To get a glimpse of your financial future, many businesses look at your financial past. This history is contained in your credit report. Your credit report determines everything from qualifying for a loan, the rate you'll pay on that loan, getting a new job, renting an apartment and obtaining car insurance.
What Is a Credit History?
Your credit history is a financial profile. It lets lenders, landlords and employers know how you have managed money in the past and helps them decide whether or not to do business with you. This history is contained in a credit report that is kept on file by the three independent credit bureaus listed below. It may include such information as:
- How promptly you have paid off credit cards and loans
- How well you have handled paying other bills, such as rent and utilities
- Your total outstanding debts
- How much available credit you have on credit cards and home equity loans
Who Can See Your Credit Report?
Your credit report can and most likely will be reviewed by anyone planning to give you a loan or credit, such as banks and credit unions, credit card issuers, auto financing companies, and insurance companies. Landlords and potential employers also may check your report. Some lenders may also use the details in your report to determine how much credit they are willing to offer you and at what rate. Anyone with a legitimate business need can access your credit report, though an employer (or prospective employer) typically requires your written consent to do so.
Beware of "Fast Fixes" For Accurate Credit Problems
If you’ve had any late payments, foreclosures, or repossessions, this information stays in your credit report for up to seven years. If you’ve filed for bankruptcy, this information can stay in your report for up to 10 years.
Some companies claim they can "fix" such problems for a fee. However, it is legally impossible to alter an accurate credit history. If you find yourself in financial trouble, contact Credit Canada, a registered Canadian charity providing free and economical financial counselling. Contact the Credit Canada by calling 1-800-267 2272 or visiting www.creditcounsellingcanada.ca.
Credit Bureau Contact Information
Once a year, it’s a good idea to check your credit report for accuracy, and you can do so for free through the three major credit bureaus. If you have ever taken out a bank loan, had a mortgage or used a credit card, you have a credit history. This information is available from a consumer-reporting agency. In Canada, provincial law governs consumer-reporting agencies. These agencies include Equifax Canada Inc., Northern Credit Bureaus Inc. and TransUnion Canada. (from Section 5.2a) Get your reports by contacting the bureaus directly:
Equifax Canada, Inc.
or in Québec : 1-877-713-3393