What you should know
Your credit report details your history of paying bills and borrowing money. It also includes other information, such as where you’ve lived, where you work, even your marital status.
But certain information can’t be part of your credit report. This includes:
- information about any member of your family other than your spouse
- your race, religious beliefs, skin colour, sexual orientation, ethnic background, or political views
- criminal convictions that have been discharged or pardoned
- criminal charges that were withdrawn or dismissed
Say your credit report shows you’ve missed several utility bill payments. But you know your utility payments are up to date. You have the legal right to ask a credit reporting agency to fix any mistakes you find in your credit report.
The reporting agency has 30 days to respond to your request. If they agree to make the correction, they must do so promptly. They must send the new corrected information to anyone who received your credit report within the last year.
If the credit reporting agency refuses your request, they must tell you why. They have to give you access to an agency employee to answer your questions, and advise that you can ask for a review of the decision.
Plus, they must add a note to your credit report that you asked for the correction. You can also ask to add a short explanation.
If your credit report includes information you don’t recognize, you could be a victim of identity theft.
Contact the credit reporting agencies right away. Tell them about the suspicious charge. Discuss whether to have a “fraud alert” placed on your file. This tells lenders to contact you before approving loans on your account.
Work out the problem
Step 1. Check your credit report
Review the information on your credit report. Look for:
- mistakes in your personal information (for example, the wrong date of birth)
- errors relating to payments (for example, a payment you made on time that is shown as late)
- negative information about you that’s more than six years old
- accounts listed that you never opened — this could be identity theft
Step 2. Collect proof of your position
Make copies of any receipts, statements, or other documents that support your position. If your complaint is about an expired item in your credit report, find a supporting document with the date on it.
Step 3. Contact the reporting agency
Send the credit reporting agency a letter. Ask them to fix or remove the mistake in your credit report. Be specific about what information you want changed. Attach documents supporting your position.
Alternatively, both credit credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion, provide forms for requesting a correction. See the Equifax and TransUnion websites.
Step 4. The agency must act on your request
The credit reporting agency must acknowledge your request and tell you what they plan to do. By law, they can’t ignore you.
When the credit reporting agency gets your request, they’ll contact the creditor that reported the information. If the creditor agrees there’s been an error, the reporting agency will fix the problem. They’ll update your credit report. And send the new information to anyone who received your report in the last year.
If the creditor disagrees that there’s been an error, the reporting agency must add a note to your report about the correction you asked for.
The credit reporting agency can’t simply refuse your request. It must tell you why you were turned down. And give you a staff contact who can answer your questions.
Step 5. Contact the creditor
If you still disagree with the information in your credit report, contact the creditor directly. They may have made a mistake. Credit reporting agencies can’t fix mistakes made by creditors.
Ask the creditor about the error in your report. Ask them to check their files. Ask them to give the reporting agencies the latest information.
Step 6. Add an explanation to your credit report
We explain these additional steps (and more) in our expanded coverage of fixing a mistake in your credit report. See our in-depth page on this topic.
Who can help
Agencies that might be able to help if there’s a mistake on your credit report.
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
Consumer Protection BC
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
If you find a serious error in your credit report, or you suspect you may be a victim of fraud, consider getting legal advice.
Lawyer Referral Service
Access Pro Bono's Free Legal Advice
People’s Law School
Reviewed for legal accuracy by
Wendy Andersen, Digby Leigh & Co. and Casey Harris, Barrister & Solicitor
Dial-A-Law has more information on Credit reports in the section on Money & debt.