How to avoid getting a default listing

If you fail to pay a debt to your energy or water provider, a default listing may be recorded on your credit report. A default listing will impact your ability to obtain credit for financial, telecommunications and energy services in the future. Here’s what you need to know to avoid this happening to you.

When can an overdue account be listed as a default?

A default can be listed on your credit file when:

  • you’re 60 days or more overdue in making a payment on your account and
  • the amount overdue is $150 or more.

How will you be notified?

Before a default is listed on your credit file, your energy provider must issue you with two written notices to your last known address. This can be your physical residence or your email address. If your contact details change for any reason, it’s your responsibility to give your updated details to your provider to ensure that you receive all future correspondence.

1.  Overdue notice

An overdue notice will be issued to your last known address (email or postal address), informing you of the debt that is outstanding and the date the payment is due. This is the first written notice, which can be issued as soon as your payment is overdue.

2.  Notice of intent to default

A notice of intent to default will be issued if you do not pay the overdue amount by the revised due date. It must be issued at least 30 days after the first notice.

How long does a provider have to list the default after the notices have been sent?

Your provider must wait at least 14 days after the date of issue of the second notice, the notice of intent to default, before listing the default. This 14-day period allows you one final opportunity to pay the overdue balance.

Your provider must then disclose the default details to a credit reporting body (CRB) within three months of the notice of intent to default.

If you pay the debt in full, or if the overdue amount falls below $150 due to any payments you may have made prior to the default being disclosed to a CRB, your provider is prohibited from listing the default.

What amount will be listed as a default?

The amount listed on your credit report as a default must not be more than the amount that has been advised in the notice of intention to default. Any payments that you have made will reduce this amount. It can also include any interest or fees that may have accrued due to the payment becoming overdue.

What if you request hardship assistance?

If you make a request for hardship assistance to your energy or water provider, they’re not allowed to list a default on your credit report:

  • while the provider is assessing your hardship request
  • until 14 days after you’ve been informed of their decision to refuse your request for hardship.

What happens if you pay the overdue amount after it has been listed as a default?

When an overdue account has been disclosed to a CRB and listed as a default on your credit report, it can’t be changed or removed to reflect any payments that you may have made since. If you make full or partial payment to settle the debt, the status of the default will subsequently be updated to reflect that it has been paid.

How long will a default listing remain on your credit report?

A default will remain on your credit file for a minimum of five years from the date that it was listed. This is irrespective of whether you make a part or full payment to settle the debt at a later date. Information contained within your credit report will also advise of the removal date.

What can you do if you dispute a default listing?

There are three stages to making a complaint about a default listing on your credit report.

  1. First, you must raise a dispute with your energy or water provider, allowing a reasonable opportunity for the matter to be resolved.
  2. If you’re dissatisfied with the outcome of your dispute, you may submit a complaint to us.
  3. If you’re still dissatisfied with the outcome, you may make a complaint to the Office of the Information Commissioner.

How can you receive a copy of your credit file?

A CRB must give you access to your credit report for free once every three months. You can also receive a free credit report if you have been refused credit within the last 90 days or your credit reporting information has been corrected.

You can access a free copy of your credit file from any of the following CRBs:

The CRB must provide you with free access to your credit file within 10 business days of your request. However, you may be charged a fee if you require the information sooner.

Learn more about repayment history and defaults from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and remember to provide an up-to-date address and/or email address when you move.