Information around credit checks and credit scores can be a little overwhelming. Especially when you’re worried about a credit check negatively affecting your credit score. We’re going to tell you what impact (if any) certain types of credit checks have on your credit score.

Consumer Protection BC oversees specific aspects of credit reporting – mostly what can be included in a credit report and who can see it.

What’s in my credit report?

Your credit report is a summary of your credit history. It includes information about you, your financial obligations to creditors, payment history, debts sent to collections, and requests for info from creditors, businesses, or individuals.

Read our blog post to learn how to request a free copy of your credit report.

Information from your credit report is used to determine your credit score. Your credit score, along with the other information in your credit report, informs lenders how likely you are to be a credit risk. Your credit score is usually a three-digit number – the higher the number, the better the score.

Who can see it?

Nobody can access your credit report without your consent. However, with your permission, businesses, organizations and individuals can use your credit report to help make decisions about you. For example, it may help them decide whether to lend you money, rent you a property, or offer you a job.

Is my credit score affected by a credit check?

According to BC’s two credit agencies, Equifax Canada and TransUnion, it depends on what kind of credit check (or inquiry) is taking place.

  • Soft inquiries. Soft inquiries do not affect credit scores and are not visible to potential lenders that may review your credit reports. They are visible to you and will stay on your credit reports for 12 to 24 months, depending on the type of inquiry. Here are some examples:
    • You requested a copy of your own credit report or checked your credit score
    • A company reviewed your credit and sent you a promotional credit card offer for an account you already have
    • With your approval, your future landlord checked your credit score (this is most likely a soft inquiry, but it would be good to double check with your landlord before giving permission)
  • Hard inquiries. Hard inquiries do impact your credit score and they may stay on your credit report for up to 36 months. Recent hard inquiries on your credit report tell a lender that you’re currently shopping for new credit. Here are some examples:
    • You applied for a loan (mortgage, line of credit, car loan etc.)
    • You applied for a new credit card

My credit needs to be checked multiple times while I shop for a competitive interest rate. Should I be worried?

If you’re making a large purchase, such as buying a house or securing a mortgage, there’s a chance you’re shopping around for a competitive rate. During your search, lenders will likely request to check your credit.

Savvy tip: Multiple hard inquiries are generally treated as one hard inquiry for a given period (typically 14 to 45 days). This allows you ample time to check different lenders and find the best loan terms without having a major affect on your credit.

Please note that this multiple-hard inquiry exception generally does not apply to credit cards.

Questions?

If you are ever unsure if a credit check will affect your credit score, don’t be afraid to ask the question. Depending on the situation, you may want to consider asking the lender running the check, your bank, or consider reaching out to Equifax Canada or TransUnion.

Did you like this? You might like these posts too!

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About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.