Area of Law: Credit, Debt and Bankruptcy
Answer # 0287
Can I correct information on my credit report?Region: Ontario Answer # 0287
Your credit information is only as good as what is supplied to the credit reporting agencies. In other words, it is often up to you to correct an error or misstatement in your record.
What information is included in your credit report?
Your credit report generally contains three different types of information:
- Personal information that identifies who you are (e.g. your name, date of birth, address).
- Financial information about your overall financial history (e.g. have you had any bankruptcies, liens placed against your assets, types of credit you have such as credit cards and loans).
- Specific account information such as when you opened accounts, how much you owe, did you miss any payments, etc.
Request a copy of your credit report
To verify that the information is correct, you should first request a copy of your credit report. By law, you can request a copy of your credit report from both Equifax and TransUnion at least once a year for free, either online, by mail, fax or telephone. The report is called something different with each agency. With TransUnion, you must request a “consumer disclosure”, and with Equifax, you must request a “credit file disclosure”. You will have to provide personal information when making your request. To get a copy of your credit score, you will normally have to pay a fee.
What type of information could be incorrect?
Review all the information on your credit report. Confirm the following:
- your personal information is current,
- someone else’s personal information is not included,
- there are no debts listed that do not belong to you,
- there are no debts listed that you have paid in full, and
- there is no other incorrect information, such as information about payments.
Although these types of mistakes could occur because of a filing error, or a case of mistaken identity, you also want to be sure you are not a victim of identity theft.
How to correct errors or missing information on your report
If you identify errors on your credit report (or need to update information), contact the credit agency. Both TransUnion and Equifax have dispute resolution services that are free of charge.
You can contact TransUnion and request that an investigation take place, either by calling them or by downloading an Investigations Form, completing it and mailing it in.
If you find errors or missing information on your Equifax credit report, you must complete a Consumer Report Update Form, and submit it either by mail or by fax.
With both agencies you will have to provide:
- your full name
- your date of birth
- your current address
- any previous addresses (if at current address generally less than two years)
and information applicable to the errors or omissions you are trying to correct, such as:
- the name of the company responsible for the disputed item
- account numbers
- the reason for your dispute (e.g. you have paid the debt, the account is not yours etc.)
- any documentation to support your claim (e.g. records of payments made, or a copy of your birth certificate if your personal information is incorrect)
You may also be asked to provide your Social Insurance Number and employment information, but this is usually optional.
How does the credit reporting agency correct your report?
Once the agencies have received your request, first they will usually review your information against what is in their files. They may be able to correct the errors without any further investigation. If they cannot resolve the issue at this point, they will contact the company or financial institution that is involved:
- If it is confirmed the information on your report if incorrect, the agency will correct it.
- If it is confirmed the information is correct, the agency will not change your report.
The credit bureau will send you a written response usually within 30 days outlining what action it has taken to remove the errors or confirm that the information it has is correct. You will also be sent an updated credit report if changes have been made.
What if you disagree with the agency’s decision?
If you do not agree with the results of the agency’s investigation, you have a number of options:
- Contact Consumer Protection Ontario (part of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Affairs).
- Contact the Federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
- Contact the financial institution or company involved and have them contact the agency to correct the information.
- You can hire a lawyer, paralegal or credit report repair company to advocate on your behalf.
- If you have proof of the error or omission, and cannot get the individual, company or agency that is responsible to make the necessary notifications or changes, you can bring an action in Small Claims Court. If you succeed, a judge can order them to make the appropriate changes. In addition, you may also recover damages (if you suffered losses due to their negligence), as well as the costs of bringing the claim.
Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
Under PIPEDA, you have the right to:
- see personal information that a business holds about you,
- correct any inaccuracies, and
- lodge a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada if you are unhappy with how an organization is handling your information.
For additional information on how to correct errors made by a federally regulated financial institution, such as a bank, contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).
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