Credit and Credit Repair

Credit report, credit score and credit rating

Credit Report: A credit report is a detailed report of your credit history and is kept by at least one of Canada's credit-reporting agencies.

Credit Score: Your credit score is an up-to-date rating of your financial health. It shows lenders the level of risk if they lend you money.

Credit Rating: A credit rating is a rating of each of your credit history items on a scale of 1 to 9. These ratings are made by credit-reporting agencies.

Request your credit report

You can get your credit report for free. This allows you to see your credit rating and gives you a chance to correct any mistakes on the report.

Correct a mistake on a credit report

Your credit information can be kept by more than one credit reporting agency. Since these agencies do not always share information, it's important for you to check all of your credit reports carefully. If you find an error in your credit report, you can take steps to have the error corrected.

Improve your credit score

If your credit score is not as high as you think it should be, check the information in your credit report. If the report is correct, read it carefully to find out what might be bringing down your score. You can then work to improve your credit score.

Hire a company to change your credit rating?

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.


Warning Signs of Debt | Ways to Reduce Your Debt | "Last Resort" Options | Collection Agencies | Credit Reports, Credit Scores and Credit Repair | Resources on Personal Finances and Debt | Glossary of Terms

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Credit Report / Credit File

Along with the credit histories of millions of other people, your credit history is recorded in files maintained by at least one of Canada's major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. It is possible to obtain your credit file for free. Please consult the agencies' websites in order to obtain more information. These files are called credit reports. A credit report is a "snapshot" of your credit history. It is one of the main tools lenders use to decide whether or not to give you credit.

Your credit file is created when you first borrow money or apply for credit. On a regular basis, companies that lend money or issue credit cards to you, including banks, finance companies, credit unions, retailers, send specific factual information related to the financial transactions they have with you to credit reporting agencies.

Summary of methods to request your credit report and their respective characteristics

Mail

Advantages
  • Free of charge
Disadvantages
  • Credit score is not provided
  • Can take some time to receive

Internet

Advantages
  • Almost instant report
  • Option to get credit score
Disadvantages
  • Fee charged

Credit Score

Your credit score is a judgment about your financial health, at a specific point in time. It indicates the risk you represent for lenders, compared with other consumers.

There are many different ways to work out credit scores. 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. Lenders may also have their own ways of arriving at credit scores. In addition, lenders must decide on the lowest score you can have and still borrow money from them. They can also use your score to set the interest rate you will pay.

Credit Rating

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 at all or that you have made a consumer debt repayment proposal to the lender. A letter will also appear in front of the number: for example, I2, O2, R2. The letter stands for the type of the credit you are using.

  • "I" means you were given credit on an installment basis, such as for a car loan, where you borrow money once and repay it in fixed amounts, on a regular basis, for a specific period of time until the loan is paid off.
  • "O" means you have open credit such as a line of credit, where you borrow money, as needed, up to a certain limit and the total balance is due at the end of each period. This category may also include student loans, for which the money may not be owing until you are out of school.
  • "R" means you have "revolving" credit, where you make regular payments in varying amounts depending on the balance of your account, and can then borrow more money up to your credit limit. Credit cards are a good example of "revolving" credit.

The most common ratings are "R" ratings. These are known as North American Standard Account Ratings and are the most frequently used. The "R" indicates that the item being described involves revolving credit. If you always pay on time, it will be coded an R1. If an amount was written off because you never paid it back, it is coded R9. The R ratings are a coding system that translates "on time", "one month late", "two months late", etc., into two-digit codes.3

North American Standard Account Ratings : "R" Ratings

R0: Too new to rate; approved but not used.
R1: Pays (or paid) within 30 days of payment due date or not over one payment past due.
R2: Pays (or paid) in more than 30 days from payment due date, but not more than 60 days, or not more than two payments past due.
R3: Pays (or paid) in more than 60 days from payment due date, but not more than 90 days, or not more than three payments past due.
R4: Pays (or paid) in more than 90 days from payment due date, but not more than 120 days, or four payments past due.
R5: Account is at least 120 days overdue, but is not yet rated "9."
R6: This rating does not exist.
R7: Making regular payments through a special arrangement to settle your debts.
R8: Repossession (voluntary or involuntary return of merchandise).
R9: Bad debt; placed for collection; moved without giving a new address or bankruptcy.

NOTE : Other rating indicators that might be found on a report are "I" for installment credit or "O" for open credit line.

