This guide covers the three main credit bureaus in Canada, how they work, and how you can access your free credit report and credit score.
Credit bureaus are companies that collect your credit information from various financial institutions and then convert them into a report and score that measures your creditworthiness.
These companies are important as they play a role in whether you can access credit or get loans at reasonable rates.
The two major credit bureaus in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion. For business credit reporting, there is also a third one, Dun & Bradstreet.
What is a Credit Bureau?
Credit bureaus are also referred to as “credit reporting agencies.”
These companies collect information relating to your use of credit from lenders, such as your bank, credit card company, collection agencies, cell phone provider, etc.
They also have access to public records, such as bankruptcy filings, court judgments, and liens.
Canadian credit bureaus compile this information in your credit report, which they then sell to lenders looking to assess your creditworthiness.
For example, if you are applying for a personal loan and the lender asks your permission to “pull your report” or “check your credit,” they are getting this information from a credit bureau.
The information on your credit report is also used to calculate your credit score, a 3-digit number that ranges between 300 and 900.
A good credit score (600+) signifies that you generally pay your bills on time, while a bad credit score means there is a significant risk you could default on your debt obligations.
Because credit reporting bureaus have their independent process, you may find that your credit score differs between credit reporting agencies.
The main credit bureaus in Canada:
- Equifax Canada
- TransUnion Canada
- Dun & Bradstreet
1. Equifax Canada
Equifax is a global analytics and data company with operations in 25 countries.
It offers credit reporting services in Canada and the United States with two main personal consumer products: Equifax Complete Premier and Equifax Complete Family.
These subscription services include identity theft assistance, credit score and report monitoring, and more.
For business clients, it offers more than 70 different products.
The contact number for Equifax Canada (general inquiries) is 1-800-871-3250.
2. TransUnion Canada
TransUnion was founded in 1968 in the United States and is one of the three main credit bureaus in that country, alongside Equifax and Experian.
TransUnion Canada was established in 1989 and has its headquarters in Toronto.
The company’s products include a Consumer Disclosure (i.e. credit reports) and credit monitoring services.
It also has several products for business entities. The phone number for TransUnion is 1-800-663-9980.
3. Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet provides analytics and credit reporting data for businesses.
This American company was founded in 1841 and operates in multiple countries worldwide.
The contact number for its corporate headquarters is 904-648-6350.
How To Get Your Free Credit Report in Canada
Credit bureaus in Canada are obligated to provide a free copy of your credit report once a year, upon request.
Here’s how to request it:
Equifax Canada Free Credit Report
Phone: Call 1-800-465-7166 to use Equifax’s Interactive Voice Response system.
You will need to confirm your identity (social insurance number), and your credit report will be mailed to your address.
By mail: Download and complete the Credit Report Request Form and mail it alongside copies of two valid government-issued IDs to:
Equifax Canada Co., National Consumer Relations, Box 190, Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2.
In-person: Equifax has offices in Toronto, Halifax, and Charlottetown. You can go to any of these offices in person to request a copy of your credit report.
TransUnion Canada Free Credit Report
You can request a copy of your Consumer Disclosure from TransUnion:
Online: Sign up on their website to view your report.
Mail: Complete the Consumer Request form and mail it alongside copies of two valid IDs (one must be government-issued) that show your name, address, date of birth, and signature.
In-person: TransUnion has offices in Halifax and Burlington. You can visit these locations to request a copy of your consumer disclosure.
How To Get Your Free Credit Score in Canada
You can get your credit score directly from the two major credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion.
Generally, this service is provided alongside their paid credit monitoring services, but you may also be able to get it for free (e.g. Equifax).
Other companies that give you access to free credit score updates are:
Borrowell: Get free weekly updates of your Equifax credit score and credit report. Visit Borrowell.
Credit Karma: Provides monthly updates of your TransUnion credit score. Learn more in this review.
Why are Credit Bureau Credit Scores Different?
When you check your credit score on TransUnion and Equifax, you may be surprised to see that the scores are different.
This discrepancy is due to many factors:
- Credit bureaus use different scoring models to complete your credit score
- Some lenders report to one credit bureau, while others report to both. This means a credit bureau may not have all your credit history, resulting in a different score.
What If There is an Error on Your Credit Report?
If you find an error on your credit report, you can dispute the inaccurate information by contacting the credit bureau:
TransUnion: Call 1-800-663-9980 to report an inaccuracy.
Equifax: You can submit your online application or complete a form and send it by mail.
Credit Bureaus in Canada FAQs
The two most important credit bureaus in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion.
There is no credit bureau that goes by the name “Credit Bureau of Canada.” To contact Equifax or TransUnion, check the phone numbers above.
Things like missed payments, high credit balances, judgments, liens, bankruptcies, collections, too many credit applications within a short timeframe, etc., can lower your credit score.
Credit bureaus look at your payment history, credit utilization, type of credit, new credit inquiries, and the length of your credit history when they calculate your score.
TD Bank uses Equifax Canada when they pull your credit.
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) uses TransUnion Canada for credit checks.
The Bank of Montreal (BMO) uses TransUnion and/or Equifax.
Like BMO, Scotiabank may pull your credit information from both Equifax and TransUnion.
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) uses Equifax Canada.