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How Credit Effects Your Canadian Mortgage

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The following information is found on the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) website:

Credit report, credit score and credit rating

Take charge of your debts banner Take charge of your debts banner Credit and Credit Repair

Credit report, credit score and credit rating

Credit Report / Credit File | Credit Score | Credit Rating

Credit Report / Credit File

Along with the credit histories of millions of other people, your credit history is recorded in files maintained by at least one of Canada's major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. It is possible to obtain your credit file for free. Please consult the agencies' websites in order to obtain more information. These files are called credit reports. A credit report is a "snapshot" of your credit history. It is one of the main tools lenders use to decide whether or not to give you credit .1

Your credit file is created when you first borrow money or apply for credit. On a regular basis, companies that lend money or issue credit cards to you, including banks, finance companies, credit unions, retailers, send specific factual information related to the financial transactions they have with you to credit reporting agencies.2

Summary of methods to request your credit report and their respective characteristics

Methods Advantages Disadvantages
  • Free of charge
  • Credit score is not provided
  • Can take some time to receive
  • Almost instant report
  • Option to get credit score
  • Fee charged

Credit Score1

Your credit score is a judgment about your financial health, at a specific point in time. It indicates the risk you represent for lenders, compared with other consumers.

There are many different ways to work out credit scores. The credit-reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion use a scale from 300 to 900. High scores on this scale are good. The higher your score, the lower the risk for the lender. Lenders may also have their own ways of arriving at credit scores. In addition, lenders must decide on the lowest score you can have and still borrow money from them. They can also use your score to set the interest rate you will pay.

Credit Rating1

Some credit-reporting agencies report the lenders' rating of each of your credit history items on a scale of 1 to 9. A rating of "1" means you pay your bills within 30 days of the due date. A rating of "9" means that you never pay your bills at all or that you have made a consumer debt repayment proposal to the lender. A letter will also appear in front of the number: for example, I2, O2, R2. The letter stands for the type of the credit you are using.

  • "I" means you were given credit on an installment basis, such as for a car loan, where you borrow money once and repay it in fixed amounts, on a regular basis, for a specific period of time until the loan is paid off.
  • "O" means you have open credit such as a line of credit, where you borrow money, as needed, up to a certain limit and the total balance is due at the end of each period. This category may also include student loans, for which the money may not be owing until you are out of school.
  • "R" means you have "revolving" credit, where you make regular payments in varying amounts depending on the balance of your account, and can then borrow more money up to your credit limit. Credit cards are a good example of "revolving" credit.1

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.3

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 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."
R6 This rating does not exist.
R7 Making regular payments through a special arrangement to settle your debts.
R8 Repossession (voluntary or involuntary return of merchandise).
R9 Bad debt; placed for collection; moved without giving a new address or bankruptcy.
Other rating indicators that might be found on a report are "I" for installment credit or "O" for open credit line.

Source: Equifax Canada

To see examples of what credit reports look like and to get more information on credit scores, visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's publication entitled Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score.

Here are Canada's major credit-reporting agencies:

Equifax Canada
Tel: 1-800-465-7166
Fax: 514-355-8502

TransUnion Canada
Tel: 1-866-525-0262 (except in Quebec)
Tel: 1-877-713-3393 (Quebec residents)

Next Page — How to request a copy of your credit report / file?
Back — "Credit and Credit Repair"

Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)

Credit Reports, Credit Scores and Credit Repair

Credit report, credit score and credit rating

Credit Report: A credit report is a detailed report of your credit history and is kept by at least one of Canada's credit-reporting agencies.

Credit Score: Your credit score is an up-to-date rating of your financial health. It shows lenders the level of risk if they lend you money.

Credit Rating: A credit rating is a rating of each of each of your credit history items on a scale of 1 to 9. These ratings are made by credit-reporting agencies.

Request your credit report

You can get your credit report for free. This allows you to see your credit rating and gives you a chance to correct any mistakes on the report.

Correct a mistake on a credit report

Your credit information can be kept by more than one credit reporting agency. Since these agencies do not always share information, it's important for you to check all of your credit reports carefully. If you find an error in your credit report, you can take steps to have the error corrected.

Improve your credit score

If your credit score is not as high as you think it should be, check the information in your credit report. If the report is correct, read it carefully to find out what might be bringing down your score. You can then work to improve your credit score.

Hire a company to change your credit rating?

There is no reason for you to pay a company to rebuild your credit rating. There is nothing they can do to change your credit rating that you cannot do yourself.

Warning Signs of Debt | Ways to Reduce Your Debt | "Last Resort" Options | Collection Agencies | Credit Reports, Credit Scores and Credit Repair | Resources on Personal Finances and Debt | Glossary of Terms

Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)

Ways to Reduce your Debt

Make a budget and get budget counselling

A basic first step for debt reduction is to prepare a budget and plan your spending. Once you have a budget, you must stick to it. When you follow a budget, you can take any extra money you have each month and put it toward your debts. This will lower your total debt and save you money on interest fees.

