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Revised Statutes of Newfoundland 1990


CHAPTER C-32

AN ACT RESPECTING THE REGISTRATION AND REGULATION OF CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCIES

Analysis

1. Short title

2. Definitions

3. Application of Act

4. Contracting out

5. Registrar and deputy

6. Inquiries by registrar

7. Investigation

8. Advisory committees

9. Expenses and remuneration

10. Time for registration

11. Entitlement to registration

12. Registration

13. Address for service

14. Notification of changes

15. Suspension and cancellation of registration

16. Further information

17. False advertising

18. Annual fee

19. Disclosure of consumer report

20. Contents of consumer report

21. Sale of files

22. Credit report

23. Personal information

24. Disclosure of file to consumer

25. Alteration of consumer information

26. Restraining orders

27. Regulations

28. Offences

29. Limitation period

30. Certificate as evidence

31. Evidence of carrying on business

32. Appeal

33. Hearing of appeal


Short title

1. This Act be cited as the Consumer Reporting Agencies Act.

1977 c18 s1

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Definitions

2. In this Act

(a) "consumer" means a natural person seeking or obtaining credit for personal, family or household purposes;

(b) "consumer information" means credit information or personal information collected and retained by a consumer reporting agency;

(c) "consumer report" means a report of credit information or personal information supplied by a consumer reporting agency;

(d) "consumer reporting agency" means a person who is engaged in providing consumer reports to another person, whether for remuneration or otherwise;

(e) "credit" means the right granted by a creditor to a debtor to defer payment of debt or to incur debt and defer its payment;

(f) "credit information" means information collected or stored for the purpose of assessing the credit rating of consumers;

(g) "credit report" means a report of credit information supplied by a consumer reporting agency;

(h) "minister" means the Minister of Justice.

(i) "personal information" means information collected or stored for the purpose of assessing the character, reputation, mode of living, or health of a consumer; and

(j) "registrar" and "deputy registrar" mean the Registrar and Deputy Registrar of Consumer Protection referred to in the Consumer Protection Act.

1977 c18 s2; 1978 c29 s1; 1981 c4 Sch C;
1984 c41 Sch C; 1989 c19 Sch B

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Application of Act

3. This Act does not apply to a consumer reporting agency, the reports of which deal only with industrial or commercial enterprises and are distributed only to those enterprises.

1977 c18 s3

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Contracting out

4. This Act applies notwithstanding an agreement or waiver to the contrary.

1977 c18 s4

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Registrar and deputy

5. (1) The registrar shall

(a) perform and exercise the powers, functions and duties conferred and imposed upon him or her under this Act;

(b) consult and co-operate with the Government of Canada, with a department, agency or body under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada or of the Legislature of the province or with consumer reporting agencies and other interested persons and organizations, that are necessary or desirable for carrying out the purposes of this Act;

(c) investigate complaints regarding the operation of this Act and consumer reporting agencies;

(d) undertake, promote or recommend measures for the development, control and direction of consumer reporting agencies in the province;

(e) collect, compile, analyze and record statistical and other information relating to consumer reporting agencies;

(f) prepare and publish reports in relation to consumer reporting agencies;

(g) subject to the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, engage solicitors, accountants, actuaries and other professionally or technically qualified persons for the purposes of this Act;

(h) do other things or exercise other powers that are necessary or desirable for carrying out the purposes of this Act; and

(i) exercise and discharge other powers, functions and duties that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may assign to the registrar for the purposes of this Act.

(2) In the absence or incapacity of the registrar, the deputy registrar shall exercise and perform the powers, functions and duties of the registrar.

1977 c18 s5

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Inquiries by registrar

6. For the purpose of carrying out the powers, functions and duties of the registrar under this Act, the registrar has the powers, privileges and immunities that are or may be conferred upon a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act.

1977 c18 s6

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Investigation

7. (1) The registrar, or a person authorized by him or her in writing, referred to in this section as an "investigator", may investigate and inquire into a matter that the registrar considers expedient for the administration of this Act.

