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Q&A on Credit Data

When you apply for credit in Hong Kong, financial institutions can check your credit data through a credit reference agency to assess your creditworthiness and determine how much credit they are willing to offer you and at what rate. In Hong Kong, the Code of Practice on Consumer Credit Data under the Privacy Ordinance sets out the guidelines on how financial companies can use your credit data.

1. What data is contained in your credit report?

  • Identification information – name, address and contact details
  • Credit facilities obtained in the past two years – credit provider, type of credit facility
  • Credit facilities applied for in the past two years
  • Credit card loss data – date, amount of loss incurred in the past two years
  • Default data – amount of late payment, the length of time overdue
  • Credit report access details

2. When can a financial institution access your consumer credit data?

  • A financial institution can provide new consumer credit data for an individual, based on a new transaction. (E.g. a new facility was granted)
  • Reviewing an individual's request for credit, or renewal of existing facility
  • Monitoring an individual's indebtedness in the case of default

3. Which data cannot be shared by a credit provider to the credit reference agency?

  • Residential mortgage loan – details of an individual's mortgage account cannot be shared. (except when that person has defaulted in repayment for more than 60 days)
  • Non-credit based information – income, employment, personal assets

4. How long can a credit reference agency keep data?

  • Five years for data on credit facilities, credit applications, credit card loss, credit report access data
  • Seven years for public record data, and any data relating to the recovery of a debt, except data related to personal bankruptcies
  • Eight years for data related to personal bankruptcies

5. What safeguards exist against possible misuse of consumer credit data by financial institutions?

  • The Code of Practice on Consumer Credit mandates that consumer credit data may only be accessed by financial institutions for specified purposes. (Please see answer to question 2)
  • Consumer credit data cannot be used by financial companies for marketing purposes.
  • Financial institutions and credit reference agencies can face litigations from individuals for failure to comply with the Code.

Source: The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data