How Canadians Can Manage Credit Through a Financial Hardship

Blog Post03/18/2020
manage credit through hardship

If you are experiencing financial difficulty, you’re not alone. You can protect your credit by taking action; even if you have been hit by unexpected events like losing a job or a natural disaster that make paying your bills tough. TransUnion is here to help you understand what you can do to help manage your credit information through this stressful time.

1. What should I do if I’m having a hard time making payments on my bills or loans due to a financial hardship?

The first thing you should do is contact your lenders to explain your situation. You can find contact information for your lenders on your most recent bill.

2. How does TransUnion help people affected by a financial hardship?

TransUnion offers quick and easy online access to view and download your free monthly Consumer Disclosure.

3. Why should I check my credit report if I’m going through a financial hardship?

It may be a good idea to check your credit report via Consumer Disclosure to make sure all your accounts are reporting accurately. This way, if you contact your lenders to discuss your financial situation and/or account, they will be able to access accurate data.

4. What should I ask/tell my lenders if I am unable to make a payment?

We know this situation isn’t easy. If you cannot make a payment on time, contact your lender and explain your circumstances. You can ask whether they offer their customers hardship or payment arrangement plans.

These questions might help you in your conversation with your creditors:

  • Does your company offer a payment arrangements or hardship program?
  • What are the criteria to apply for payment arrangements or hardship program?
  • Is there a difference between payment arrangements or hardship program?
  • How long does it take for a payment arrangement or hardship program to take effect?
  • Will fees (i.e. late, overdraft) be assessed while I’m in payment arrangements or hardship program?
  • How is interest being calculated while I’m in payment arrangements or hardship program?


5. What does having an account in payment arrangements/hardship program mean?

Having an account in payment arrangements/hardship program usually means your lender has agreed that you can temporarily stop making payments on that account for a certain amount of time.

6. Do all lenders offer payment arrangements or hardship options?

You will need to contact your specific lenders to find out. You will most likely find their contact information on your latest statement.

7. How are payment arrangement or hardship accounts reported to the credit reporting agencies? How will this show up on my credit report?

It is up to lenders to decide how they’re going to report accounts to credit reporting agencies. You should contact your specific lender for more information.

8. When will a late or missed payment be reported on my credit report?

Late or missed payments may be reported by your lenders to the credit reporting agencies, and the timing of reporting varies by lender. We recommend contacting your lender directly to ask about when late or missed payments are reported to credit reporting agencies.

9. Are there certain accounts I should prioritize paying over others?

As each person has a unique situation, we cannot provide specific recommendations on payment prioritization or how this might affect your credit score. We recommend you contact your lenders to ask whether they might have a payment arrangement or hardship program if you have concerns about being able to pay your bills.

10. Where can I obtain my credit report to see what’s been reported by my lenders?

TransUnion offers quick and easy online access to view and download your free monthly Consumer Disclosure.

11. I signed up for my lender’s deferral program and noticed my TransUnion score has dropped. Why?

To protect consumers deferring payments, we reminded lenders of industry standard reporting guidelines in March. We also conducted an analysis to model the impact of deferrals in a forecasted scenario on TransUnion credit scores. While many factors influence the impact on a single score, the overall impact of a deferral is neutral on consumer credit-worthiness when reported accurately and in accordance with the industry guidelines.

To check if your account has been deferred, please review a copy of your Consumer Disclosure online at ocs.transunion.ca. If the account in question has been deferred, it should have a “D” in the “Terms” field. If an account you deferred does not show as such, please contact your financial institution.

For more frequently asked questions, including score-related questions and answers, please click here.

12. Why did my credit score drop now?

There could be many reasons your credit score dropped. During this difficult time, TransUnion is working diligently with our reporting partners to update credit information to ensure that your credit report is accurate and, when your credit information is accurate, any credit score will reflect your credit activity. It’s important to also note that the service you use to get your score may not update it on a daily basis, so the score you have in mind may take additional time to reflect updated credit information. 

13. Where can I dispute information listed on my credit report? 

As a first step, we recommend contacting your creditors directly to correct any inaccuracies reported on your credit file. If you’re unable to resolve the issue with your creditors, you can also quickly and easily view your credit file and dispute items you believe to be inaccurate through TransUnion’s online portal.