Credit Rating and Reestablishment of Credit
Credit bureaus, or credit reporting agencies, collect information about consumers’ financial affairs and sell the information to their clients, such as credit grantors, employers, and insurance companies. These agencies obtain information from various sources, for example:
- From the consumer who provides information when filling out an application for credit or a loan;
- From public records which provide information related to such matters as bankruptcy, court judgments, and conditional sales contracts;
- From credit grantors and collection agencies who provide credit files on a monthly basis. These files contain information such as the account number, the outstanding balance, and a nine-point rating scale, for example: R1 indicating that payment was made on time; R2 that payment was made 30 days late, but not more than 60 days; and R9 indicating a bad debt or one that has been placed for collection and it also applies to bankruptcy.
It should be noted that your credit rating is set by your creditors. Credit bureaus only pass on that information to their clients.
Generally, information concerning your bankruptcy could show up on your file for a period of 6 to 7 years after your discharge. If you have been bankrupt before, this period could be extended to as much as 14 years. This period could vary from one province to another.
The decision as to whether or not to grant credit to an applicant is made by the credit grantor, not the credit bureau. It is the lender’s individual credit scoring system that determines access to credit.
Should you wish to improve your credit record after obtaining your discharge from bankruptcy, you could, for instance, contact your banker and request a meeting. For this meeting, you could bring your pay cheque stubs, your budget, and your discharge papers. You could explain that you have obtained your discharge and ask the banker how you can earn your way back to a good credit record.
Trustees do not report to or have access to Credit Bureau information.
Every piece of credit history information in your credit file is assigned a rating by the credit grantor. The most common ratings are “R” ratings. These are known as North American Standard Account Ratings and are the most frequently used. The “R” indicates that the item being described involves revolving credit. If you always pay on time, it will be coded an R1. If an amount was written off because you never paid it back, it is coded R9. The R ratings are a coding system that translates “on time”, “one month late”, “two months late”, etc., into two-digit codes.
Your Credit Rating – What it Means
|R0||Too new to rate; approved but not used|
|R1||Pays (or paid) within 30 days of payment due date or not over one payment past due|
|R2||Pays (or paid) in more than 30 days from payment due date, but not more than 60 days, or not more than two payments past due|
|R3||Pays (or paid) in more than 60 days from payment due date, but not more than 90 days, or not more than three payments past due|
|R4||Pays (or paid) in more than 90 days from payment due date, but not more than 120 days, or four payments past due|
|R5||Account is at least 120 days overdue, but is not yet rated “9”|
|R7||Making regular payments through a special arrangement to settle your debts re: O.P.D. or Proposal|
|R8||Repossession (voluntary or involuntary return of merchandise)|
|R9||Bad debt; placed for collection; moved without giving a new address; bankruptcy|
Other rating indicators that might be found on a report are “I” for installment credit or “O” for open credit line.
Investigating Your Own Credit Rating
Under consumer legislation governed by each province, you are entitled to a copy of all the information a credit agency has on you.
There are three credit reporting agencies in Canada: Equifax, Northern Credit Bureaus and Trans Union.
If you want a copy of your credit report, mail or fax a request with copies of two pieces of identification to the companies. In a couple of weeks, they will mail your report to you. The service is free.
If you do not wish to wait, you can visit the offices of Credit Counselling Services of Alberta in Calgary or Edmonton to obtain a copy of your Equifax Credit Report. The cost is $15.00 and you must bring 2 pieces of ID. OR purchase your credit report online from Equifax for $14.50
You can dispute errors in your report. Information on how to dispute bad information is included in the written credit report you will receive from the bureau.
The credit bureau is obligated to review your complaints, however you must supply all the material they ask for on their forms. The forms, which accompany your personal credit report, explain how to file disputes and get corrections made. It can be a drawn out process, but be persistent.
If the credit bureau won’t correct your file, ask them to mark the file “in dispute.” You may also exercise your right to have a statement (100 words or less) inserted into your credit report to explain your side of the story to potential creditors.
A final note: if you cannot get the agency to make changes, you may want to contact your provincial consumer department. In Alberta, try contacting Alberta Government Services.
Consumer Relations Department
Box 190 Jean Talon Station
Tel: ( 514 ) 493-2314
1 800 465-7166
Fax: ( 514 ) 355-8502
|Purchase your credit report online from Equifax for $14.50 OR download and send them Request Form. Equifax Credit Rating
Request Form (PDF)To request a copy of your credit rating, download and print the above form.Fill out the form, then mail or fax the form along with copies of two pieces of identification. In a couple of weeks, they will mail your report to you.
Trans Union (Ontario)
709 Main Street W Suite 3201
Hamilton, On L8S 1A2
Tel: 1 800 663 9980
Fax: ( 905 ) 527-0401
Trans Union (Alberta)
#202, 1409 Edmonton Trail NE
Calgary, Alberta T2E 3K8
Phone: (403) 276-7808
Fax: (403) 230-3835 Cost: $15.00
Northern Credit Bureaus
336 Rideau Boulevard
Rouyn – Noranda, QC J9X 1P2
Fax: 1 (800) 646-5876