Don’t spend money on items that are not in your budget. Eventually, if nothing else changes, you will be able to pay off your debts. If you find this hard to do, see a professional budget counsellor for advice on planning a budget.

Combine your debts

A debt consolidation loan is a loan (usually from a bank) that lets you repay your debts to all your creditors at once. This means that you only have one monthly payment, often at a lower interest rate than you are paying now. This saves you money on interest fees and lets you pay off your loan faster.

Contact your creditors

One way to lower your debt is make new arrangements with your creditors. Make a list of your creditors and contact each one with a proposal for one or more of the following:

  • Lower monthly payments
  • Longer time period to make your payments
  • Lower rate of interest

You can also ask a debt management advisor, such as a credit counsellor, to do this for you.

Work with your mortgage lender

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) suggests contact your mortgage lender right away when you run into mortgage problems. You can then work with your lender to find a solution.

Sell a possession

A personal possession is something that you own and do not owe money on. Selling a personal possession can get rid of some of your debt. If you cannot earn more money or cut down your expenses, selling a personal possession can be a good idea.

Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)

Collection Agencies

Information on collection agencies

A collection agency is a company that intervenes to recover money owed by people in debt. Your creditors — the people to whom you owe money — pay these agencies to recover the amounts you owe them. If you owe money to a company or a supplier and have not recently sent in your payment, that company or supplier can turn your file over to a collection agency. Here are some useful tips:

  • You must be notified in writing that your file has been given to a collection agency. Don't panic. The agency is trying to recover the money you owe its client.
  • If possible, pay the amount you owe.
  • If you are unable to pay it all at once, contact the agency and explain.
  • If you reach an agreement with the agency, get it in writing.
  • Never send cash. Make sure that you obtain a receipt for your payment from the agency.

Do you feel you have been treated unfairly by a collection agency? Although the regulations differ slightly across Canada, a collection agency is usually only allowed to do certain things. Find out more so that you will be able to protect yourself from aggressive debt collectors The complete list of what debt collectors can and cannot do, as well as contact information, are available in the Canadian Consumer Handbook.

For example, a representative of a collection agency must not make telephone calls of such a nature or frequency as to constitute harassment of you or your family. There are certain times when a representative must not call you at all (which vary from one province or territory to another).

Specific rules by province / territory

You can view the specific rules that apply to collection agencies where you live. Click on your province or territory to access the information from the appropriate government agency regarding collection agencies' practices:

If the following document is not accessible to you, please contact us to obtain other appropriate formats.


British Columbia


New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia



Prince Edward Island




Information on Downloading a PDF Reader
To access the Portable Document Format (PDF) version you must have a PDF reader installed. If you do not already have such a reader, there are numerous PDF readers available for free download or for purchase on the Internet:

Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)

Resources for educators

Hand Holding a Credit Card Take charge of your debts banner Resources for educators

Resources on personal finances and debt

Consumer Measures Committee / Office of Consumer Affairs

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, Industry Canada

Canadian Bankers Association in partnership with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)

Protect Your Privacy

Identity Theft
A link to the Consumer Measures Committee web page on identity theft. Includes the Consumer Identity Theft Checklist, the Consumer Identity Theft Kit, the Business Identity Theft Tool Kit and the latest news releases on identity theft.

Consumer Identity Theft Checklist
a short, yet in-depth list of how to guard yourself from identity theft and what to do if you become a victim

Spam IQ Test
A test that challenges your knowledge about spam and computer scams.

Privacy Commissioner of Canada
The independent Officer of Parliament charged with enforcing the federal Privacy Act and PIPEDA. This individual investigates complaints, issues, findings, and may take cases to the Federal Court.

Electronic Commerce

Consumer Protection in E-Commerce
presents the E-Commerce working group as well as information for consumers and partners

Online Shopping
learn more about what you should know and what to look out for, before proceeding with an online transaction

Money, Credit & Debt

Take Charge of Your Debts

Provides information, solutions and tools to assist you with managing your debt

If the following document is not accessible to you, please contact us to obtain other appropriate formats.

Be Informed About…Debt
offers basic information on how to recognize the warning signs of problem debt and how to take control

Information on Downloading a PDF Reader
To access the Portable Document Format (PDF) version you must have a PDF reader installed. If you do not already have such a reader, there are numerous PDF readers available for free download or for purchase on the Internet:

Spending Smarter
provides information on how to avoid common spending pitfalls and maximize the amount of money you have at your disposal

For more information on money, credit & debt please visit:

Consumer Groups


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