Creditinfo Guyana is working to make personal credit reports accessible online by January 2019 but before this can be possible the general public needs to be made more aware of the agency and its function.
Legally each Guyanese is entitled to a free credit report within every 12-month period and Creditinfo offers paid packages for those who wish to access their report more frequently but few persons are utiliising this service.
According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Creditinfo Guyana, Judy Semple-Joseph outreaches to all majors areas of the country: Linden, Berbice, Essequibo, West Demerara and some of the new townships have been planned so that when the agency’s App is rolled out in January 2019 persons would be inclined to use it.
“We recognized that we needed to engage the public so persons can have better understanding of what are responsible credit behaviours…by January persons will have a sufficiently good understanding of what Creditinfo exists to do and how the information we provide to them can be useful in terms of encouraging more responsible borrowing, good financial management of their own resources as well as how they can use this information to improve their own lives” she told a press conference at the agency’s New Market Street Office yesterday.
It was explained that the Credit Reporting (Amendment) Act of 2015 mandates all lenders in the financial sector to first acquire a credit report before a loan application can be processed. Additionally comprehensive data on all borrowers in Guyana is now being routinely and regularly uploaded to Creditinfo’s database for use in creating credit reports.
Twenty-six subscribers including all commercial banks, microfinance companies, all utilities, insurance companies, credit unions, Courts Guyana, trade creditors in the the commercial sector and the Ministry of Finance Student loan agency are currently accessing information from Creditinfo at a rate of approximately 4,000 reports per month.
However only about 40 borrowers requested their personal credit report from Creditinfo in that same period.
“Our subscribers have direct access to our data and requests from institutions run into the thousands depending on how many people apply for loans but the number of borrowers accessing their own reports is small and we would like to see it grow. People come to us after the bank has refused to grant them a loan which shouldn’t be. Individuals must take responsibility and know before they go,” Semple-Joseph explained noting that the Credit rating runs from 250 to 900 with 250 being terrible and 900 excellent.
David Falconer, Sales and Business Development Manager stressed that the gap in the types of requests worries the agency.
“On the one hand we have legislation that says lenders must pull a credit report before they can consider an application for a loan and then on the other hand it says lenders must upload all their information to our database which is what we use to create credit reports but in the middle we have the consumer, many of whom are not aware of their personal credit position. They often discover that it may not be as optimum as they wish it to be when they go to the bank or they approach a lender for credit,” he explained.
According to Falconer the financial sector sees the benefit of having this information to guide lending decisions and is no longer lending based on what a borrower claims but is now basing their decisions on an objective assessment of the personal financial position of the borrower.
“We would like to see people being aware of their personal credit situation which would help them to manage it in a way that puts them in a better position to shop around and negotiate for better terms such as lower interest rates or improve the credit standing,” he stressed.
Semple-Joseph also explained that if one is planning to apply for a mortgage or relatively large loan and they have other small outstanding debts, they can pay these off, wipe the slate and then approach the bank with vastly reduced payment obligations and better credit options.
This action can howerver only be taken if they know their credit history.
Anyone wishing to access their credit report can visit the agency’s New Market Street office with their Identification card to complete a credit request form.
Other than the one free report, borrowers can access one report every quarter at a cost of $5,000 per annum or any number of reports at a cost of $8,000 per annum.
“Because we are custodians of sensitive data we have to be careful of circumstances under which we share this data,” Falconer explained noting that the information received from financial agencies is subjected to a series of checks and balances before it is uploaded to Creditinfo’s database.
Though the process is “not perfect”, Falconer stressed that the agency is working hard to ensure what is reflected in the database is accurate.