The Credit Assessment Agents Act (“CAA”), previously known as Bill 53, came into force, for the most part, on October 28th, 2020 within the province of Quebec. This law gives consumers more control over access to their credit data. While the CAA itself is already in force and passed into law, the credit lock aspect will not be in force until February 1, 2023. A consumer credit lock has the same function as a consumer credit freeze. As of that date, Equifax will extend the credit lock capability to all Quebec residents in accordance with the CAA. But what does this mean?
In the simplest terms, this means that consumers living in Quebec will be able to limit access to their credit information. If a lender requests a credit file and the consumer has placed a lock on their file, the lender will receive a new hit code (“7”) indicating the file has been locked. No credit information or related products will be returned to the lender. To learn more about what the CAA means for your business, watch our recent Equifax webinar.
There are two central intentions of the CAA. The first provides consumers with formalized rights regarding access to their personal information for the purpose of credit adjudication. The second oversees the supervision and regulation of credit agencies, our commercial practices, and our management practices for the data we maintain.
When a credit lock is placed on a consumer’s credit file, Equifax cannot deliver the credit file or other products that include personal information and are derived from the credit file (e.g. scores) to any requester who plans to use the credit file (or other product) for the following purposes:
Entering into a credit contract
Entering into a long-term contract for a lease of goods (e.g. rental inquiries)
Entering into a contract involving sequential performance for a service provided at a distance (e.g. a payment plan for a cell phone or a product whereby a service is provided upfront and the payment is made at a later date)
The consumer credit lock differs from existing fraud alert or ID alert as it places requirements on credit agencies with respect to when we can and cannot deliver credit file information based on whether a consumer has placed a lock on their file.
Consumers are the key stakeholders. The regulation creates the ability for a consumer to apply a lock to their file, to suspend it for a period of time, or to remove it if they feel that it’s no longer needed. These tools allow consumers to have increased control over their personal information and identity.
Next are credit agencies or credit reporting agencies, which are mandated to promptly deliver consumer lock requests, and to inform parties seeking credit information for non-exempt purposes that a lock has been placed on the file by the consumer, preventing the information from being delivered.
Lastly, lenders have the obligation to share with the credit agencies what they’ll be using the credit files for (i.e., exempt or non-exempt purposes), and to adapt their processes and platforms to accommodate the credit lock.
The essential points to be aware of are that the credit lock capability comes into effect for Quebec consumers February 1, 2023. At that time Equifax will extend the ability for these consumers to lock, or suspend/revoke a lock on their credit file under the terms of the CAA. If a lock is placed on the file, Equifax will return a new hit code "7" and no credit file information will be provided to the requester. Lenders and other requesters will need to adapt their processes to accommodate the new requirement before it comes into effect. Additional requirements exist in Quebec's existing and constantly evolving privacy framework, including the Act Representing the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector . We're here to help! More information can be found in our webinar and on our website.
We want to help Canadians live their financial best. To learn more about the Quebec Credit Assessment Agents Act, previously known as Bill 53, and the Consumer Credit lock watch the recent webinar or follow updates here. You can also reach us directly at 1-855-233-9226 and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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