How to Get your Credit Report
If you’ve ever borrowed money from a lender you should have a credit file. Whether you’ve applied for a credit card or taken out a mortgage to purchase your dream home, you should have a credit report with the credit rating agencies. It’s important to regularly review your credit report to ensure it’s accurate and you haven’t been the victim of fraud. Here’s how to request your credit report (sometimes referred to as a Consumer Disclosure) from the credit bureaus.
What is a Credit Report?
A credit report is a personal record that includes identifying information about you such as your name, address, and employer, as well as debt obligations, such as car loans, student loans, credit cards and mortgages. Your credit report includes any time you’ve taken out a loan in the last six years. Not only does it show how much you owe, it shows whether you pay on time, your credit limit and your outstanding balance.
Equifax and TransUnion have developed a simple coding system to track your payment history. Your lenders regularly communicate with agencies and indicate if you’re paying your bills on time. The codes are made up of two parts: a letter and a number. The letter stands for the type of credit, such as “R” for “revolving credit.” The numbers can range from 1 (best rating) to 9 (worst rating). If you have a rating of 1 on all your different types of credit accounts, it will help you achieve a higher credit score.
Anytime you apply for credit, the lender can request a copy of your credit report. The lender will want to see a rating of 1 on all your credit accounts. It’s important to pay your bills on time, as credit information stays on your credit report for at least six years.
How to Order Your Credit Report for a Fee
The credit bureaus will generally try to get you to pay for a score/report combo, but you are entitled by law to a free yearly report by mail. Online reports generally are not free. If you’ve been the victim of fraud, it’s advisable to access your credit report instantly to see if any credit applications have been fraudulently made under your name.
An advantage of paying for your credit report is that you also receive your credit score and explanations of what’s helping and hurting your credit score, something you won’t receive if you order your report for free by mail.
The free reports are pretty well hidden, as the credit reporting agencies would much rather have you pay for your credit report and score. If you’re anxious to see your credit report and can’t wait the two to three weeks for it to arrive in the mail, you can order it online for a fee. Equifax charges a one-time fee of $23.95, while TransUnion charges $16.95 per month for its credit monitoring service. To order your credit report online, you’ll need a credit card, your SIN, and personal ID such as your driver’s license to verify your account.
How to Order Your Free Credit Report
There are two major credit reporting agencies in Canada: Equifax and TransUnion. You are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the credit rating agencies. You’ll have to make a written request to receive your credit report by mail.
To avoid paying, you can request your credit report every six months, alternating between the two agencies. If you suspect you’re a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft, it’s advisable that you request a copy of your credit report immediately.
To confirm your identity, you’ll need to provide your SIN and two photocopies (both sides) of government-issued identification (such as your driver’s license, health card, birth certificate or passport).
- Phone: You can order your credit report by phone by calling 1-800-465-7166.
- Mail or Fax: To order your free credit report by mail or fax, you’ll need to complete the Canadian Credit Report Request Form and forward to National Consumer Relations, PO Box 190, Station Jean-Talon, Montreal, QC H1S 2Z2. Alternatively, you can fax it to 514-355-8502.
- In Person: You can order your free credit report in person by visiting Equifax’s office at 5650 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M2M 4G4.
- For full instructions on requesting your free credit report, please visit the Equifax website.
- Phone: You can order your credit report by phone by calling 1-800-663-9980.
- Mail or Fax: To order your free credit report by mail or fax, you’ll need to complete the Credit Bureau Request Form and forward to Consumer Relations Centre, PO Box 338 LCDI, Hamilton, ON L8L 7W2. Alternatively, you can fax it to 905-527-0401.
- In Person: You can order your free credit report in person by visiting TransUnion’s office at 709 Main St. W., Hamilton, ON L8S 1A2.
- For full instructions on requesting your free credit report, please visit the TransUnion website.