by Kevin Sun
Few things are free in life, but thankfully, checking your full credit report is one of those things. Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada, our official credit bureaus, each have their own version of your credit report. Other companies pull info from these reports when making decisions like whether to approve a credit application. If you haven’t checked your report before, here are 3 reasons why you should do so now for free:
1. Your Credit Report Gives You a Fuller Picture of Your Credit Situation
Unlike certain 3-digit numbers, your credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion give you a fuller picture of your credit status in Canada. This includes your credit history for the last 6-7 years, what credit accounts you’re using right now, and who has made soft or hard credit inquiries on your file. If you’re having trouble getting approved for new credit and are not sure why, then the answer is probably in your credit report. Even if you’re doing just fine, having all that info can help you plan for the future, especially if you’re hoping to make big financial decisions like buying a home or car. And when getting that info is free, why not take advantage?
2. Checking Your Free Full Credit Report Is Easier than Ever
In the past, getting access to your full credit report for free was a bit of a hassle. You could only get 2 annual credit reports for free in Canada, and you’d have to either mail your requests in writing, call the credit bureaus, or fax them. Each report would be sent to you by snail mail, which can be frustrating when you’re trying to figure something out right away. However, getting access to your free credit reports can now all be done online. This goes for both your free Equifax credit report and your TransUnion Canada free credit report (which TransUnion calls a Consumer Disclosure). These are both updated at least monthly, making it much easier to stay on top of your credit situation. Equifax will even give you a free full credit report and score (the latter of which is only for educational purposes). If you live in Quebec, TransUnion will also provide you with a free educational credit score.
3. Checking Your Full Credit Report Helps Protect You Against Fraud
Checking your full credit report often helps you catch fraud more quickly. For example, if you start seeing hard credit inquiries from companies you’ve never contacted or credit accounts you never opened, you’ll know that something’s wrong. The quicker you catch and report the fraud happening, the higher your chances will be of keeping the damage to a minimum.
Unfortunately, having free online access to your credit reports might have made it easier for fraudsters to highjack your accounts with the credit bureaus. For example, if you’ve never accessed your online free report before, then it can sometimes be possible to get that access with just your full name, birthday, and address. The first person who gets access will then be prompted to create an account with an email and password of their choosing. Once that’s done, access to the credit report will be locked behind the account. This might all change in the future, but to be safe, make sure to access your full credit report at least once from both credit reporting agencies. Plant your flag and create a secure login that only you know. If you can’t access your credit report because an unknown account has already claimed it, then immediately report this to the credit bureaus and check for fraudulent activity on your credit file.
What to Do After Getting Your Free Full Credit Report
Once you have your free full credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion, check to see that all the info is as it should be. When your credit rating isn’t where you want it to be, your report can shed insights on what’s dragging it down and how you can improve it. If needed, a non-profit credit counsellor can help with analyzing your credit report and making a practical plan to reach your financial goals. Like accessing your report, speaking with a professional counsellor is free and can often be done online. Find a non-profit credit counselling agency in your area today.