Area of Law: Credit, Debt and Bankruptcy
Answer Number: 0286
What is a credit report?Region: Ontario Answer Number: 0286
What is a credit report?
Credit reporting agencies collect information about your credit history, such as credit and debt information from banks, lenders, credit card companies, leasing firms, courts, etc., and record it in a credit report. They also provide credit scores and credit ratings that are based on this information, that are used by lenders to determine if you are not only a good risk to lend money to, but how much, and for what rate.
What information is in a credit report?
Your credit report is created the first time you apply for credit or borrow money. A credit report generally contains three types of information:
1. Personal information that identifies who you are, such as your:
- current and previous addresses
- Social Insurance Number
- telephone number
- current and previous employers
- date of birth
2. Financial information may include:
- bankruptcies, consumer proposals, legal judgments, debt management programs,
- non-sufficient funds payments, or bad cheques,
- chequing and savings accounts closed due to money owing or fraud committed,
- types of credit you have used, including credit cards, retail or store cards, lines of credit and loans,
- credit report requests in the past three years from lenders or others,
- liens have been placed on your assets, and
- consumer statements, fraud alerts, and identity verification alerts made about you.
3. Information on specific accounts such as:
- when you opened the accounts,
- how much you owe,
- do you make payments on time,
- have you missed payments,
- has your debt been transferred to a collection agency, and
- did you go over your credit limit.
Each separate credit account you have will have a credit rating, which is a code that reflects how and when you make payments.
What information is not in a credit report?
A credit report will not include information about:
- your income,
- medical history,
- if you have a criminal record, or
- purchases you made that were paid in full, or paid with cash or cheque.
Who can access your credit report?
It is not only banks and other lending institutions that can access your credit report in order to decide whether to loan you money or give you credit. Other types of businesses and individuals may also be allowed to see your credit report, including:
- car leasing companies
- insurance companies
Is consent needed for others to access your credit report?
In all provinces except Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan, permission or consent is required before a business or another individual can access your credit report.
In Ontario, the Consumer Reporting Act regulates who can see your credit report, how they can use it, and how you can correct any mistakes it may contain. For more information, visit ontario.ca.
How to get a copy of your credit report
In Canada, you can request and receive a copy of your credit report from both Equifax and TransUnion for free, once a year. You will normally have to pay a fee to get your credit score.
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 can order your credit report by mail, fax, telephone or online, depending on the agency.
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