The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that credit-reporting agency Trans Union can't keep consumer credit transgressions, such as late payments, on its records for more than six years.
Manjit Bains, vice-president of corporate relations for Consumer Protection B.C., said the policy of one of the two key credit agencies operating in B.C. was a violation of provincial law and detrimental to consumers.
"They were including information on consumers' credit reports that should not have been there after six years," Ms. Bains said Monday in an interview.
"Therefore consumers were being impacted negatively in trying to obtain further credit."
She said the court ruling affirms the interpretation of the law advanced by her non-profit regulatory organization.
"The court decision clarifies our interpretation of the law," she said. "This is a very important issue for consumers. We are very pleased with the outcome of the decision the court has made."
Clifton O'Neal, a spokesperson for Trans Union, declined comment on the court ruling.
Based on complaints from consumers, Consumer Protection, an entity that enforces consumer-protection laws in B.C., asked Trans Union to stop the practice.
However, according to the court ruling, Trans Union refused to comply, suggesting inquiries over issues older than six years were "substantiated facts it felt obliged to report."
When Consumer Protection responded with a compliance notice, Trans Union sought a review of the compliance order, leading to the court action.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled against Trans Union on Jan. 17 and released the decision on Monday.
Justice Keith Bracken ruled that the order against Trans Union was reasonable. "Trans Union was not subjected to any procedural unfairness," he wrote in his ruling.
Ms. Bains said her organization had no plans to look at Equifax, the other major credit agency operating in B.C.
"No. This was a complaint-based file we opened. Our investigation only included Trans Union."
Still, she said Consumer Protection will be monitoring the situation, with particular attention to any complaints from consumers.
She said every year, Consumer Protection gets about 600 calls a year – 2 per cent of the total – about credit-reporting issues.