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Who has access to your credit report

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Banks, businesses, and others may wish to see your credit report. It helps them decide whether to lend you money or do business with you. But it contains information you may want to keep private. Learn who can access your credit report.

What you should know

A credit reporting agency can’t share your credit report without your permission. (There are three exceptions, which we’ll explain in a minute.)

When someone looks at your credit report, it’s called a “credit check.” You don’t have to consent to a credit check. But if you refuse, the other party may decide not to do business with you.

Your consent to a credit check may be folded into an application form. For example, an application for credit, insurance, employment or tenancy. By signing the application, you’re agreeing to the check.

But by law, the consent must be prominent and easy to understand.

Pro tip: Before signing an application form for credit, a job, or an apartment, make sure you read the full application. If you don’t want the other party to access your credit report, discuss this with them.

In some cases, credit reporting agencies don’t need your consent to share your credit report. You don’t have a choice when your report is requested by:

  • the federal, provincial or municipal government
  • the police, for the purpose of an investigation
  • anyone with a court order allowing access to your credit report

Work out the problem

Think someone got their hands on your credit report who shouldn’t have? Here are steps you can take.

Step 1. Order (and review) your credit report

Step 2. Contact the credit reporting agency

Step 3. Ask for a review of the agency’s decision

Step 1. Order (and review) your credit report

First, order a copy of your credit report. We offer guidance on how to do that. See ordering your credit report.

Look at the list of credit inquiries in your report. (A credit inquiry means someone has ordered a copy of your credit report.)

Step 2. Contact the credit reporting agency

Are there names or businesses you don’t recognize in the list of credit inquiries? Contact the credit reporting agency who prepared the report. In Canada, the two agencies are Equifax and TransUnion. Ask them to explain — in writing — what's going on. See the website for Equifax or TransUnion.

Step 3. Ask for a review of the agency's decision

If you aren’t satisfied with the credit reporting agency’s response, ask for a review of their decision to release your credit report. Direct your request to the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Your request must be made in writing. There's a form on the Privacy Commissioner's website you can use. See the Commissioner's website. Or you can send a letter or email. Make it clear what you're asking the Commissioner to review.

If you’d like to go deeper, we have more detailed guidance on this topic. See our in-depth page on who has access to your credit report.

Who can help

This agency may be able to help if someone gets access to your credit report without your permission.

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner logo
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
Oversees BC's laws relating to privacy and access to information.
Call 1-800-663-7867Send an emailVisit website

If someone gets access to your credit report who shouldn't have, consider seeking legal advice.

Access Pro Bono logo
Lawyer Referral Service
Helps you connect with a lawyer for a free half-hour consult.
Call 1-800-663-1919Visit website
Access Pro Bono logo
Access Pro Bono Clinics
Volunteer lawyers provide free legal advice to people with limited means.
Call 1-877-762-6664Visit website
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People’s Law School
See more options for free or low-cost legal help.
Visit website

  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed in February 2020
  • Time to read: 3 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Wendy Andersen, Digby Leigh & Co. and Casey Harris, Digby Leigh & Co.

Wendy Andersen, Digby Leigh & Co.
Casey Harris, Digby Leigh & Co.

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This information from People’s Law School explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada. The information is not intended as legal advice. See our disclaimer.

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On Dial-A-Law

Dial-A-Law has more information on Credit reports in the section on Money & debt.