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Even though it’s generally recommended to check your credit report about once a year, this is a financial chore that often falls by the wayside, even for the most financially-savvy of us.  Because an unkempt credit history can be hiding a lot of hassle for those unsuspecting, we’ve put together a brief primer on getting your credit report to help you stay on top of this important metric:

How to check your credit report:

There are two relatively straightforward ways you can request copies of your credit history reports from both (that’s right – BOTH) credit bureaus in Canada.  Because these are separate agencies they won’t necessarily have the same information, which is why it’s important to review both.

  1. Online: If you visit the websites for Equifax and TransUnion of Canada you’ll find links to receive a copy of your credit history report online.  While this is a quick way to get the job done, it will come with a fee determined by the agency.  If you opt for this route, be sure you’re only paying for what you want – different “packages” are available that will contain varying information and reporting.  For financial housekeeping purposes, you’re generally only interested in the credit history report itself, not your credit score!
  2. By mail: If you’re not in a rush, and/or you want to save yourself the fees you can use the “Credit History Request Form” to request hard copies of your reports, a copy of which can be found in the downloads section of our website.  You can obtain copies for free once a year!  You’ll need to fill out the form in entirety, attach copies of two pieces of identification and either mail or fax the request form to both credit bureaus.

Why you should check your credit reports:

Correct Errors:  Sources estimate that there are errors in anywhere from 10 to 33% of credit history files.  Unfortunately, some of those errors may be impactful enough to stop you from obtaining credit, or getting credit on the terms you want, others such as an incorrect date of birth may add unnecessary delays when you’re seeking credit.

Tip:  If corrections to your file are required, there will be a request form sent to you with your credit report which you will complete then return to the appropriate bureau.  Try to include as much documentation with the correction request as possible.

Detect Fraud:  Identity theft and fraud are a modern-day nuisance that thousands of Canadians deal with annually.  If you’ve had your wallet stolen, or had a home break-in, it’s of added important that you monitor your credit history for accounts that may not belong to you.

Tip:  If you’ve been a victim of fraud you should contact the police, the affected lenders, and the credit bureaus immediately to get further assistance.

Avoid Surprises:  It’s easy to have a few bills slip from memory over the years.  Avoid being reminded about that old cellphone account or unpaid parking ticket when you go to apply for credit.  Likewise for credit cards or lines of credit that you haven’t used in years – these items can be taking up needless room in your credit report.

For assistance in eliminating debts that may be weighing down your credit report, contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.  We can help you achieve a financial fresh start!

With over 30 years of experience, Sands & Associates is BC’s largest firm of Licensed Insolvency Trustees focused exclusively on assisting individuals and small businesses achieve their “debt free” goals.

To meet with a representative for a free, confidential consultation in one of our local BC offices, please contact us.