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Credit Rights in Canada Part 1

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Credit Rights established by provincial statute to protect Canadian consumers

Your rights as a consumer are protected in Canada by both provincial credit reporting laws and federal privacy legislation. 

These two articles summarize both aspects of your credit rights under these statutes:

For instance, across the country, all credit reporting agencies (CRA) must conform to the provincial credit reporting legislation to protect the rights of consumers. At the federal level, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act outlines requirements of organizations which can maintain personal information in the course of their business activities.

Provincial Legislation has several core values that all provinces must follow in their statues

Although credit reporting legislation is regulated at the provincial level, there are core requirements that are consistent with each province. These requirements are outlined below.

Access to your information is limited

Provincial credit reporting legislation outlines purposes for which it is permissible for organizations to request information from a CRA. These purposes must relate to activities such as credit decisions, employment decisions, tenancy decisions, insurance decisions, or any decision where the information serves a direct business need. CRA information can also be requested in connection with collecting a debt. 

You must be told if information in your file has been used against you

Anyone who uses information from a CRA to take action against you -- such as denying an application for credit, insurance, or employment -- must tell you, and give you the name, address, and phone number of the CRA that provided the consumer report.

You can find out what is in your file

At your request, a CRA must give you the information in your file, and a list of everyone who has requested it recently.

You can dispute inaccurate information on your file

If you tell a CRA that your file contains inaccurate information, the CRA must investigate the item(s), usually within thirty (30) days. To investigate your dispute, they will contact the source of the information to verify the reporting. If the investigation does not resolve the dispute, you may add a brief statement to your file.

Inaccurate information must be corrected or deleted

A CRA must remove or correct inaccurate of unverified information from its files, usually within thirty (30) days after you notify them of your dispute. Previous inquirers must be notified of a change made to your report

If your dispute results in a change to your file, the CRA is required to send notice to anyone who received your credit file within a specified timeframe. This timeframe varies in accordance with provincial legislation, however you can request for a specific inquirer to be notified about the amendment.

Maximum reporting times are outlined for negative information The CRA is required to remove information related to unpaid debts, judgements, and bankruptcies after a specified time. These timelines are outlined by province below.

  • Adverse Information (i.e. late payments, unpaid debts/collections)
    - Six Years: British Columbia, Alberta, & Nova Scotia;
    -Seven Years: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, & Newfoundland.
  • Judgement Information 
    -Six Years: British Columbia, Alberta, & Nova Scotia
    -Seven Years: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, & Newfoundland;
    -Ten Years: Prince Edward Island.
  • Bankruptcy Information for First Time Bankrupts
    -Six Years: British Columbia, Alberta, & Nova Scotia;
    -Seven Years: Ontario, Prince Edward Island & Newfoundland;
    -Fourteen Years: Saskatchewan & Manitoba.

Note: provincial credit reporting legislation outlines maximums for the reporting of individuals' first bankruptcy. There is no restriction on reporting bankruptcy information for individuals who file more than once.

Federal legislation also protects the credit rights of Canadians. 

For more see Part 2 of this article.

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A CRA must remove or correct inaccurate of unverified information from its files, usually within thirty (30) days after you notify them of your dispute. Previous inquirers must be notified of a change made to your report

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