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Privacy Commissioner says Veda charges are unlawful

The credit reporting agency, Veda Advantage, is charging consumers an unreasonable sum for urgent requests for credit information, says the Privacy Commissioner.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says people making urgent requests for their credit information are likely to be in a vulnerable position because they have a pressing issue regarding their credit.

Veda is obliged to provide free access as soon as reasonably practicable but the law does provide for an ability to charge a reasonable fee if the information is requested on an urgent basis.

The company’s practice is to offer individuals a personal credit file for $51.95 where information is provided urgently, or to provide a free credit file in 20 days which the company describes under a sub-heading as “Want your credit report but have 20 days to spare?”

The credit report that Veda provides for urgent requests costing $51.95 includes standard credit information, a credit score and explanatory notes relating to the credit information.

John Edwards says the step of naming Veda was not taken lightly but done to draw consumers’ attention to the issue.

He says Veda is not legally entitled to charge for some of the aspects that make up its charge for urgent requests. The Privacy Act requires that any reasonable fee should be nominal and the company’s charge exceeds this by a large margin.

“We received a complaint that Veda was charging too much for credit information when people needed the information urgently. While we closed that complaint, it did not resolve our concerns about the charge for urgent requests and so we started an investigation into the wider practice.

“At this stage, we have not investigated other credit reporters. We are now considering whether to broaden our probe to include other credit reporting agencies.”

Veda is not the only credit reporter in New Zealand, but it is one of the largest. It is not the only credit reporter that charges consumers seeking urgent access to their credit reports.

“If you are going to need a credit report on your finances, I urge you to make that request sooner so it can be dealt with in 20 days, otherwise you will get hit with an unfair and unlawful extra cost,” Mr Edwards said.

The Privacy Commissioner’s report into Veda Advantage’s charge for urgent requests for personal information is available here.

ENDS

Note for Editors:

For further information, contact Charles Mabbett 021 509 735.