Quebec considers making credit reports free

Click to play video: 'Bill 53 to give Quebecers more control over credit'
Bill 53 to give Quebecers more control over credit
WATCH: A new government bill aims to give Quebecers more control and protection when it comes to their credit. As Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports, Bill 53 is in response to the Desjardins data breaches – Aug 26, 2020

A government bill being studied this week at the national assembly aims to give Quebecers more control and protection over their credit.

Bill 53 is the Quebec government’s response to data breaches at Desjardins in 2019, which affected more than four million members.

READ MORE: Desjardins now says data breach affected 4.2 million members

The province is now looking at ways to protect people’s financial information.

Credit agencies like TransUnion and Equifax spoke in front of the committee studying Bill 53. These agencies monitor Quebecers’ credit reports and credit scores.

Now, opposition parties say those services should be available for free.

“That data belongs to Quebecers — it’s their credit rating, they should be able to consult it, they should be able to know who has access to it, they should be able to know when it was changed, why it was changed,” said Liberal MNA André Fortin.

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Right now, these services cost hundreds of dollars, Fortin pointed out.

“TransUnion yesterday confirmed that it was $240 per year to get your credit rating from them.”

Desjardins offered its members a five-year subscription to Equifax after the data breaches. It is also calling for these services to be free.

“So it’s accessible to everyone,” said Yvan-Pierre Grimard, a vice-president at Desjardins.

However, cybersecurity expert Steve Waterhouse said the government should also be focusing on public education, so people know how these tools work.

Credit agencies provide monitoring but not protection, he explained, adding that it sometimes can take as long as 30 days for them to notify victims of suspicious activity.

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He said, at the very least, those notifications should come much faster.

“At least 24 or 48 hours — 72 max — to be advised that someone got access to your credit information. And at least you’ll have time to react about it.”

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Bill 53 is just one component of the government’s plan to improve the protection of personal information. The national assembly will study another more detailed bill this fall, which will look at preventing all types of security breaches in public organizations and the private sector.

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