Financial institutions, other lenders, and companies with what's called "permissible purpose" can access a copy of your credit report in order to make certain types of decisions about you.
For example, when you apply for a new loan or credit card, a lender usually will use the information in your credit report to determine whether to lend you money and at what rate, based on the risk they think they’re taking.
Your neighbours, friends, co-workers or family members cannot access your Equifax credit report unless you authorize it and they have a permissible purpose.
Some examples of those who can access your credit report are:
- Credit grantors, when you apply for credit
- Collection agencies, when they need it to collect a debt
- Insurance companies, to underwrite certain insurance products
- Employers, but only with your permission
- Rental companies, phone and utility companies, but only with your permission
Some examples of permissible purpose include:
- In accordance with written instructions from a consumer to whom the file relates
- In connection with a payment that has gone to a collections agency
- For employment purposes with the consumer's written consent
- To underwrite of insurance for personal, family or household purposes
- To determine a consumer's eligibility for certain governmental benefits
- When requested by a court order or any Canadian law enforcement agency for an investigation or prosecution
- In connection with a legitimate business need relating to a transaction initiated by the consumer
- To review an account to determine whether the consumer continues to meet the terms of the account
Any business or person who receives a copy of your Equifax credit report will be listed under the "Inquiries" section of your Equifax credit report. If you learn that your Equifax credit report has been obtained outside of the reasons outlined by provincial and federal laws, please contact the company that made the inquiry to investigate.
That company can request that the inquiry be removed (if associated with fraud/ Identity theft) or changed to a "soft" inquiry that will not impact any credit scores, and will only be viewable by you.