How to read a credit report?

Please keep in mind that this is just a quick overview of the subject. If you have any other questions, we strongly suggest you consult the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada article .

Your credit report represents you as a consumer and debtor; it shows how and why you use credit at your disposal. Any Canadian who has any credit also has a credit report that includes all information relative to their credit history. These data are compiled by the credit agencies Equifax and TransUnion.


Who has access to your credit reports?

Who has access to your credit reports?

Any potential creditor can ask the agency to consult your credit report. For example, creditors can look at your credit history, credit rating, and past financial problems to assess creditworthiness. People with a good credit rating and few financial problems are often perceived as being more creditworthy and therefore can get a loan more easily.

Although less common, employers and homeowners that you rent may ask you to provide a credit report. They do it only to assess your reliability; Popular belief is that people with good credit scores are more reliable in general.

Finally, you too can request a copy of your credit report. Keep in mind however that this copy will not display your credit score.


What information is in my report?

What information is in my report?

Although both agencies have their own system for compiling information, you can expect to find the following information:

Personal information

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your present address and past addresses
  • Your phone numbers, current and past
  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Information on your driving license
  • Your passport number
  • Your current employer and the employers of the past

Information about your credit history

  • All your credit accounts and all transactions: credit card, customer card, line of credit and personal loan.
  • Your cell phone and home phone account
  • Bad point: fraud, closing accounts, etc.
  • Public and legal information: bankruptcies, judgments, pledges on houses or automobiles
  • Collection credit accounts
  • Credit applications from creditors, owners and employers
  • Information about fraud alerts and identity checks


Does the negative information stay on the report forever?

Does the negative information stay on the report forever?

Negative information can only appear on your report for a specific time; it’s the law in Canada. Although the rules and laws vary from province to province, the information is on your report for about 6-7 years.

To learn more about the different rules applicable in different provinces, click here to visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website.


How do your debts appear on the report?

How do your debts appear on the report?

When your debtors and creditors send information to the credit reporting agencies, it appears with a letter and a number. That’s what each letter and number means:

  • “I” means that you have been granted an installment loan, such as a car loan; you borrow money once and repay it in installments at a fixed amount, at regular intervals, for a pre-established period until the loan is repaid.
  • “O” means that you have an open credit as a line of credit; you borrow money, if necessary, up to a certain limit and whose total balance is due at the end of each period. This category may also include student loans for which the money is due only after your studies are completed.
  • “R” means that you have obtained a “renewable” credit; you repay money regularly by paying variable amounts based on your account balance, which allows you to borrow additional money up to your credit limit. Credit cards are good examples of “revolving” credit.
  • “M” mainly concerns mortgages. Note that not all mortgages appear on the report.

Figures represent a ranking

  • 0: Too recent to be rated; allowed but not used
  • 1: Pay (or paid) within 30 days of the due date or no more than one late payment.
  • 2: Pays (or paid) within 30 days of the due date or no more than 60 days or two late payments.
  • 3: Pay (or pay) within 60 days of the due date or no more than 90 days or three late payments.
  • 4: Pays (or paid) within 90 days of the due date or no more than 120 days or four late payments.
  • 5: Account still at least 120 days late, but not filed 9.
  • 6: This rating does not exist.
  • 7: Makes payments regularly under a special agreement to settle debts.
  • 8: Resumption of possession (voluntary or involuntary, return of the goods).
  • 9: Bad debt, placed in recovery; moved without giving new address or bankruptcy.

Each credit account you own will be associated with a letter and a number. So anyone who consults your report will be able to see what type of credit you have chosen and how that credit is rated.


Want to improve your performance?

credit loan

Now that you better understand what a credit report is, you surely want to improve your financial health. For this, take a look at our Credit Enhancement Programs

For more extreme cases, please consult our page on debt consolidation and debt resolution

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