The majority of Canadians do not regularly check their credit reports and there are three main reasons why.
1) They don’t realize they can. Many think that the credit report is something only a lender can check. That is a myth. You can check your own credit report any time.
2) They think it will impact their credit score. Also, a myth. Checking your own credit report has no impact on your credit score as it’s known as a credit file disclosure or consumer disclosure.
3) They don’t know how to do a credit check.
Checking your score matters as it could mean the difference between getting approved or refused for credit. It can affect your ability to rent housing and it can also check to see if someone has tried to steal your identity and open debts in their name. Mistakes happen and information can be reported incorrectly. It’s up to you to make sure the information on the report is accurate.
A credit report is not the same thing as a credit score. A credit report is a record of your past and present use of credit cards and loans. It includes details about your bill payments and your personal information. A credit score is a three-digit number produced by a mathematical formula using the information in your credit report. Just another reason to make sure the credit report is accurate.
There are two official credit reporting agencies in Canada: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. Each credit bureau may have different information reported as some creditors only update with one or the other but necessarily both. You should request a report from both to get a true and accurate credit picture.
You can check your report for FREE by sending a request by phone, mail or fax. Both agencies have forms on their websites that you can download, print, and send to them requesting your report. In addition to the completed form, you will need copies of 2 pieces of ID such as your driver’s license or passport. You can also order your report by telephone below. You will need to confirm your identity by answering a series of questions and you ay also need your SIN number or a credit card number to confirm your identity.
If you don’t want to wait, you can order reports online at www.transunion.ca or www.equifax.ca. There is usually a small fee of approximately $16 for each report but currently Equifax Canada is providing a free credit report.
There are other companies that offer FREE credit reports such as Credit Karma. However, since they are not an official credit reporting agency in Canada the information may not be accurate.
Now you have your credit report it’s important to understand how to read and interpret it. Stay tuned for our next blog on How to Understand Your Credit Report.