What is CTOS? CTOS stands for Credit Tip-Off Service, an information system usually used by financial institutions, commercial companies and business, legal firms and other institutions in Malaysia. In contrast to CCRIS that is owned by Bank Negara, CTOS is owned and managed by a company called CTOS Data Systems Sdn. Bhd, the largest private credit agency in Malaysia that has been in operation for over 20 years. The main objective of this company is to organize individuals and companies’ information from different sources available in the public domain. The information is then entered into an electronic database in order to provide efficient, quick and easy checking for loan applications, business and trade credits and to be used as a decision-making tool by credit lenders or grantors to decide if they should lend the money to the applicant or not.
CTOS information can be found in sources including:
- Legal notices seen in newspapers
- Searches at CCM, Companies Commission or Malaysia or SSM, Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia
- Government Publications and Gazettes, searches at MDI, Malaysia Department of Insolvency or Jabatan Insolvensi Malaysia
- Searches at NRD, National Registration Department or JPN, Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara
- Searches at ROS, Registrar of Societies
- Contact information that is provided by creditors, trade referees and litigators
- Information that is provided by the individuals on a voluntary basis
It is also understood that only CTOS subscribers are given access to CTOS information database. Despite what some people might think, CTOS is not considered as a blacklist as it does not evaluate an individual’s or a company’s credit worthiness by not offering any opinions, ratings, rankings or recommendations on them. Money lenders or credit grantors are the ones that solely determined the loan policies and approvals, not CTOS. Another important thing to take note of is that CTOS does update its records and it acts as an electronic library filled with historical information that is extracted from publicly available sources and archives such as the list mentioned above. CTOS updates its records whenever there is a case settlement and it captures information on the plaintiff, defendants, lawyers from plaintiff and defendant or any new information from the related documents. The updates are done on a daily basis and for deletion requests, supporting documents must be provided to CTOS for verification and checking prior to deletion. Unlike CCRIS where records are only kept for a maximum period of 12 months, CTOS records are kept forever as a historical archive of an individual or a company’s history and experiences.
A typical CTOS report has 5 different categories and they are Section A, Section B, Section C, Section D and Section E.
Section A consists of Identity Verification and it helps to identify and verify the individual’s full name and identity number or the company’s business registration number. The objective of Section A is to detect and prevent identity theft and fraud.
Section B consists of Internal List and Group Exposure and it is meant for the subscriber’s own information and reference. The information found in this section is only exclusive to the subscriber’s own personnel and no other subscribers can access this information.
Section C deals with the Directorships and Business Interests by recording an individual’s directorships and shareholding in Malaysian business or incorporated companies. Section C is mostly used by banks to verify and ascertain the real income of the business owners and company shareholders.
Section D consists of Legal Actions Against and it is used to record legal information in order to provide a better insight and understanding on the individual’s history, background and business experience. Banks usually use this section to find information related to an individual’s or a company’s bankruptcy, case statuses and legal actions.
Section E consists of Trade Referees and Subject Comments. Trade Referees are defined as CTOS subscribers that would like to share their business experiences or also known as Trade References on individuals and companies that they have dealt with. As the Trade References are not CTOS but the subscriber’s own information, the trade reference is typically done directly by using an email exchange between the trade referee and the inquirer. On the other hand, subject comments are defined as a facility that is provided by CTOS in order to allow parties that are involved in a legal case to present their side of the story and comments are only allowed to be objective and related to the case.
Sometime back in 2016, CTOS Data Systems Sdn. Bhd announced the introduction of CTOS Score, a credit score that will be used to evaluate the risks of consumer’s credit based on 5 different categories known as payment history, length of credit history, amount owed, credit mix and new credit. A CTOS score is ranked from 300 as very bad to 850 as very good or excellent. This new CTOS score provides Malaysians a definite and reliable way to check the health of their credits which in turn gives them the power to control the outcome of their credit applications and to easily view the mistakes they have made on the credit. With such information, an individual will know what needs to be fixed and what needs to be improved on by looking at the factors that are affecting his or her credit score negatively and practical tips will also be provided at the same time on how an individual can improve his or her credit score based on their specific circumstances. As your credit score may increase over time with good behaviours, it can also work against you with bad behaviours hence you are advised to check your credit score once every 3 months to ensure that you remain at the top of your credit score on a consistent basis.