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 effect on your credit.
Please note that this multiple-hard inquiry exception generally does not apply to credit cards.
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.
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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.
18 thoughts on “Credit checks: do they affect my credit score?”
So I have an account with a grandchild.
As they are now an adult I decided To open another account in my name alone.
I have overdraft protection on the old account and I wanted them to transfer it to the new account. They said they had to do a credit check because it had been a few years. OK so they opened the overdraft protection on the new account but did not close off overdraft on the old account.
Now I have overdraft protection on two accounts.
The question is if I close the old overdraft protection on the old account will it adversely affect my credit rating?.
Hi Daphne, thanks for your question. I don’t believe that would affect your credit rating, but I would suggest contacting your bank and asking them directly. Thanks!
BOM did a credit check without my permission and then lowered my credit limit on my credit card. Is that credit check legal.
Hi Shirley, thanks for reaching out to us here. Unless you were seeking credit from BOM (this usually means you are agreeing that they can view your report – it’s usually in the fine print), they are not allowed to access your credit report without your consent. Anyone who wants to view your credit report must be able to prove that you have given them permission.
If you are worried that BOM accessed your credit report without your permission, contact the credit reporting agency and ask them to clarify who has access to your report. If you still have concerns, you can contact us at 1.888.564.9963. Thanks, Shirley.
Except BOM has an existing relationship with the client, and as part of the original signed agreement they can do “maintenance” credit checks (soft checks) at any time. The agreement with BOM will have somewhere stating they can do onging credit checks at any time.
Hi QuietFox, thanks for sharing that information. I hadn’t heard of that before, but I believe if it was in the written agreement initially then it would make sense that they would be able to run soft checks (which don’t negatively impact your score). Shirley, you may be interested in contacting the bank to find out what you agreed to specifically when you signed up for the credit. I hope this helps!
Hello I have applied for a credit card and was turned down and the letter states they didnt do a credit check they just denied me for a credit card even if they would give me a secured credit card and their promotion says you will get the desion in less than 1 minute.
Hi Robert, thanks for reaching out to us here. We have no legal authority when it comes to financial institutions and whether or not they offer credit cards to consumers, however, I’m happy to do my best to point you in the right direction. If you haven’t already, I would suggest contacting the bank and asking for clarification on why you were turned down. You may want to escalate the issue to management if you’re unhappy with the outcome. If that is unsuccessful and you would like to submit a complaint about the bank, you can do a search for your specific bank on this page here to find out who the proper people to speak to are about your issue. While this issue falls outside our authority, I hope the referrals and information I provided are useful to you!
I recently applied for tenancy through a real estate office. When I inquired about the process of vetting, specifically if they did a “hard pull”, I was assured they did not. Later I saw the company they used on my credit report, and proceeded to dispute the inquiry. Since, I’ve been in multiple phone and email conversations about the services they provide, being in contradiction to BC’s Privacy Regulations, and is seen as unnecessary and potentially opening them up to investigation, as they don’t store this information properly. As a result of my request to have the pull removed, I was told my signed consent, along with my personal information was missing, and they conceded to have it removed. As of today, they still have not removed it.
Hi Ember, thanks for reaching out to us here. Are you looking for assistance with something specifically or do you have a question for us around this? If so, I think we might need a bit more information from you in order to point you in the right direction. Can you give our inquiry team a call at 1.888.564.9963? Thanks
I was thinking to buy a car, and the dealership submits several inquiries damaging my credit score. is it possible to revert that situation?
First of all, I just wanted to see what car I could buy, but these dealerships just offer me one option with a credit approved already ( I was expecting to receive several options, choose one of them and then proceed).
In the end, I decided not to proceed with this purchase. is any way to block these card dealers or revert this situation?
Hi Fran, thank you for contacting us here. We only oversee a small portion of credit reporting but it’s our understanding that a hard inquiry would stay on your credit report for up to 36 months. Unfortunately, we do not regulate how companies behave when running credit checks so you may need to contact the dealership directly or contact Equifax or TransUnion. You can request those two credit reporting agencies to add notes on your credit report as well.
I was just wondering if it is legal to do a credit inquiry without permission or consent? My bf and I were looking to buy a truck from an auto dealership, they were supposed to send us couple options, they did but we didnt like any of them. During that time they ask for my driver’s license. I repeated to them not to check my credit until we have agreed on a car and was moving forward with the deal. They agreed… couple weeks later I see a credit inquiry on my credit report without my consent or written permission, or a car so I have no idea for what purpose the inquiry made. My question is are they allow to do this? And what actions can I take?
Hello and thank you for contacting Consumer Protection BC. As the post mentions, we only oversee aspects of credit reporting in BC but it is our understanding that businesses and organizations do need to receive consent before checking an individual’s credit score. You may want to start by asking the dealership about this, then also contact both Equifax and TransUnion to add a note to your credit record necessary. I hope this information is helpful to you!
Hi, I was just at Walmart and was asked if I wanted to sign up for a “points card” I said like the ones they have on save on foods? And she said yeah. She said all I need is your ID to confirm your identity, she took off with my ID and when I notice she was putting my driver’s license, birthday and full name, and address I asked her who have given her permission to do that, that I never gave consent for her to take that information. She then told me it was part of the questions in the application, I went to costumer service to complain and was told they would fallow up, i then checked on line and realized they don’t hAve a points program but a credit card. She was doing a credit check with out my consent, I called the manager and was told he didn’t think she could check my credit report with out a credit card and that she had cancel the transaction. I’m super upset since I’m rebuilding my credit and if the checked it would affect my credit report since it wouldn’t go thru since I’m still rebuilding my credit. Companies shouldn’t be allow to trick people into signing up with out permission and shouldn’t do credit checks for the same reason ! How can I check that they Didn’t do a credit check on me !
Hi Ilse, thank you for contacting us here. You can obtain free copies of credit reports (also called consumer disclosure) from TransUnion and Equifax. Once the reports arrive, you can check to make sure that the credit check wasn’t done. We have more information on this as well as links to TransUnion and Equifax on our blog page here. If you have any further questions, please let us know!
I’ve just checked my credit report and I see multiple inquiries from organizations I do not know or have done any business with. How can I get information about what has been done?
Hi Jack, thanks for reaching out to us. Have you searched those organizations on the internet to see if they jog your memory? Sometimes financing companies have different names from the main business. If you are sure that they are on your report by mistake, you can contact Equifax and TransUnion and add notes to those inquiries. Depending on if they were soft or hard inquiries, they will stay on your report for 12-36 months. More information on this is in the blog post. I hope this is helpful to you!