Who can see and use your credit report?
Credit bureaus follow rules that define who can see your credit report and how they can use it.
Those allowed to see your credit report include:
- banks, credit unions and other financial institutions
- credit card companies
- car leasing companies
- mobile phone companies
- insurance companies
These businesses or individuals use your credit report to help them make decisions about you.
These decisions could be to:
- lend you money
- collect a debt
- consider you for rental housing
- consider you for a job
- provide you with insurance
- offer you a promotion
- offer you a credit increase
A lender or other organization may ask to “check your credit” or “pull your report”. When they do so, they are asking to access your credit report at the credit bureau. This results in an inquiry in your credit report.
Lenders may be concerned if there are too many credit checks, or inquiries in your credit report.
It can seem like you’re:
- urgently seeking credit
- trying to live beyond your means
Consent and credit checks
In general, you need to give permission, or your consent, for a business or individual to use your credit report.
In the following provinces a business or individual only needs to tell you that they are checking your credit report:
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Other provinces require written consent to check your credit report. When you sign an application for credit, you allow the lender to access your credit report. Your consent generally lets the lender use your credit report when you first apply for credit. They can also access your credit at any time afterward while your account is open.
In many cases, your consent also lets the lender share information about you with the credit bureaus. This is only the case if the lender approves your application.
Some provincial laws allow government representatives to see parts of your credit report without your consent. This includes judges and police.
Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office for information on laws related to credit reporting.