(2) An investigator may at reasonable times enter business premises so long as it is reasonably necessary to determine compliance with this Act and may demand the production of and inspect the books, documents, correspondence and records that the investigator believes on reasonable grounds are in respect of the person about whom the investigation is being made, including, a consumer reporting agency or a person that the investigator has reasonable grounds to believe is carrying on a consumer reporting agency business.

(3) Where the registrar believes on reasonable grounds that a person has contravened this Act or the regulations, an investigator may with a warrant issued under subsection (4) at a reasonable time enter upon the business premises and may investigate, inquire into and examine the affairs of the person in respect of whom the investigation is being made and into books, documents, correspondence and records in relation to that person and into property, assets or things owned, acquired or disposed of in whole or in part by that person or by a person acting on behalf of or as agent for that person.

(4) A Provincial Court judge or justice of the peace, who is satisfied by information upon oath or affirmation that there are reasonable grounds for believing that there is on business premises anything that there are reasonable grounds to believe will give evidence with respect to an offence under this Act, may issue a warrant authorizing an investigator named in the warrant to enter and search those premises and to make the inquiries and copies of books, documents, correspondence and records that are considered necessary, subject to the conditions that may be specified in the warrant.

(5) The owner or person in charge of the premises referred to in this section and a person found there shall give an investigator reasonable help to enable the investigator to carry out his or her duties and functions under this section and shall provide the information that the investigator may reasonably require.

(6) When an action or proceeding is taken against an investigator for anything done by him or her under this Act or the regulations and the court before which the action or proceeding is taken is satisfied that there was probable cause for the action of the investigator and that it was not malicious, a verdict or judgment shall not be given against the investigator for more than $0.05 damages or for costs.

(7) Where the registrar receives a complaint in respect of a consumer reporting agency and so requests in writing, indicating in the request the nature of the inquiry involved, the consumer reporting agency shall provide the registrar with the information respecting the matter complained of that the registrar requires.

(8) An investigator may, upon giving a receipt, remove a document or record relating to the subject matter of the investigation, for the purpose of making a copy of the document or record, provided that the copying is carried out with reasonable dispatch and the document or record in question is promptly returned.

(9) A copy made as provided in subsection (8) and purporting to be certified by the person making the investigation is admissible in evidence in an action, proceeding or prosecution as, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof of the original document or record.

1977 c18 s7; 1985 c11 s39

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Advisory committees

8. In order to carry out the purposes of this Act the minister may establish advisory committees and appoint the members.

1977 c18 s8

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Expenses and remuneration

9. (1) The members of an advisory committee are entitled to be paid reasonable travelling and living expenses from and to their ordinary places of residence in the course of their duties.

(2) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may authorize the payment of a daily allowance to some or all of the members of an advisory committee.

1977 c18 s9

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Time for registration

10. (1) A person shall not carry on business as a consumer reporting agency in the province unless that person is registered under this Act.

(2) A person shall not publish a statement or representation of registration under this Act.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to a consumer reporting agency that provides consumer reports to other persons without remuneration.

1977 c18 s10; 1978 c29 s2

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Entitlement to registration

11. (1) An applicant for registration as a consumer reporting agency is entitled to be granted the registration unless in the opinion of the registrar

(a) his or her financial responsibility or record of past conduct is such that it would not be in the public interest for the registration to be granted; or

(b) where the applicant is a corporation, its financial responsibility or the record of past conduct of the corporation or its officers or directors is such that it would not be in the public interest for the registration to be granted.

(2) A registration is subject to the terms, conditions and restrictions that may be consented to by the applicant, imposed by the registrar, or prescribed by the regulations.

(3) The registrar may, by written notice to a registered consumer reporting agency, add to, remove or alter the terms, conditions or restrictions to which the registration is subject.

(4) A registered consumer reporting agency shall comply with the terms, conditions and restrictions to which the consumer reporting agency's registration is subject.

