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Why Should I Care About My Credit Report?

If you’re at the point in your life where you’re thinking about borrowing money for a new car or condo, a great trip, or about to have a major change in your lifestyle, then you’ve heard people mention credit scores, the need for a “good credit” history and credit reports.

On this page, we’ll answer the top 6 questions we get about credit reports. Other pages will handle everything you need to know about managing your credit including credit scores.

Why Should I Care About My Credit Report?

Your credit report has up-to-date information about your credit card accounts, loans, and debt repayment history. Banks and credit card companies use credit report information to decide if they want to lend money or issue a credit card to you, how much they are willing to lend and the interest rate they will charge.

What’s on My Credit Report?

  • Credit History: Shows your payment history on loans and credit cards
  • Public records: Bankruptcy, court judgments or other public data about you that would help a bank or credit card company decide if they want to lend money or issue a credit card to you
  • Credit score: Is a number between 300 and 900 that a credit bureau calculates based on its own formula, using the information on your credit report. A high score is a signal to credit card companies and banks that you have a solid history of paying bills and loans on time.
  • Inquiries: Each time you apply for a loan or credit card, your report records the “credit inquiry.” Banks and credit card companies become concerned when there are too many credit inquiries over a brief time. Non-credit related and account review inquiries, and your own requests to view your credit file do not matter.
  • Other information: your name and personal information, banking data and if a bank or credit card used an outside collection agency to collect on your overdue bills

What’s Not on My Credit Report?

Information about your income, cash or Interac purchases, most business or personal bank accounts, medical history, ethnicity, political affiliation or criminal record is not on your credit report.

How Does My Credit Report Happen?

Reporting agencies or credit bureaus like TransUnion create your credit report. Lenders and credit card companies regularly provide these agencies with facts about their clients’ loans, credit card balances and repayment history. The agency then creates an individual credit file with all the information they collect. Banks, credit card companies and other authorized businesses receive credit files and use them to make decisions about granting credit and loan details.

How Long Does Information Stay on My Credit Report?

Positive information about loans you’ve repaid, and on-time credit card balance payments can stay on your report for up to 20 years. Negative information like past due bills and not repaying a loan stay on your report for 6 years. Public records like bankruptcies stay on your file for 6 to 10 years depending on the province

Who Can See My Credit Report?

Provincial and federal laws cover the organizations that can access your personal credit information. When you apply for a loan or credit card, lenders ask for your consent to access your credit report. Some companies may review your credit report when you apply for a job, a new apartment or insurance.

Can I Get My Credit Report?

Absolutely! You can get your credit report for free and online from TransUnion, Equifax and Credit Karma to name just a few companies. Review your credit report at least once a year to make sure the information is right. You can attach a statement to your credit report that explains why, for example, you have a few past due payments on your record. Your statement stays on your file for six years. Companies that receive a complete copy of your credit report see your statement.