Australia and New Zealand
page considers the Australian and New Zealand consumer
credit reporting industry, including profiles of major
Australian and overseas credit reporting enterprises.
It also points to bankruptcy and property registers.
It covers -
The following page considers Australian tenancy reporting
services and insurance reporting services.
Please note that we are not a credit
reporting service or insurance referencing agency. We
do not act for any of the services.
The industry in Australia reflects overseas structures,
with most revenue accruing to a handful of major businesses
(eg Experian) and a wide range of smaller enterprises
engaging in reporting, debt collection (including physical
repossession of goods) and personal investigation.
The industry majors and advocacy groups have been at some
pains to distance themselves from the stigma associated
with some of the smaller operators. They have, however,
faced criticism by government agencies and consumer advocacy
Veda Advantage's former Alliance Factoring debt recovery
subsidiary, for example, gained a severe reproof
from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
in August 2005 over poor practice. Unsurprisingly, that
condemnation has not been echoed by the company's peers.
In 2004 a small scale study by the Australian Consumers
Association found 17 of 50 credit reports were defective,
with one or more mistakes that ranged from misspelt names,
a list of jobs that the individual had not held and addresses
that had not been lived at. A NSW Consumer Credit Legal
Centre report regarding debt collection indicated that
only 26% of consumers (again from a very small sample)
believed their credit report was accurate, with 31% commenting
they did not know how to dispute incorrect information,
23% unsuccessfully disputing information and 17% achieving
Australian and New Zealand businesses
In Australia the major independent operator appears to
be Veda Advantage (formerly Baycorp
Advantage), which boasts that it is
largest credit-reporting bureau in Australia. As such
our secure databases hold up-to-date records on over
13.5 million individuals and trading organisations.
It has an arrangement with Insurance Reference Services
Ltd (IRS) - the Australian insurance industry referencing
agency discussed later
in this profile and has formed Trans Union Advantage as
a joint venture with TransUnion.
Baycorp originated in New Zealand and traces its history
to the Hutt Valley Collection Agency established in 1956
"over a butcher shop in Wellington" by the McLaughlin
family. They acquired other NZ collecting and reporting
agencies - notably Nationwide Credit Services in 1987
- before an unsuccessful expansion into Australia and
takeover of major competitor Creditcorp Services in 1993.
Baycorp returned to Australia in 1998, established a Singapore-based
joint venture with Keppel Communications and an identity
certification service 128i Limited (endorsed by the NZ
government in 2001). In the latter year it acquired Australian
loan management services company Axcess Consulting and
merged with Sydney-based Data Advantage to form Baycorp
Data Advantage had absorbed Credit Advantage (formerly
the Credit Reference Association of NSW), with records
on over 12 million people and a million businesses. The
Association started in 1967 with bad debt information
from the Retail Trader's Association of NSW. It joined
a Victorian database in 1976 before going national and
automating enhanced data. [Please note that Caslon has
no relationship with the Credit Reference
Association. We cannot "fix" credit records.
We do not act for Veda Advantage.]
In 2006 Baycorp sold its debt collection arm - Baycorp
Advantage Collections Services, which had attracted some
of the opprobrium associated with the private
security industry - and rights to the Baycorp name.
They were acquired by Trans-Tasman Collections, a joint
venture of private equity
groups Allco Equity Partners and DB Capital Partners.
Baycorp Advantage rebadged itself as Veda Advantage.
Competitor Debt Management Service (DMS),
part of Debt Management Group, "provides credit information
and personnel recruitment services". TCM - an affiliate
of the credit management and debt collection services
Group International - operates in New Zealand as ICMS
Credit Systems Ltd.
D&B Australasia (DBA) announced in 2002 that it was
entering the Australian and New Zealand consumer credit
reference market. It was at that time 77.5% owned by AMP
Henderson, 2.5% held by D&B Corporation and 20% by
local management, following a 2001 IPO
of the Australasian arm of the former Dun & Bradstreet
Registration of real estate in Australia is undertaken
by state government agencies, discussed in more detail
Financial institutions and other entities can access data
(online or in hardcopy) about property titles from those
bodies. They also exchange information, for example as
part of mortgage transfers.
The state/territory agencies are -
- Registrar-General's Office (RGO)
New South Wales - Department of Lands (DL)
Territory - Land Titles Office (LTO)
- Land Registry (LR)
Australia - Land Titles Office (LTO)
- Office of the Recorder of Titles (ORT)
- Land Registry (LR)
Australia - Landgate (formerly Department of Land Information)
counterpart in New Zealand is Land Information New Zealand
In Australia the federal government's Insolvency &
Trustee Service Australia (ITSA)
administers the national personal insolvency system, centred
on the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (BA).
It also has responsibilities under the Proceeds of
Crime Act 1987 and the Customs Act 1901.
ITSA maintains the National Personal Insolvency Index
(NPII), showing details of bankruptcy proceedings under
the Act and its predecessor legislation. In 1998-9
some 166,720 NPII searches were recorded (127,534 through
brokers), up from 162,281 searches in 1997-8. By
2003-4 that had risen to 237,827 searches, up from 221,017
All entries on the NPII are
publicly available and new records are listed within 24
hours of receipt by ITSA. The debtor's full name and date
of birth are used as key identifiers. A search will typically
will show the
and date of bankruptcy administration or proceeding
full name and alias of debtor
address and date of birth
debtor's occupation and business name
name of the trustee or controlling trustee
particulars of any prior or subsequent listing
the end date of the administration
notes that "any person can, for a fee, gain access
to the information", either at an ITSA office or
through four information brokers (CITEC, Lawpoint, Australian
Business Research and Legalco) that have been authorised
by ITSA to provide real-time online searches.
There were 26,285 new insolvency administrations in 2003-4
(compared with 27,592 in 2002-3). As a point of reference
there were 1,637,254 bankruptcies in US federal courts
in 2004-5 (up from 1,442,549 in 1998), 35,898 in the UK
and 92,554 in Canada.
In New Zealand a national insolvency database (covering
personal bankruptcies and company liquidations) is maintained
by the government Insolvency & Trustee Service (ITS)
under the Insolvency Act 1967.
Other Australian government registers are explored elsewhere
on this site.
In both Australia and New Zealand there is no public access
to individual personal taxation
records (whether in full or as an abstract), in contrast
to the Norwegian regime noted in the preceding page of
personal property securities databases
Lending by credit provider such as banks and finance companies
to individuals and business is often secured by the lender
taking collateral. That collateral is a 'security interest'
in real estate (a real property security) or in other
types of property such as crops, motor vehicles, art works,
livestock and even intangibles such as patents (personal
property securities aka PPS).
Regulation of PPS in Australia as of mid 2006 involves
over 70 discrete Acts, administered by at least 30
Commonwealth and state/territory agencies. That legislation
has been reflected in a range of registers, for example
the NSW Register of Encumbered Vehicles (REVS) database
that identifies security interests in motor vehicles and
During 2006 the Attorneys-General proposed development
of a national online PPS register that would facilitate
registering and discovering security interests over most
types of tangible and intangible PPS. The register would
feature details of lenders and borrowers, along with
identification of the collateral.
The expectation is that the register would be searched
by a range of users, including institutions and members
of the public (eg prospective lenders or purchasers), to
determine whether a particular item of personal property
was being used as collateral for a loan. New Zealand established
a national PPS register in the 1990s.