1977 c18 s11

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Registration

12. (1) A consumer reporting agency shall apply for registration upon a form provided by the registrar and shall send with the application the fees prescribed by the regulations.

(2) A registration remains in effect until it is withdrawn by the registered person or is suspended or cancelled under this Act.

(3) The registrar shall not refuse to grant registration to a consumer reporting agency or cancel or suspend the registration of a consumer reporting agency without giving that agency an opportunity to be heard.

1977 c18 s12

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Address for service

13. (1) An applicant for registration shall give in the application an address for service in the province, and a notice or order or other document given or served under this Act shall be considered to be sufficiently given or served if delivered or sent by registered mail to the person at the address for service stated in the application for registration, unless that person has notified the registrar in writing of a change of address for service under section 14, in which case the notice or order or other document is sufficiently served if delivered or sent by registered mail to the person at the latest address for service of which the registrar has been so notified.

(2) Where a notice or order or other document referred to in subsection (1) is sent by registered mail, it is considered to be served on the 3rd day following the day it is deposited in the post office.

1977 c18 s13

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Notification of changes

14. A registered consumer reporting agency shall, within 5 days of a change, notify the registrar in writing of

(a) a change in the agency's address for service;

(b) a change in the officers in the case of a corporation or of the members in the case of a partnership; and

(c) in the case of a corporation, a change in the ownership of its shares.

1977 c18 s14

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Suspension and cancellation of registration

15. (1) The registrar may suspend or cancel the registration of a consumer reporting agency upon a ground on which he or she might have refused to grant registration under section 11 or where he or she is satisfied that the consumer reporting agency

(a) has contravened this Act or the regulations or has failed to comply with the terms, conditions or restrictions to which registration was subject;

(b) has made a material misstatement in the application for registration or in the information or material submitted to the registrar under section 16;

(c) has been guilty of misrepresentation, fraud, deceit or dishonesty;

(d) is not carrying on business in the province;

(e) being a corporation, has been dissolved or has been struck off the register under the Corporations Act;

(f) being a natural person, has died; or

(g) has become bankrupt.

(2) The registrar shall publish notice of the suspension or cancellation in the Gazette.

1977 c18 s15; 1986 c12 Sch; 1987 c38 Sch B

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Further information

16. The registrar may require further information or material to be submitted within a specified time by an applicant for registration or a registered consumer reporting agency and may require verification by affidavit or otherwise of information or material then or previously submitted.

1977 c18 s16

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False advertising

17. Where, in the opinion of the registrar, a consumer reporting agency is making false or deceptive statements in an advertisement, pamphlet or similar material, the registrar may order the immediate cessation of the use of the material.

1977 c18 s17

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Annual fee

18. A consumer reporting agency holding a certificate of registration under this Act shall, in April in each year, pay to the registrar the annual registration fee prescribed by the regulations.

1977 c18 s18

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Disclosure of consumer report

19. (1) A consumer reporting agency shall not provide a consumer report except

(a) in response to an order of a court;

(b) in accordance with the written instructions of the consumer to whom the consumer report relates;

(c) in response to an order or direction made under this Act;

(d) to a person that it has reason to believe

(i) is involved in a business or credit transaction with the consumer, or

(ii) intends to use the consumer report for employment purposes; or

(e) to the government of the province or of Canada, or to a peace officer acting in the course of his or her duties.

(2) A person shall not seek to obtain a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency except for the purposes set out in subsection (1).

