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Creditors use credit bureaus in Canada to check a consumer’s creditworthiness before extending credit. Lenders tend to have a preference of either Equifax or TransUnion, but some will check both. Understanding what a credit bureau is, how they get their information, and how to monitor the information contained in your credit report will help you down the road when applying with potential lenders and creditors.
What is a Credit Bureau?
A credit bureau also referred to as a consumer credit reporting agency, is a business that gathers and compiles information regarding consumer’s credit history from banks, financial institutions, and other organizations, like courthouses and the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. A credit bureau uses the information they’ve gathered about individual consumers and creates a credit report and score which then becomes available to a variety of lenders and other financial institutions. In Canada, there are two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, that lenders refer to when analyzing your creditworthiness.
What is the average credit score by province? Click here.
There is a common misconception that credit bureaus make lending decisions, however, this is incorrect. A credit bureau is an independent third-party company that relays information between the consumer and the lender. The consumer’s information is made available to lenders by credit bureaus but, at the end of the day, the final lending decision lies with the creditor.
How Do Credit Bureaus Collect Their Information?
Credit bureaus rely on creditors and lenders for the information they need, not every single creditor reports to both credit bureaus (although, most major lenders do report to both) if they report to them at all, which can cause a discrepancy between your reports from Equifax and TransUnion. Part of the data that is sent to credit bureaus from creditors is your account’s status and payment history, both of these factors contribute to your credit score.
How long does information stay on your credit report? Find out here.
Other information that credit bureaus collect is your personal information, such as your legal name and address, credit account information, inquiry statistics, public records, and collections information. Lenders are interested in how you’ve handled debt in the past, although, they also consider additional details which is why credit bureaus gather extensive data.
Credit Score Ranges in Canada
Getting a Free Copy of Your Credit Report in Canada
Every twelve months, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from Equifax and TransUnion as a Canadian. You can obtain your free copy by phone, in person, mail or fax with Equifax. With TransUnion, you can attain your free copy online, by phone, mail or in person, but not via fax.
Do you know how to read your credit report? Learn here.
Mail or Fax
First, you need to download and complete the Canadian Credit Report Request Form from Equifax. Next, you’ll need to provide a photocopy, including the front and back, of two pieces of valid current Canadian government issued identification. Acceptable documents include:
- Driver’s license
- Canadian passport
- Canadian citizenship card
- Permanent resident card
- Social insurance card
- Birth certificate
- Certificate of Indian Status
- Proof of current address if it does not match the above documents, such as a utility bill or bank statement
The last step is to mail the form and photocopied documents to:
Equifax Canada Co.
National Consumer Relations
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2
Or fax to: (514) 355-8502
There are four Equifax locations where you can obtain your free copy in person. You’ll be required to bring with you two pieces of identification that are valid and current showing photo identification and proof of your current address. Anything from the list above is acceptable, however, physical copies are required as opposed to digital copies or photocopies.
You can obtain your free copy of your credit report from Equifax by calling 1 (800) 465-7166 which is an automated tool that uses your personal information to authenticate your identity. A part of the process is entering your social insurance number, be sure to have it handy when you call.
Interested in how your credit score is calculated? Click here.
To obtain your free copy through the mail, complete the Consumer Request report from TransUnion. There is a version for Quebec residents and one for all other Canadian residents, be sure to download the correct form as per your circumstances. The information you’ll need handy is:
- Your name
- Your address
- Previous address if you’ve been at your current address for less than two years
- Date of birth
You have the option to provide your social insurance number, employment information, and telephone number as well, then the last step is to sign the form. With the form you’ll also need to send photocopied copies of two pieces of identification showing your name, date of birth, current address, and signature from the following list:
- Drivers license
- Canadian passport
- Certificate of Indian Status
- Birth certificate
- Permanent Resident card
- Citizenship and Immigration form
- Old Age Security card
- Department of National Defence card
- Provincial Photo ID
- Utility bill with the address you currently live at
- Credit card statement indicating address you currently live at
- CNIB card
- Social Insurance card
- T4 slip from current tax year
- Notice of Assessments from the current tax year
- GST/HST refunds from current tax year
- Child tax benefits from the current tax year
The last step is to mail the signed form with the photocopied documents to TransUnion:
Correspondence in English
TransUnion Consumer Relations Department
P.O. Box 338, LCD1
Hamilton, ON L8L 7W2
Correspondence in French
Centre de relations aux consommateurs TransUnion
CP 1433 Succ. St-Martin
Laval, QC H7V 3P7
In order to get your free copy in person, you’ll need to visit the TransUnion office location in your province. You’ll need to bring two physical documents from the list above that show your full name, current address, date of birth and signature.
Finally, you can attain your free copy via phone by calling 1 (800) 663-9980 (Prompt 1).
For even more information about getting your credit report, click here.
What is a Credit Pull?
A credit pull or inquiry is a request by a retailer, financial institution or any other individual to view your credit report. Third parties can pull your credit report to review your creditworthiness and other details before extending credit. There are two types of credit pulls, hard inquiries and soft inquiries. Only you can see your soft inquiries, but hard inquiries are visible to anyone who looks at your report.
Anytime a potential lender looks at your credit report, a hard credit inquiry occurs. An example of a hard inquiry is when you apply for a mortgage and the lender pulls your credit report to determine your worthiness for extension of credit.
On the other hand, a soft inquiry occurs when a routine check is performed on your report without your permission. Soft inquiries happen when a creditor you’re currently working with checks your credit to ensure you’re still creditworthy or when you check your report yourself.
Check out this infographic to learn how bad credit can affect your daily life.
Which Banks Use Equifax Canada?
- Bank of Montreal (BMO)*
- TD Canada Trust (TD Bank)
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
- National Bank*
- Meridian Credit Union
Which Banks Use Transunion Canada?
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
- Bank of Montreal (BMO) *
- National Bank*
- Laurentian Bank
- Bridgewater Bank
*These financial institutions may pull from either or both bureaus depending on application type.
What Credit Bureau Do Credit Card Companies Pull From?
- Amex Bank of Canada TransUnion
- Capital One Equifax and or/ TransUnion
- PC Financial Equifax and/or TransUnion
- MBNA TransUnion to start then Equifax if additional information is needed
- CAA Mastercard TransUnion
- Wal-Mart MasterCard TransUnion
- Bell Mobility/Virgin Mobile Equifax
- Borrowell Equifax
- Canadian Tire (CTFS) TransUnion
- Rogers Wireless/Fido TransUnion
- Telus Mobility/Koodo Mobile Equifax
- Chase Canada Equifax
Credit Bureaus and You
Now that you’re more knowledgeable on credit bureaus and how they assist lenders and consumers, you can make use of your new understanding when you apply for credit or a loan in the future. If you have any additional questions, Loans Canada can help!
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