Reviewing your credit report at least once a year is part of a healthy financial routine. What you should be on the lookout for is errors or out-of-date information.
This annual routine is important because you don’t want inaccurate information to hold you back from achieving your financial goals. Here are some big reasons to check your credit report:
Below are links on where to get your free credit report and how you can apply to have errors corrected. We also explain what the typical credit report looks like. For more information on how credit reports work download our free Credit Rebuilding 101 E-book.
TransUnion now provides consumers with access to their credit report for free online. You just need to answer a few personal questions to confirm your identity. You can also go to the Equifax website, pay a fee and have instant access to your credit report. I haven’t provided links for the Equifax option because you should not have to pay for information that is available at no cost. Here’s how to get your credit report for free:
Calling each credit bureau is one way to obtain your credit report free of charge.
Each credit bureau requires similar information: social insurance number, date of birth, address (including postal code), credit card number (even if it is no longer active).
Estimated Waiting Period: You would typically receive your credit report within one to two weeks.
This is the other free method. Mail and fax are technologies that may seem old fashioned, but they are still effective. You can complete the credit request forms for Equifax and Trans Union and then submit by mail or fax. Turnaround time is typically one to two weeks.
Credit bureaus get their information from various creditors and sometimes mistakes are made in both reporting and recording. If you do find errors, it is important to get these mistakes corrected as soon as possible. You can follow the links to the dispute resolution procedures for Equifax and Trans Union. You will need to provide proof of the error and will need to be diligent in following up to ensure the issue is corrected.
If you have been bankrupt or filed a consumer proposal, the notice of your filing will be removed from your credit report after a certain period of time. If you believe your notice should be removed, use this dispute resolution process to contact the appropriate agency. Each bureau keeps records for a different length of time but generally the notice of your bankruptcy or proposal should be removed:
Another common issue we see is that creditors will incorrectly report individual debts as ‘included in a bankruptcy’ when they may have been included in a consumer proposal. The correct legal proceeding is reported to the credit bureau by the Office of the Superintendent of bankruptcy and will appear in the legal section of your credit report. These debts should be purged from your report six years after the last activity. For some creditors this will be the last payment date, for others it may be the date of filing bankruptcy or a consumer proposal.
Each creditor that reports to the credit reporting agencies will have their own line where they report on your payment history. These are called trade lines. Creditors will report your history with a letter followed by a number. The letters are loan codes and the numbers are payment history codes. Let’s decode them together:
Payment History Codes
Your credit report will include your legal name, birth date, and a note about whether or not your social insurance number is on file. It will also include a list of all known addresses, employers, and phone numbers. All of these will be listed starting with your most recent, and ending with the oldest known entry.
Below is a sample of how your credit report from Trans Union will look.
Source: Ian Martin, CA, LIT [https://www.hoyes.com/]