and type of account.
- Debt-related information: Records of debt defaults, Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS), and bankruptcy data.
- Bureau Score: Credit Score and Risk Grade.
Updating the Credit Report:
The credit reports are updated every time one of the CBS member institutions gives new data to the bureau. So if there is any financial information related to you in the data provided, your credit file will be updated. These updates primarily relate to payment of EMIs and credit card bills, any bankruptcy or DRS proceedings started against you, or closure or termination of your loan accounts. These updates are done daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the bank or financial institution.
However, you need to remember that the credit history does not stay in your credit file forever. The following information will be available for a limited period of time:
- Account status history: Information about ongoing loan accounts will be displayed only for the last 12 months. So if you are applying for loan in September 2016, the report may contain detailed account data from September 2015 to August 2016. Data on closed or terminated loan accounts will be available in the report for a period of 3 years from the date of closure. So a loan closed in early January 2016 will remain in the report until January 2019.
- Previous inquiries: The number of credit report requests on your file made by CBS members will be available in the report for 2 years. So if you apply for a loan in October 2016, the report will not contain any inquiry made by any bank prior to September 2014.
- Default records: If you have defaulted on repayments of loans, information about them would remain in the report depending on the status of the defaulting. If the status of the default records is ‘Negotiated Settlement’ or ‘Full Settlement’, it will be part of the report for a period of 3 years from the final status change. But if the status is ‘Outstanding’, ‘Partial payment’ or ‘Sold off’, the records will remain in the report indefinitely.
- Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS): Individuals who have been covered under DRS will find their reports mentioning the DRS records depending on the status of the case the case as reported by the Insolvency and Public Trustee Office every week.
Status Display period Under Assessment Remains in the report until next status change In Progress Remains in the report until next status change Unsuitable, Case referred back to court Remains in the report for 5 years Unsuitable, Bankruptcy application/case withdrawn Is taken off the report immediately Unsuitable, bankruptcy declared Remains in the report for 5 years Case withdrawn Is taken off the report immediately Certificate of Completion issued under section 56N of Bankruptcy Act Is taken off the report immediately if full repayment is made; Remains in the report for 5 years if partial repayment is made Certificate of Inapplicability issued under section 56L of Bankruptcy Act Remains in the report for 5 years Certificate of Failure issued under section 56M of Bankruptcy Act Remains in the report for 5 years
- Bankruptcy records: If you have been declared bankrupt or have failed to make debt repayments, your records will be part of the credit file for 5 years from the date of discharge from bankruptcy.
How To Get CBS Credit Report:
To obtain your credit report, you can follow any of the 3 ways mentioned below:
- Online: You can visit the CBS website and log in to ‘‘Buy My Credit Report Now’’ section to buy your credit report. To sign in, you need a SingPass ID. If you do not have a SingPass ID yet, you can register yourself online at the Singpass website. You can also obtain a SingPass ID via CPF Online Request Service. The credit report can be bought by paying S$6.42 (including GST) via eNets or valid Visa/Mastercard credit cards.
- Free report: If you have applied for a loan and got an approval or rejection, then you are eligible to get a free copy of your credit report. This free report facility was launched on April 1, 2016. Once you receive the approval or rejection, your free credit report will be available on the CBS website or at the CBS Office, for a period of 30 days. You need to produce the approval/rejection letter to get the report.
- Offline: You can physically visit one of the following locations to buy your credit report, where you have to pay the same amount as for the online report:
- CBS Office, SGX Centre 1
- Any of the 57 SingPost branches
- CrimsonLogic Service Bureau, Chinatown Point
- CASE Office, Ulu Pandan Community Building
How To Address Discrepancies In The Credit Report:
You can make corrections to your credit report if you find any discrepancies, or incorrect/insufficient information. To do this, first you will have to buy the credit report (or download the free copy if your loan has recently been approved or rejected by a bank), and check the report thoroughly. Corrections can be made by writing to email@example.com or consulting with CBS Privacy Officers at 65656363. You can also visit the CBS Office for clarity on the process.
CBS will cross-check the amendment sought by you with the bank or financial institution concerned, and investigate the matter. It will keep you informed of the progress made in the inquiry and make corrections in your file if it is justified. The revised report will be sent to all CBS members who have requested your file in the last 3 months. Any further complaint needs to be taken to the CBS Compliance Committee.
CBS credit reports are among the most reliable and trusted credit information reports in Singapore today. The scoring pattern was devised by the CBS in association with TransUnion and uses advanced modelling and analytics. It is an important financial tool for both lenders and customers, and because of this, understanding all the aspects of credit reports is important to you as a consumer.