What is a credit report?
Your credit report is a snapshot of your financial history. It is one of the primary tools that credit grantors, like banks and credit card companies, use to decide whether to grant you credit.
What is in my credit report?
Your credit report may include the following information:
- Identifying information: Your name, current and previous addresses, Social Insurance Number, telephone number, date of birth and current and previous employers
- Credit history: History of payments to credit grantors (such as retail stores, banks, finance companies)
- Public records: Items that may affect credit worthiness such as bankruptcies and judgments
- Inquiries: A list of credit grantors and other parties authorized by you and/or by law that have received your credit information
- Other information, which could include banking information and/or collections
Your credit report does not include your income, purchases paid in full with cash or cheques, or information about business/personal accounts (unless you are personally liable for the debt). It also does not include any information about your medical history, ethnicity, political affiliations or criminal record.
What is a consumer reporting agency or credit bureau and what does it do?
Consumer reporting agencies, like TransUnion, serve consumers and businesses by providing credit information and risk management tools to help businesses make credit-granting decisions.
Lenders and other institutions provide credit bureaus with factual information about how their customers pay their bills and other debts. Credit reporting agencies compile payment histories, along with public record information, into a “file” for each consumer. Credit grantors and authorized institutions obtain credit reports about individual consumers. Consumers benefit through faster credit decisions.
TransUnion generates millions of credit reports each year to make buying on credit fast, easy and safe for qualified applicants.
How does information get on my credit report and is it updated on a regular basis?
Lenders provide updates on your account activity to at least one of two credit bureaus in Canada —TransUnion and Equifax. Since lenders do not necessarily report to both bureaus, the information on your credit reports may vary. Lenders also report activity to the credit bureaus at different times during the month, which may result in slight differences in your reports and credit scores.
Why is my credit report necessary? What purpose does it serve?
When you apply for credit, like a mortgage, car loan, a new credit card, apply for a job or want to rent an apartment, companies need a way to gauge your credit worthiness. Your credit report includes a record of your financial reliability.
What is an inquiry?
An inquiry is a notation on your credit report that someone received information contained in your credit report. To assist organizations with credit, tenancy, employment or insurance decisions, they may request your consent to obtain your credit report. Credit bureaus only disclose credit-related inquiries to other companies viewing your credit file. A large number of inquiries over a short period of time may have a negative impact on your credit score.
When you apply for credit, companies may request your consent to access your credit report to assist in their decision. Each time they request your report for credit-related purposes, an inquiry is listed on your file. These inquiries will be disclosed to other companies viewing your credit file and may impact your credit score.
Non-Credit Related Inquiries and Account Review Inquiries:
Non-credit related inquiries and account review inquiries, as well as your own requests to view your credit file, have no impact on your credit score. Companies may, with consent or as authorized by law, access all or part of your credit information before completing a transaction or entering into a relationship with you for purposes other than credit (non-credit related inquiries) and/or to periodically review your credit file after establishing a relationship with you (account review inquiries). Companies perform non-credit related and account review inquiries for such things as verifying your identity, collecting on a debt, employment or tenancy screening, insurance underwriting, fraud detection, meeting regulatory requirements, account renewals, limit changes, monitoring or for products and services offerings.
Non-credit related and account review inquiries may be used (without disclosing the details of such inquiries) by TransUnion to provide fraud detection and monitoring, identity verification, alerts and analytical services to our customers and may be disclosed to deliver products that you have requested through a direct-to-consumer reseller.
How long does information stay on my credit report?
Positive credit information, like information about paid accounts with no negative history, may remain on your credit report for up to twenty years. By sharing this information with creditors, lenders see the types of credit you managed successfully in the past and recognize your previous good credit history, even when you have limited or no current credit history.
Adverse credit history, collections and defaulted accounts that were not settled through a debt repayment program (i.e. orderly payment of debt, credit counselling, consumer proposal), are removed automatically from your credit report after six years from the date the account first went delinquent.
Public records such as judgments and bankruptcies may report on your file for 6 to 10 years depending on the province.
In the case of multiple bankruptcies, each bankruptcy will report for 14 years from the date of discharge.
TransUnion may delete credit information reported about you by a data supplier if our relationship with the data supplier comes to an end. The end of a data supplier relationship may impede our ability to maintain a current and accurate credit file and/or carry out our investigation procedures. We delete credit information in these circumstances to ensure that your credit file remains as accurate, complete and up-to-date as possible.
Who can access my credit report?
Provincial and federal laws outline the requirements for what organizations may access your personal credit information. As part of the credit application process, organizations ask for your consent to access information about you. They may also request a credit report when they are looking to collect on a debt, or if you have applied for employment, tenancy, or insurance. Finally, you also have the right to access your credit report.
Is there a place where I can explain information on my credit report?
Absolutely. You have the right to attach a statement to your credit report that explains why, for example, you have a few late payments on your record. The statement remains for six years and is viewable by companies receiving a complete copy of your credit report. Life is complicated, and this statement may convince an otherwise apprehensive lender to give you a chance.
How often should I check my credit report?
You should review your credit report at least once a year to make sure the information is accurate. If you are planning important financial transactions over the next few months, you should review your report well before you expect these transactions to occur. That way, you have enough time to contact the credit reporting agency if you have questions or need amendments.
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