Who compiles your credit history?
In Canada, credit information is collected by two major credit-reporting agencies, Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. They record how you have used credit and whether you pay your loans and bills on time, as reported by your lenders. They may share that information with others only in certain circumstances, one of which is when you have provided your consent, such as when you apply for a loan.
Finding out what’s in your report is easy. You can pay a small fee to request a copy of your credit record online – I paid $15 – or obtain it for free if you send a request by mail or fax. It’s a good idea to check your record once a year to ensure that it’s accurate.
What’s in your report?
Your credit report contains relevant details about your personal and financial situation, such as:
Your basic personal information, including your Social Insurance Number Any credit you have, such as credit cards, loans or a mortgage
Public records such as a bankruptcy or court judgment in a lawsuit
Whether a debt was ever referred to a collection agency for payment as reported by a lender
Any inquiries about your credit report made by you, a lender or any other authorized organization
Mistakes can happen and you have the right to dispute any inaccurate information that may appear on your credit report.
You can find detailed guidance on how to correct an error through the FAQs and resources available on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website.
Why it’s important
The information in your credit history is the basis of your credit score, a measure that reflects your current financial situation and your ability to repay a loan.
Lenders take this score into account when you apply for a loan, mortgage or credit.
How to maintain a passing grade
To maintain a good credit rating, or improve one that’s not as good, the following dos and don’ts may help.
Pay your bills on time
Lower your debt ratio — the amount you owe relative to the amount you earn
Keep your credit balances well below their authorized limits
Close or cancel any credit accounts you don’t really need
Constantly max out your credit card limit
Be late with payments
Have your account sent to a collection agency
Ignore any debt issues TIP: The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) recommends that you not accept or use any form of credit before being comfortable with its terms and conditions, to avoid potential misunderstandings between you and the credit issuer that may end up in negative consequences.
Where to get help
To obtain your personal credit rating, contact Equifax or TransUnion. For more guidance, read the FCAC publication Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score.