Tips on Credit Repairers

August 21, 2012

Source: Ministry of Consumer Services

Be wary of advertisements promising to "fix" bad credit. Credit repair companies may claim to improve consumers' poor credit ratings, but, in reality, no credit repairer has the power to change or erase accurate information in a consumer's file.

The Consumer Reporting Act provides rules regarding how long this information may appear in a consumer report. No credit repair clinic has the authority to have negative information removed from a consumer report unless it is inaccurate.

Watch out for companies that say they'll "fix" bad credit for a fee -- often substantial, usually payable in advance. So-called credit repair clinics say they will arrange to have negative credit information removed from your record -- including information about bankruptcies and default judgments.

Quick Tips on Managing Credit

  • Check your credit files every few years to ensure the information is correct. Send a written request to the two major credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax Canada Inc. or TransUnion Canada Inc.
  • If you question an item on the file, the credit bureau will investigate on your behalf.
  • If an error is found, the credit bureau must correct it. The consumer should present official receipts to the bureau in order for them to correct errors.
  • The credit bureau will send copies of the updated file to credit grantors upon request.
  • The credit bureau does not refuse loan applications. Financial institutions (banks and other credit grantors) follow their own systems for deciding whether or not to grant credit.
  • If credit is refused, the consumer is directed to a credit bureau to review the information that contributed to the decision.

How to improve your credit

If you need to improve your credit profile, start by asking the credit reporting agency that holds your file to show you what is in it. This is something they are required to do under the Consumer Reporting Act. If you find anything that is wrong or incomplete – and can prove it – the agency has to correct it, make the information complete or delete it. If your file is corrected, the agency has to inform anyone you identify who has been given the old information in the past six months to a year.

The only sure way to improve a poor credit rating is to work with creditors and allow time to pass to show that your payment habits have improved. Consumer reports should not contain a bankruptcy discharged more than seven years ago unless you have declared bankruptcy more than once.

If you're in serious debt, contact a credit counsellor. Non-profit credit counselling services are available through the member agencies of the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services to help people control their debts and solve financial problems permanently.

For more on the Ministry of Consumer Services, click here.