Concerns about identity theft have resulted in recent
amendments to Ontario's Consumer Reporting Act,
which came into force on January 1, 2008. In certain
situations, credit grantors will be required to take additional
steps prior to completing a transaction with an individual. The
amendments allow for an individual to have a 'fraud
alert' notice put in a credit file that a consumer
reporting agency (CRA) maintains about him or her. If a
business conducts a credit check on that individual and
discovers a fraud alert in his or her file, the business shall
not proceed with the transaction without taking reasonable
steps to verify the identity of the person involved in the
The alert that a consumer may require a CRA to include in
his or her file will warn persons to verify the identity of any
person purporting to be the consumer. The fraud alert in the
CRA's file will include a telephone number or method of
contacting the consumer to verify the identity of a person
purporting to be the consumer. The CRA is required to take
reasonable steps to verify the identity of the person
requesting the alert before placing it in the consumer's
If a business conducts a credit check that reveals a fraud
alert in the consumer's file, the business is not to
proceed with certain prescribed transactions involving someone
purporting to be the consumer without taking steps to verify
the identity of the person. The Act and associated regulations
provide that such steps are required where the transaction with
the consumer involves:
the extension of credit or the loaning of money
(including an increase in an individual's open credit
limit, the issuance of additional credit cards or the lending
of money on the security of a mortgage);
the purchase, assignment or collection of a debt of the
a tenancy agreement involving the person;
an agreement for the purchase, lease or rental of goods
or services involving the person;
an employment arrangement of the person; or
the underwriting of insurance involving the person.
A fraud alert in the CRA file will expire six years after it
is included in a consumer's file or upon the consumer's
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general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
be sought about your specific circumstances.
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