Credit and Personal Reports

What is a credit report?

The Fair Trading Act regulates credit reports under the Credit and Personal Reports Regulation section. The Act defines a credit report as a written, oral or other communication of credit information or personal information, or both, pertaining to an individual. “Credit information” can include information about an individual’s:

  • occupation;
  • current and previous employers;
  • places of employment;
  • place or places of residence;
  • marital status;
  • spouse’s or adult interdependent partner’s name and age;
  • number of dependents;
  • educational or professional qualifications;
  • estimated income;
  • paying habits;
  • outstanding debt obligations;
  • fines;
  • restitution orders;
  • cost of living obligations; and
  • assets.

 Last reviewed: October 2014

What information cannot be included in a credit report?

There is some information that a reporting agency can keep on file, but cannot provide in a credit report. This includes:

  • unfavourable personal information, unless the reporting agency has corroborating evidence of the unfavourable personal information, and the corroborating evidence is noted with and accompanies the unfavourable personal information;
  • unfavourable information about a debt if more than six years has elapsed since the date of the last payment on that debt or the date the debt was incurred, whichever is later;
  • information about a judgment more than six years after the judgment was given, unless the creditor or the creditor’s agent confirms that the judgment remains unpaid in whole or in part, and the confirmation appears in the file;
  • information about the bankruptcy of an individual more than six years after the date the individual was last discharged from bankruptcy, unless the individual has been bankrupt more than once;
  • information about charges against the individual under any federal, provincial or territorial law unless the charges resulted in conviction;
  • information about a conviction of the individual for offences against a law of any jurisdiction more than six years after the date of conviction or, where the conviction resulted in imprisonment, after the date of release or parole, and in no case may information about a conviction be reported if the individual has been granted a pardon;
  • information given orally, unless the content of the oral report is noted in writing in the file;
  • any other information adverse to the individual’s interest that is more than six years old, unless the information is voluntarily supplied by the individual to the reporting agency;
  • information about the race, creed, colour, ancestry, ethnic origin, religion or political affiliation of an individual;
  • information about the payment or non-payment of a lawfully imposed fine more than six years after the fine was imposed;
  • information about a court action or court proceeding more than 12 months after the commencement of the court action or court proceeding unless the current status of the action or proceeding has been ascertained and is included in the report.

 Last reviewed: October 2014

Is there any information which a reporting agency cannot collect or keep on file at all?

Yes. This includes information about:

  • an individual’s health and health care history, including information about a physical or mental disability;
  • an individual’s sexual orientation;
  • a member of an individual’s family, other than the name and age of that individual’s spouse or adult interdependent partner.

 Last reviewed: October 2014

When can a credit reporting agency provide your credit report to someone?

Credit reporting agencies are not allowed to give out an individual’s information to just anyone who wants it, regardless of the reason. The Fair Trading Act states that a credit report can only be given where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person receiving the report intends to use the information in the report:

  • in connection with the extension of credit to the individual to whom the report pertains, with the individual’s express consent;
  • in connection with the collection of a debt from the individual to whom the report pertains;
  • in connection with the entering into or the renewal of a tenancy agreement by the individual to whom the report pertains with the individual’s express consent;
  • for employment purposes, with the express consent of the individual to whom the report pertains;
  • in connection with the underwriting of insurance involving the individual to whom the report pertains, with the individual’s express consent; or
  • to determine the eligibility of an individual to whom the report pertains under a law, if the information is relevant to the eligibility requirement;
  • there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person has a direct business requirement for information in the report as a result of a business transaction respecting the individual to whom the report pertains with the individual’s express consent;
  • the report is furnished to the Director of Fair Trading or an inspector named under the Act, the government of Canada or of a province or territory, a municipality in Canada or any of their agencies;
  • the person is the individual to whom the report pertains or if the person has the express consent of the individual to obtain the report;
  • in response to the order of a court; and
  • in circumstances specified in the regulations.

 Last reviewed: October 2014

Can I explain or justify items that appear on my credit report?

An individual has a right under the Act to provide a written explanation or additional information of 100 words or less to elaborate on any piece of information within his or her file. This written explanation, once added to the file, must be sent along with any credit report that is given to a third party. This explanation will remain on the file for up to six years, but can be removed earlier at the request of the individual to whom the report pertains.

 Last reviewed: October 2014

Can I correct errors in my creditor report?

If there is an error in your credit report, you can file a written statement of protest. This statement must be submitted to the reporting agency and must be 100 words or less.

Once this statement of protest is filed, the reporting agency has 45 days to check the accuracy and completeness of the information disputed and respond to you. This statement of protest must then be included in every credit report provided by the agency until the error has been corrected, confirmed, supplemented or deleted. Once this has been completed, the agency must provide an updated copy of the report to you and, unless you request otherwise, to every person to whom a report was given pertaining to the individual within the past six months.

 Last reviewed: October 2014

What remedies do I have if I suffer harm as a result of my credit report?

If a reporting agency or any other person contravenes the rules in the Fair Trading Act and its regulations regarding credit and personal reports, you may be able to sue them for damages. The Act specifically states that if an individual suffers “loss, damage or inconvenience” resulting from someone’s contravention of the Act, that individual can sue them in court for the damages they suffer.

 Last reviewed: October 2014

Links

Fair Trading Act

Service Alberta

See Also

For more information, see these other Canadian Legal FAQs.

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