Credit Bureau and Reporting
The information contained in this section is intended as general information to assist in understanding some of the many issues associated with credit reporting. This information is not a substitute for legal advice.
Although similarities exist between all Provinces in Canada, it is important to note that the content contained herewith is based on the legislation and guidelines in the Province of Alberta.
Capital Credit & Consulting is a member of the appropriate credit reporting agencies and associated organizations. Information pertaining to collection accounts and legal accounts can be listed and circulated to ensure awareness and accountability.
Credit reporting is by far the largest misunderstood aspect of the collection industry. The relevant legislation and guidelines are largely misunderstood and misinterpreted by consumers, debtors, and some legal practitioners. When a consumer is referred to a collection agency for collection action or legal action, the relevant information can, at the discretion of the collection agency, be submitted to the credit reporting agencies. Many consumers and credit professionals alike interpret the listing of debt information, whether alleged or other, as an assertion of liability or guilt. Some go so far as to believe that information cannot be sent to the credit reporting agency unless a court has issued a judgment in support of the debt. These grossly inaccurate interpretations give debtors and Defendants alike, the false belief that they are victims of slander, libel, and/or defamation of character, and are entitled to monetary damages for the same.
A delinquent debt, whether alleged or not under a contract or other, can be submitted to the credit bureau whether or not the debtor or Defendant is in the dispute of the same.
Information provided by Alberta Government Services For Consumers:
Your ability to get a loan or credit depends on your ability to repay the debt and having a good credit history. Often people think of this as their “credit rating”. When you apply for credit, lenders want to know about your employment history, your income, your marital status, debt payment history and your assets. Lenders get this information from your application and from reporting agencies.
Reporting agencies are private businesses that keep files of information on individuals who apply for credit. The information is available on request to members, which may include merchants, banks, landlords, employers, and collection agencies.
In Alberta, the Fair Trading Act and the Credit and Personal Reports Regulation identify what can be included in and released from your credit file. Some useful definitions for this resource are as follows:
- Credit Information: information about your name, age, occupation, previous employers, past and present addresses, marital status, spouse’s name and age, number of dependants, education, past and present employment, estimated income, paying habits, existing debts, and present cost of living.
- Personal Information: information about your character, reputation, health, physical or personal characteristics or lifestyle or any other information that is not considered credit information.
- File: all information about you that is recorded and kept by a reporting agency.
- Record: the credit and/or personal information provided by the reporting agency in any form.
What is in the credit file?
Your credit file can contain all of the information included in the credit information definition above. The reporting agency must make sure the information is correct and fair. The information must be based on reliable sources. It is an offence under the Act to provide false or misleading information to a reporting agency. The agency must tell you where they got the information from unless the source is obvious.
Your credit file cannot include the following information:
- unfavourable personal information (see definition) unless it has been confirmed and the source of the information is on the file;
- health or health care history;
- unfavourable information about a debt if more than 6 years has elapsed since the date of the last payment on that debt or, where no payment has been made on that debt, if more than 6 years has elapsed since the date the debt was incurred;
- judgments more than 6 years old unless the creditor confirms in the file that the debt has not been paid;
- bankruptcy if you were discharged over 6 years ago, unless you have been bankrupt more than once;
- legal charges if you haven’t been convicted;
- convictions, fines, and prison terms more than 6 years old;
- court actions taken against you in the past year unless the report includes the current status;
- race, creed, color, ancestry, ethnic origin, religious or political affiliation;
- family details other than the name and age of your spouse; and
- any other information more than 6 years old unless you voluntarily give it to the agency.
Finding out what is in your file
You or your representative has a right to find out what is in your file. Make sure you both have identification. Your representative also needs proof that he or she is your representative. Without identification and proof, the reporting agency doesn’t have to provide the information.
When asked, the agency must show you:
- all the information in the file as of that date;
- where the information came from unless it is obvious; and
- who has received a report in the last 6 months.
You can make notes from your file or ask for copies of any reports the reporting agency has provided in the last 6 months. The agency may charge you a reasonable fee to look at your file or make copies.
Correcting information in your file
If you find information on your file that you disagree with, you have the right under the Act to explain or protest. To explain or add information to your file, write a statement of 500 words or less. The agency must put this information on your file and include it in any report it provides about the item in question.
If you believe an item on the file is not accurate or complete, write a statement of 500 words or less to the agency explaining why. The agency must check the accuracy or completeness of the information. Within 90 days, it must confirm, correct, add to or delete the information. If the agency corrects, adds to or deletes information, it must tell you and everyone who received your report within the last 6 months.
If you have lost money, suffered damages or been inconvenienced because the agency or someone reporting information about you did not follow the rules, you may have the right to sue.
Who can get a report?
Reporting agencies can provide reports to lenders, insurers, your creditors, and anyone involved in business transactions with you. Anyone you authorize in writing can also get reports.
How to build and keep a good credit record
- Pay your bills promptly, especially credit cards;
- Borrow only what you need and what you can afford;
- Try to pay off loans on time and as quickly as possible;
- Get reference letters from landlords and creditors and add them to your file;
- Make sure incorrect information is removed quickly;
- If you are having difficulty paying a bill, contact the creditor immediately; and
- If you are ill or disabled, find out if you have insurance on the loan or credit card that will make the payments when you can’t.