The government spies on you all the time.
Okay, I’m being dramatic here — but I’m not lying either.
They actually keep a record of all the money you owe (assuming that you borrow money through banks), and how good you are at paying your debts.
What’s more — all the banks have access to this information. They look at it every time you apply for credit; be it a car loan, a home loan or a credit card.
If you’ve ever wondered how banks decide to lend you money or not, here’s one of the major factors: the powerful credit report.
Credit Reports and “CCRIS”
What’s a credit report?
It’s a document that pulls information from a computerized database system, the Centralized Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS), and displays the information below:
- Outstanding credit. (How much you owe, to whom you owe, and how good you’ve been at paying in the past 12 months.)
- Special attention accounts. (Your debts that are under close supervision.)
- Applications for credit. (A history of your credit applications in the past 12 months.)
It’s like a report card on how trustworthy you are to the banks. And helps them answer this question: “Should I lend him money?”
Can you escape the watchful eye of
Skynet CCRIS, you ask? No — if you borrow money from any bank, it goes into the centralized system. And Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) Credit Bureau is empowered by law to store that information.
p.s. Outstanding PTPTN loans now show up in CCRIS too. So if you haven’t started paying your PTPTN loan, now would be a good time.
So How Do I Get My CCRIS Credit Report?
The great thing about all this is you can walk into a BNM branch office and ask for a copy of your credit report.
They’ll do it for free, and you can get it on the spot.
You just need to bring your MyKad, your thumbs, and other supporting documents that can verify your identity (e.g. driver’s license or passport).
And it’ll look like this:
(courtesy of BNM’s excellent Credit Bureau website)
You can also get your CCRIS credit report without physically visiting BNM. It’s a bit more troublesome though. Find out how here.
Can I Get Credit Reports Elsewhere?
Here’s where things get a little more interesting. Apart from Bank Negara, there are private companies in Malaysia that also provide credit reports. These companies are known as Credit Reporting Agencies, and are licensed under The Credit Reporting Act 2010.
“But why would I get a credit report from a third party, if I could get it directly from Bank Negara?”
There’s really two reasons:
- You might not be close to a BNM office.
- Credit reports from Credit Reporting Agencies contain more information than just CCRIS reports.
To avoid confusion, let me repeat that again: Credit reports from Credit Reporting Agencies can pull information from CCRIS too. But they contain additional helpful information.
Here’s an example: I recently had a credit report done by one of the reporting agencies: RAM Credit Information (RAMCI). The total report was about four pages long. The CCRIS portion took up two pages, while other portions took up another two pages.
Tell Me More About These Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs)
There are reportedly six licensed CRAs in Malaysia. But BNM says only three have access to individuals’ information in CCRIS:
- CTOS Data Systems Sdn. Bhd. (CTOS)
- Credit Bureau Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (CBM)
- RAM Credit Information Sdn Bhd (RAMCI)
(I didn’t look too deeply, but I believe the other CRAs focus on credit reporting for companies.)
Anyway, besides pulling data from CCRIS and passing it on, CRAs can show you additional information like:
- Advice on how to improve your credit score.
- Shareholding, directorships and business interests (companies you’re currently or previously a big boss in.)
- Legal history (if someone is currently suiing you.)
- Bankruptcy action (if you’re currently listed as bankrupt.)
- Trade references (information from third parties, regarding your debts to non-banking institutions.)
- Enquiries made on you (if companies have been checking up on your credit history.)
What Can I Use My Credit Report for?
The first use of credit reports is to help you understand what the banks think of you. Here’s a personal example:
It’s been nine years since I started earning money, but I’ve never checked my credit report before. For the past few years I’ve felt pretty smug about my finances. But when I checked my credit report recently — it fell short of the highest grade. The reason? My habit of applying for credit cards, which was probably too frequent for CCRIS’ liking.
I would have never known though, if I hadn’t done the credit report. I would have thought all the banks still loved me like a son.
Awareness has other uses. For example, iMoney tells us that every time you get an application rejected by a bank, it’s a red flag for all the other banks. Because they can all see your history for 12 months, it’s better to not blindly apply — but to check first.
If you’re not confident about your credit history, but need to borrow money:
- Get a credit report done.
- Fix the issues; best as you can.
- Get another report done to see if your score’s improved.
- Then, apply for your loan.
Also, I’ve been told that if you show up to the bank with a strong credit report, they’ll approve your loan application faster. And that you can use it to negotiate for a better interest rate.
Finally, a credit report can also help you check for discrepancies in your financial history. For example, if you’ve already cancelled a credit card, but it’s still showing activity — perhaps a thief is holidaying in London at your expense.
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While it’s pretty common to read about credit scores overseas, most Malaysians still don’t know about them.
But there’s a saying that goes:
“Self-awareness is the first step to improvement.”
If you’re worried about your financial health, and want to improve — I encourage you to give it a try, and get a report done. Besides, the basic reports are free, so it’ll only cost you a bit of time and effort.
It could be a catalyst towards you improving your finances. And maybe seeing yourself from a different perspective could help you learn something new about yourself too.
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If you’d like to get your own credit report done, sign up with RAMCI here. Packages start from a very affordable RM 15.90.
I received a free credit report from RAMCI worth RM 10 in the process of writing this article. Thanks guys!
Pic from Pexels.