Understanding your credit report

March 29, 2015

credit reportWhat is a credit report?

Your credit history is being stored away, just like the credit history for millions of other people. This information is stored by at least one of two Canada’s largest credit-reporting agencies: TransUnion and Equifax. Your credit report is a general overview of your credit history. This is one of the primary tools that a lender will use in order to determine whether it is OK to provide you with credit or not.

Who can see your credit report?

Most people do not realize this, but you have the right to look at your own credit report. Unless you authorize them to do so, others cannot access the information in your credit report. Even though it is often hidden away in the fine print, you allow an organization providing you credit to look into your credit history. This is true when you sign the paperwork for a loan or a credit card application for example.

These credit agencies are only going to provide the credit report information if you give permission, and only if this information is related to an application for employment or insurance, rental of a house or an apartment, the collection of a debt, or credit application.  

What sort of information is in your credit report?

There is quite a bit of information in your credit report about your personal and financial situation, both past and present. Some of the information that you might find includes:

  • Personal information – Information such as your birth name, your current address, previous addresses, your social insurance number, date of birth, latest known phone number, and possibly your current and past employer(s).
  • Credit information – This includes all the information related to credit that you have already been provided. This could be a mortgage, a loan, a line of credit, but even a credit- or retail card.
  • Banking information – This pertains to information about your known bank accounts. This includes any ‘bad or bounced’ checks that you have written and NSF (non-sufficient funds) problems in the past.
  • Public records –This includes all the information available about you on a public record. This may include a credit-related court judgment against you in a lawsuit or previous bankruptcy. Loans that are backed by an asset (called secured loans) may show up here as well.
  • Collection information – If you have ever not paid your debt (or were unable to) and found that it was sent to a collection agency for payment, that information will show up here.
  • Consumer statement – This includes any statement released by you about a specific situation. For example, how you responded to a fraud warning or a dispute with a financial institution.
  • Credit report inquiries – This provides an overview of people or instances that have looked into your credit. This can be any authorized organization, or yourself.

How is your credit history described by a credit-reporting agency?

These credit-reporting agencies may describe your credit payments in a number of different ways throughout your credit report. These are the three most common methods:

By using a payment scale

This scale highlights how often you have paid your bills after the due date, 30, 60, or 90 days respectively.

By using a payment chart

This chart shows your payment history over the last two years.

By rating it

Some credit-reporting agencies itemize your credit history on a numbered scale, from 1 to 9. If you receive a 1, it means that you pay off your bills within 30 days of them being due. If you receive a 9, it would mean that you offered the lender a consumer debt repayment proposal or just never pay your bills.

There are also letters in front of the number. This letter stands for the type of credit you are using. The three options include “I” (credit on an installment basis, such as for a car loan), “O” (an open line of credit), and “R” (which stands for revolving credit, meaning you make regular payments in variable amounts, one example being a credit card).

What does a credit report look like?

If you want to see what reports from the two major Canadian credit-reporting agencies look like, we have a few sample credit reports for both Equifax and TransUnion. If you observe the examples, you can see what type of information you can come across. Keep in mind that these are for illustration purposes only, to help you understand your own credit report.

For more information you can call me right now: 416-825-7888 or email angela@azgta.com

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