1977 c18 s19

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Contents of consumer report

20. (1) A consumer report shall not contain

(a) information of an unfavourable personal nature unless reasonable efforts have been made to corroborate the information, the absence of the corroboration is noted and accompanies the information, and the information is less than 7 years old;

(b) information as to judgments or judicial proceedings for the recovery of money owing for goods or services, or based upon default under a conditional sale contract or mortgage or chattels or realty, 7 years after the default first occurred or the judgment was given;

(c) information as to bankruptcies 7 years from the date of a discharge, except where a consumer has been bankrupt more than once;

(d) information as to debt 6 years after it has become due, unless the debt has been acknowledged by the debtor or the debtor's agent either in writing or by making part payment or partial satisfaction of the debt, in which case the 6 year period runs from the date of the most recent acknowledgment of the debt;

(e) information as to the non-payment of taxes or lawfully imposed fines 7 years after they have become due;

(f) information as to convictions for crimes 7 years from the date of conviction or, where the conviction resulted in imprisonment, 7 years from the date of release or parole, but convictions for crimes shall not be reported after a full pardon has been granted;

(g) information as to criminal charges where those charges have been dismissed or not proceeded with;

(h) information as to race, religion, sex, political opinion, colour, or ethnic, national or social origin;

(i) information as to writs that are more than 7 years old;

(j) information as to writs that have been issued more than 1 year before the making of the consumer report, unless the consumer reporting agency has ascertained the current status of the writ and has a record of its current status in the consumer report; or

(k) other information as prohibited by the regulations.

(2) A consumer reporting agency shall not collect, store, retain or report credit information unless it is capable of corroboration from another source, and a reference to that source appears in the records of that agency.

(3) A consumer reporting agency shall not collect, store, retain, or report personal information unless it has made reasonable efforts to corroborate the evidence on which the personal information is based and a lack of corroboration is noted with the personal information and accompanies a consumer report including the personal information.

(4) A consumer reporting agency shall not include in a consumer report information other than the information stored in a form producible under section 24.

1977 c18 s20; 1978 c29 s3; 1988 c10 s1

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Sale of files

21. A person who is or has been a consumer reporting agency shall not sell or lease its files except to a consumer reporting agency registered under this Act.

1977 c18 s21

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Credit report

22. Where the credit risk of a consumer is being assessed by a person, that person shall, upon the request of the consumer, inform the consumer if a credit report has been obtained and the name of the consumer reporting agency.

1978 c29 s4

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Personal information

23. A person shall not procure or prepare a consumer report containing personal information from a consumer reporting agency unless that person notifies the consumer in writing of his or her intention to procure or prepare the report, together with the name and address of the consumer reporting agency.

1977 c18 s22

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Disclosure of file to consumer

24. (1) A consumer reporting agency, during normal business hours, upon the request of a consumer, and without charge,

(a) shall disclose to the consumer whether or not it has collected or retains consumer information respecting him or her;

(b) shall produce for examination in written form, clearly understandable to the consumer, the contents of all the consumer information, except medical information obtained with the written consent of the consumer that the consumer's physician has requested in writing be withheld from the consumer; and

(c) shall disclose the names of the recipients of a consumer report and the contents of the report, made within a period of 1 year before the request.

(2) The consumer reporting agency concerned shall permit a person to whom consumer information is disclosed under subsection (1) to make a copy.

1977 c18 s23

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Alteration of consumer information

25. (1) The registrar may direct the alteration, amendment, restriction or prohibition of the use of consumer information that in his or her opinion is inaccurate or does not comply with this Act, and the consumer reporting agency concerned shall comply with the registrar's direction under this section.

(2) Where a consumer reporting agency is directed to alter or amend consumer information under subsection (1) or alters or amends incorrect consumer information without a direction from the registrar, the consumer reporting agency shall notify all persons who have been supplied with the consumer report within 1 year before the alteration or amendment.

1977 c18 s24

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Restraining orders

26. Where it appears to the registrar that a person is not complying with this Act, or the regulations, or an order or direction made under this Act or the regulations, the registrar may, notwithstanding the imposition of a penalty in respect of the non-compliance, apply to a judge of the Trial Division for an order directing that person to so comply, and upon application the judge may make that order or other order that the judge thinks appropriate.

