Financial Literacy

Have You Checked Your Credit Report Lately?

Credit Report

In many ways,  September and October are a mark of new beginnings. Summer draws to an end with students returning to school. Activities that were on hold start up again and fall inspires us before winter puts us in nesting mode.  The weather is turning crisp and cool and it’s a good time to think about some of those things that you put off during those hot summer days.  One of those items, that now is a good time to take care of, is getting a copy of your credit report.

Credit reports are easily obtained free of charge from the two credit reporting agencies in Canada – Equifax Canada and TransUnion.  Just complete the form and mail it off to the preferred company along with the specified photocopied identification.  If you don’t want to wait for Canada Post to deliver it, for a fee (paid with a credit card) you can obtain your report online from both agencies – Equifax and TransUnion.  Each reporting agency has different clients so it is best to check with both as different information may show up.

A Credit Report Shows your Credit Score

Many people ask why they should obtain a copy of their credit report since financial institutions check on reports before granting credit.  Yes that is true, but if there is inaccurate and/or negative information in your report you’ll want to see it first.  Seeing it first gives you a chance to correct it if possible.  In addition, fraud is more common these days. You’ll want to know if someone else is using your identity to obtain a credit card.  The card may go unpaid and that negative information ends up on your credit report.

Also, someone else with the same name may have a poor credit rating and their information may end up on your report unintentionally.  Basically, it’s best o check your credit score before you apply for credit. You can check both now, then schedule a semi-annual update, alternating between the two credit reporting agencies every six months.  This helps to ensure that the information they have is accurate.

A good credit rating is important not only to obtain credit, but also when seeking a job or rental accommodation.  Your credit report will provide  lenders, landlords or employers with a history of how you handle your credit card and loan payments, as well as how much debt you are servicing.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has great information to explain everything you need to know about credit reporting.  Remember, it’s your payment history and available credit that affects your rating and credit score.  No fees paid or promises made can change your record. In reality, you’re the only one that can do that with positive borrowing behaviour over time.  Be a wise consumer and get a good start this September by checking your credit report.

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