Source : Equifax Canada

More Information

To see examples of what credit reports look like and to get more information on credit scores, visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's publication entitled Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score.

Here are Canada's major credit-reporting agencies:

Equifax Canada
Tel: 1-800-465-7166
Fax: 514-355-8502

TransUnion Canada
Tel: 1-866-525-0262 (except in Quebec)
Tel: 1-877-713-3393 (Quebec residents)

Next Page — How to request a copy of your credit report / file?
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Various Methods

Summary of methods to request your credit report and their respective characteristics

Mail

Advantages
  • Free of charge
Disadvantages
  • Credit score is not provided
  • Can take some time to receive

Internet

Advantages
  • Almost instant report
  • Option to get credit score
Disadvantages
  • Fee charged

By mail — free of charge1

If you make your request in writing and send it by mail, the credit-reporting agencies will provide you, by mail, with a free copy of your report. It is important, however, that in your request you include a copy of two pieces of I.D. Contact the credit-reporting agencies to find out which pieces of I.D. are acceptable. You will find the coordinates for each agency below.

Online — some fees apply

You can also order your credit report through the reporting agencies' websites. This method is faster since you will receive your credit report online only a few minutes after you made the request. However, credit-reporting agencies charge a fee for providing you with an online copy of your credit report.

  • Equifax Canada: Consumers may obtain a copy of their credit report, plus credit score, and a score analysis online in Canada, for a fee. They provide consumers online, real-time access to their credit information. Consumers provide personal information during the order process for their credit information so that their identity can be verified.2
  • TransUnion: Consumers are asked to provide information that confirms their identity, plus valid credit card payment information, when applicable. Following a confirmation of their information, consumers may view their TransUnion Personal Credit Report & Score online. Ordering online is available to current or former residents of Canada. Fees may vary by province.3

Credit Report Samples — what do they look like?

If you want to know what a credit report looks like and what it contains, you can visit Credit reports and scores for more detailed information.

Coordinates for each credit reporting agency

Here are Canada's two major credit-reporting agencies:

Equifax Canada
Tel: 1-800-465-7166
Fax: 514-355-8502

TransUnion Canada
Tel: 1-866-525-0262 (except in Quebec)
Tel: 1-877-713-3393 (Quebec residents)
Fax: 905-527-0401

Next Page — What to do if there is a mistake on my credit report / file
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1 Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score. (Return to reference 1)

2 Equifax Canada. (Return to reference 2)

3 TransUnion. (Return to reference 3)

What to do if you find errors in your credit report / file?

It's a good idea to request a copy of your credit report from the two credit-reporting agencies at least once a year to verify that your personal information is up to date, that your financial information is correct, and to ensure that you have not been the victim of identity fraud. Because your credit information can be kept by more than one credit-reporting agency, and because those agencies do not necessarily share information, it's important to check all credit reports carefully (it is possible to obtain your credit file for free once a year — please consult the agency's website in order to obtain more information).

Errors can include someone else's information on your file; debts listed that aren't yours; debts listed that have been paid in full; and incorrect payment history.

If you do find information in your file that is inaccurate or incomplete

You have the right to explain or protest. Contact the credit reporting agency regarding their dispute resolution process. If you still do not agree with an item following the Agency's investigation, TransUnion and Equifax websites inform you as to how you can add an explanatory statement to your report.

If you are still not satisfied that your file is correct:

  1. You may wish to contact your provincial / territorial regulator responsible for consumer affairs (as credit reporting agencies falls under provincial / territorial jurisdiction). Here is the complete list from the Canadian Consumer Handbook.
  2. You can also contact the Federal Privacy Commissioner (except in the case of Quebec, B.C. and Alberta where you should contact the Provincial Privacy Commissioner). The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) also sets out ground rules for how private sector organizations can collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities. Under PIPEDA individuals have a right to see the personal information that a business holds about them, to correct any inaccuracies and to lodge a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada if they are unhappy with how an organization is handling their information.

Please note: If the incorrect information comes from a federally regulated financial institution, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) website provides additional information on how to get errors corrected.

Coordinates for the major credit reporting agencies in Canada:

Equifax Canada
Tel: 1-800-465-7166
Fax: 514-355-8502

TransUnion Canada
Tel: 1-866-525-0262 (For all residents except Quebec)
Tel: 1-877-713-3393 (For Quebec residents)

For more information on credit reports and scores, please visit the publication called Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score published by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Next Page – Improving your credit score
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