1977 c18 s25

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Regulations

27. The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) exempting classes of persons from the application of this Act or the regulations;

(b) governing applications for registration and prescribing terms and conditions of registration;

(c) requiring the payment of fees on application for registration and prescribing the amounts of the fees;

(d) prescribing the annual registration fee;

(e) requiring consumer reporting agencies or a class of them to be bonded in the form and terms as prescribed, and providing for the forfeiture of bonds and the disposition of the proceeds;

(f) respecting the suspension or cancellation of registration;

(g) respecting the books, accounts and records to be kept by consumer reporting agencies;

(h) requiring consumer reporting agencies to make returns and provide information to the registrar;

(i) prescribing forms for the purposes of this Act and providing for their use;

(j) requiring information to be provided or contained in a form or return to be verified by affidavit;

(k) providing for the approval of forms to be used by consumer reporting agencies;

(l) requiring consumer reporting agencies to submit forms used or to be used to the registrar for his or her approval;

(m) requiring the use by consumer reporting agencies of forms approved by the registrar and prohibiting the use by consumer reporting agencies of forms not approved by the registrar;

(n) prohibiting the use of certain kinds of information in consumer reports;

(o) providing for the holding of inquiries into the operation of this Act and into a charge or complaint that a person has contravened this Act or the regulations, or has made a false statement in a form, return, account or statement required to be completed or made under this Act or the regulations, or into another matter arising in the administration of this Act, and providing that the person holding the inquiry shall have the powers that are or may be conferred upon a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act; and

(p) generally, to give effect to the purpose of this Act.

1977 c18 s26

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Offences

28. (1) A person who fails to comply with or otherwise contravenes this Act or the regulations or an order or direction given under this Act or the regulations, or makes a false statement in an application, form, return, account, record, statement, instrument or other document completed or made under this Act or the regulations or under an order or direction given under this Act or the regulations, is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $2,000 nor less than $200, or in default or in addition to a fine, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 6 months.

(2) A director or officer of a corporation who knowingly concurs in a failure to comply with this Act or the regulations or an order or direction given under this Act or the regulations or in the making of a false statement in an application, form, return, account, record, statement, instrument or other document completed or made under this Act or the regulations or under an order or direction given under this Act or the regulations, is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $2,000 nor less than $200, or in default or in addition to a fine, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 6 months.

(3) A corporation convicted of an offence under this section is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 nor less than $2,000.

1977 c18 s27

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Limitation period

29. A prosecution under this Act may be started within 3 years from the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.

1977 c18 s28

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Certificate as evidence

30. A statement purporting to be certified by the registrar as to

(a) the registration or non-registration of a person;

(b) the filing or non-filing of a document or material required or permitted to be filed with the registrar; or

(c) the time when the facts upon which the proceedings are based first came to the knowledge of the registrar

is, without proof of the office or signature of the registrar, receivable in evidence as, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof of the facts stated in an action, proceeding or prosecution.

1977 c18 s29

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Evidence of carrying on business

31. Where, in a prosecution under this Act, it is alleged that the accused carried on business as a consumer reporting agency when he or she was not registered under this Act, evidence of 1 transaction is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the accused carried on business as a consumer reporting agency.

1977 c18 s30

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Appeal

32. (1) A person dissatisfied with a decision, order or direction of the registrar may appeal to a judge of the Trial Division.

(2) The appellant shall serve on the registrar a written notice of his or her intention to appeal within 30 days after notice to him or her of the decision, order or direction of the registrar.

(3) A notice of appeal shall be signed by the appellant or by his or her solicitor and shall contain the grounds of the appeal and shall be filed in the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court.

1977 c18 s31

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Hearing of appeal

33. (1) The appellant shall, not less than 14 days before the hearing of the appeal, serve upon the registrar a written notice of the day appointed for the hearing.

(2) The judge shall hear the appeal upon the evidence brought forward by the appellant and the Crown in a summary manner and may confirm, vary or set aside the decision, order or direction or may order further inquiry by the registrar into the facts of the case.

(3) The registrar shall produce before the judge on the hearing of the appeal all papers and documents in the registrar's possession that affect the appeal.

(4) The costs of the appeal are in the discretion of the judge, and the judge may make an order respecting costs in favour of or against the Crown.

1977 c18 s32

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