Your Credit Report

What is a credit report?

What cannot be included in my credit report?

How do I request a copy of my credit report?

What about errors on my credit report?

Who else can request a copy of my credit report?

What is a credit report? 

A credit report is a snapshot of your credit history.  It is created and maintained by a credit reporting agency. It contains detailed information on your credit activity and history, including:

  • credit accounts and loans
  • bankruptcies
  • late payments
  • recent inquiries.

With your permission, banks and other lenders can see your credit report to determine your creditworthiness.

What cannot be included in my credit report?

  • Information about your gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, political belief or activity, creed or religion, race, colour, ancestry or national origin.
  • Information about your health or medical history, including information about any physical or mental disability.
  • Details on account history if more than six years have passed since the day of the last payment on a debt.
  • Details on a bankruptcy:
      • If the bankruptcy was your first one and you received a bankruptcy discharge (a court order that relieves you from your obligation to pay the debt) more than six years ago; or
      • If you were bankrupt twice, the first bankruptcy cannot be included on your credit report if both bankruptcies were discharged, and more than six years have passed since the discharge of your first bankruptcy.

How do I request a copy of my credit report?

There are two national credit reporting agencies in Canada: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. You should check with both agencies. They must provide you with a report once per calendar year at no charge. However, they may charge a fee for additional reports or information.

What about errors on my credit report?

Once you receive a copy of your credit report, you should verify that your personal information is up-to-date and the report contains no errors. It is important to check all credit reports carefully. Errors can include debts you have paid in full or incorrect personal or financial information.

If you have concerns about the accuracy of your credit report information, you can ask the credit reporting agency to correct the error. The agency may ask you to provide proof of the error. Upon your request, the credit reporting agency must notify anyone who received a copy of your report that the information has been corrected. 

Who else can request a copy of my credit report?

With your permission, lenders and creditors, insurance companies, landlords and even potential employers can access your credit report. Your credit report helps these organizations in deciding when to give a consumer credit, tenancy for an apartment or insurance.

Credit Reporting Agencies

A credit reporting agency creates, maintains and collects information regarding your credit history from various sources such as banks, mortgage companies and credit card companies. On a regular basis, companies that lend money or issue credit cards to you send specific information on the financial transactions they have with you to credit reporting agencies. The Credit Reporting Services Act in New Brunswick ensures that credit reporting agencies collect, maintain and report your credit and personal information responsibly.

Credit reporting agencies use this information to calculate your credit score. Your credit score provides a picture of your financial health at a specific point in time. It indicates the risk you represent to lenders.The credit-reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion use a scale from 300 to 900. High scores on this scale are good. The higher your score, the lower the risk for the lender.

Some credit-reporting agencies report the lenders' rating of each of your credit history items on a scale of 1 to 9. A rating of 1 means you pay your bills within 30 days of the due date. A rating of 9 means that you never pay your bills. To find out more information on how credit reporting agencies work, visit the federal government’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

Repairing Your Credit

Credit Repair Companies

There is no reason for you to pay a company to rebuild your credit rating. There is nothing they can do to change your credit rating that you cannot do yourself. The only way to rectify a poor credit rating is to adopt sound credit practices for a period of time.

Credit repair companies are not regulated, approved, registered or licensed by the federal or provincial governments.

What are my credit rights?

A credit repair company cannot require or accept payment or security for payment before causing a material improvement to your credit report, credit information, file credit record, credit history or credit rating.

You may cancel a credit repair agreement up to 10 days after you receive the agreement by providing a notice of cancellation. The credit repair company has 15 days to provide a refund of any payment that you made.

How do I improve my score?

Having a good credit report may make it easier for you to receive loans or credit cards, or rent apartments. You should always try to maintain good credit history. Often, the only way to improve a poor credit rating is to pay your debts and allow time to pass to show that your payment habits have improved.

Here are some tips to help you improve your payment habits:

  • Pay your bills and payments on time and accurately.
  • Monitor your reports and make sure any misinformation is corrected as soon as possible.
  • Be aware of any credit or loan agreements as a default in payment can harm your personal credit file.
  • If you think you will have trouble paying a bill, contact the lender right away. See if you can work out a special arrangement to repay your debt.
  • Don’t apply for credit too often and avoid going over your credit limit.

Credit Repair or Savings Loans

Some credit repair companies claim they can fix or build your credit rating right away with a credit repair loan, or a savings loan.  Before you sign up, make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to.  Building and repairing credit takes time.  These companies claim to be able to do it instantly, but that may not be true.

If you are building up credit or repairing credit you may only be able to access “secured credit.” You will have to give the lender a security deposit. If you can’t pay back the loan, the lender keeps your security deposit. 

Credit repair companies offer credit repair loans without asking for a security deposit.  But these loans work differently than a traditional loan. They do not give you the money you borrowed up front.  They put the money aside for you.  As you pay the loan back over time, you get access to the money. This is to show that you can make regular debt repayments on time.  These payments count as debt repayment on your credit rating. 

The interest and fees charged for these loans could be expensive. In fact, you may not get any money back because of service and set up fees. Paying bills on time is one of the most important factors in determining your credit rating.  Regular payments on any loan will show up on your credit report, but they won’t repair your credit rating right away. If you’re trying to repair your credit, there is no overnight fix.  You may be just as, or more successful by making regular payments on your own on any existing debt or bills.

Related Resources

Credit and Debit
Saving and Spending
Build a Budget that Works
Settling Debt - What you need to know

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