Goldhawk Fights Back: Knowing the Score When It Comes to Credit

This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at

Here’s how the numbers break down: If you have a credit score of 800 or more, you are a blue-ribbon borrower and anybody will lean you money at the best rates. If your score is 700 or 750, you are still a good risk but maybe not at the very best rate. If you are below 700, you still might be able to borrow money — maybe not as much as you want and likely not at the interest rate you would prefer.

Here are a few of the factors that will determine your credit score:

How are you paying your accounts?

How much money you currently owe?

How long your accounts have been open?

What different types of credit you use?

How much credit you use compared to the amount of credit you have available?

How often and how recently you have applied for credit?

The first thing you need to know, says Tom Reid, the Director of Consumer Solutions at TransUnion Canada, is your credit score. You can get it online or in person or by mail from TransUnion or Equifax, the other Credit Bureau in Canada. It will cost you a few bucks to get the actual score. But you can get your full credit report for free. It’s the law.

At TransUnion, it’s called a consumer disclosure — a complete account of all the information on your credit report. Unlike the version supplied to a business that buys TransUnion services, a Consumer Disclosure lists all inquiries made to your credit information, including account management inquiries, non-credit-related inquiries and your own inquiries.

The Business Version is a shorter edition of the Consumer Disclosure. And you can get your consumer disclosure by mail or in person.

Here are a few additional pointers that I got from Tom Reid during a recent conversation:

1. Remember that bill collectors will start hounding you if you fall 90 days behind in your credit payments.

2. Credit grantors report on your payments or your lack of payments, to the credit bureaus, every month.


3. The number of credit cards you have is important. Keep them to a minimum. Your total credit limit on all cards can be used against you.

4. Bankruptcies were up 25 per cent from 2009 to 2010.

5. Negative credit information stays on your record for seven years. After that, the credit bureaus figure you have been rehabilitated and the negative stuff disappears.

6. If you got through a second bankruptcy, that one stays on your record for 15 years.

7. All the positive credit information stays on your record forever. So an older borrower has a better chance of impressing a credit grantor with her record.

Goldhawk Fights Back: Worrisome household debt carried by Canadians
Goldhawk Fights Back: Using Numbers to Prop Up a Weak Argument
Goldhawk Fights Back: Keeping bankers at bay

Dale GoldhawkGemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).

Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.