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Can Someone Run a Credit Check Without My Permission in Canada?

Jessica Martel

Dec 08, 2022 5 min read

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Can someone check your credit without permission Canada

Your credit report is an important document. It contains a significant amount of personal and financial information that lenders or potential employers can use to make decisions that impact your day-to-day life. To protect this information, there are laws and rules around who can access your credit report. In most cases, you must provide consent before someone can run a credit check. However, there are some exceptions.

Can Other People Check My Credit Score?

There are many scenarios where someone might want to look at your credit score, including if you’re applying for a personal loan, a new credit card, or even an apartment rental. Lenders want to see your credit score and review your credit report to understand how you manage credit. This can help them decide if they want to lend you money, extend you credit, or rent you an apartment. 

However, just because a lender wants to check your credit doesn’t mean they can. If a potential lender wants to perform a hard inquiry to review the details of your credit report, they typically need your consent to do so. In many cases, you need to provide written consent. When you sign an application for credit, this is considered written consent and gives the lender permission to access your credit report. 

There are exceptions in certain provinces. In Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Saskatchewan, your explicit written consent is not required for a lender to check your credit report. Instead, the business only needs to inform you that they are checking your credit report. 

In some provinces, the government or the police can also access your credit report without your consent. For instance, in British Columbia, your credit report may be released to the police or the courts by court order. 

Additionally, if a company only wants to run a soft inquiry to see if you are eligible for a pre-approval offer or a promotional deal, they don’t need to ask for your permission. 

Credit reporting agencies

How Do I Stop Someone From Checking My Credit?

Unless someone has your permission or they fall into one of the exceptions (e.g. there is a court order to review your credit report), no one should check your credit report. So, if you want to stop someone from checking your credit, don’t grant them permission. 

If you’re concerned that someone is checking your credit without your consent, make sure you are reviewing your credit report regularly. This will help you to identify if there are any inquiries listed on your report that you didn’t agree to. 

To help you keep track of your credit report, you can consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. Credit monitoring provides you with frequent access to your credit history as well as account updates. For instance, you will receive a notification if your credit score goes up or down or if a new account is opened in your name. With Borrowell, you can sign up to monitor your Equifax credit report for free to avoid fraud and errors. 

How Do You Know if Someone Has Done a Credit Check on You?

If you are wondering if a company has performed a credit check on you, you can simply review the “inquiries” section of your credit report. Here you will see a list of all the hard inquiries and soft inquiries that have been done. When you’re looking through the inquiries, keep in mind that a company that performed an inquiry may use a name you don’t recognize. If you’re confused by an inquiry, you can always call the lender to see if they used a third party to access your credit report.  

To access a free copy of your credit report, you can contact either of the main credit bureaus in Canada – Equifax or TransUnion. You can also access a free copy of your credit report through Borrowell. 

Own credit report

Is it Illegal to Check Someone Else’s Credit Report?

Yes, in most cases it is illegal to check someone else’s credit report without the proper consent and permissible purpose.

Permissible purpose is required by the credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion) before someone can access your credit report. Permissible purpose outlines when it is permissible for a company to request information from a credit reporting agency. What is considered permissible can vary from province to province and is typically defined in the provincial Consumer Reporting Act. 

Who is Legally Allowed to Check a Person’s Credit Report?

Canadian credit bureaus follow rules that define who can access your credit report and how your credit report can be used.

Those allowed to see your credit report include: 

  • Credit card company 

  • Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions

  • Utility providers (e.g. phone company)

  • Landlord

  • Employer

  • Insurance company

  • Government

  • Retailers

  • Car leasing company 

Your credit report can be used to: 

  • Lend you money

  • Increase your credit limit

  • Collect debt 

  • Make employment decisions

  • Make rental decisions 

  • Provide insurance

Credit inquiry

Can Someone Steal Your Identity With Your Credit Report?

Yes, a thief can use the information included in your credit report to steal your identity. Your credit report contains a significant amount of personal, financial, and credit history information. 

You can also use your credit report as a way to prevent identity theft. It’s recommended that you check your credit reports from both of the main credit bureaus at least several times per year to look for fraudulent activity. 

The Bottom Line

Before a financial institution runs a credit check, they need to get your consent and have a permissible purpose. How your consent is obtained can vary between provinces. There are also some exceptional situations that permit a credit check without your consent. The best way to keep tabs on who has run a credit check on you is to monitor your credit report regularly. Signing up for a credit monitoring service is a convenient way to track your credit report and protect yourself against identity theft or fraud.

Jessica Martel
Jessica Martel

Jessica Martel is a freelance writer and professional researcher. She specializes in personal finance and financial literacy. Her work has appeared on websites such as Investopedia, The Balance, Money Under 30, Scotiabank, Seeking Alpha, and more. Jessica has a Master of Science degree in Cognitive Research Psychology.

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