Watching Your Credit Rating
Under the Consumer Reporting Act, you have the right to get a copy of your credit file from a credit reporting agency. These agencies collect credit information which they sell to financial institutions who grant loans and credit. You should get your credit file if you have any concerns that a credit reporting agency has inaccurate information about your creditworthiness. Obviously, this could have a negative effect on your ability to obtain a loan, credit card and etc. I should mention that not everyone has a credit record. Usually, they are compiled because of a judgment, bankruptcy or difficulties paying bills in the past.
Two major credit reporting agencies; Equifiax Canada, Montreal and TransUnion Canada, Hamilton, can be contacted for the necessary form, which must be submitted to correct the information. Both have websites also where the forms can be downloaded and any search engine should be able to give you the website address.
There may be (and often is) incorrect or outdated information in these records. For example, you may may be a judgment against you for a Small Claims Court action which you paid it shortly afterwards directly to the plaintiff. This payment may not show up in your credit file. I understand that Equifax will shortly be introducing a secure online system so that people can do this on the internet.
If you have a dispute about your credit record with an agency, you can seek assistance from the Registrar of Consumer Reporting Agencies at the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, 1-800-268-1142 (but be prepared to wait on the phone...this is a government office after all).
Now a word about credit repair companies. These companies advertise that they can help you repair your credit. Frankly, they cannot do anything that you would not be able to do for yourself. Under a recent Regulation passed under the Consumer Reporting Act, they have to point this out.
The new Regulation also spells out rules about what they can promise to do and the following conditions must be met before can promise to repairs a person's credit:
they reviewed the credit file they found inaccurate information
they can "materially" improve the credit record
Clearing up spelling mistakes or correcting dates would probably not cut it in terms of "materially" improving the credit record. Also, there is a 5 day cooling off period for contracts with credit repair businesses. Further, credit repair companies are prohibited from getting payment in advance.
In summary, your credit record is important and if you have had some problems in the past, or there have been some mistakes by the agencies in recording the information, hopefully the legislation will assist you in getting it in back into shape.
Should you have any questions for Ask A Lawyer, please direct them to the Simcoe Reformer or ask a lawyer of your choice.