Obtaining your credit reports and score – Financial Facts

Obtaining your credit reports and score

Given the importance of your personal credit report, you may be pleased to know that federal law entitles you to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from the two main credit bureaus in Canada (Equifax and TransUnion). Both the Equifax and TransUnion websites promote their online services, encouraging you to pay for quick online access to your credit report.However, you can obtain a credit report for free by requesting it by mail.

You need to submit a form (which you can print online) along with photocopies of two government-issued pieces of identification. You can contact Equifax and TransUnion here: Equifax Canada National Consumer Relations P.O. Box 190, Station Jean-Talon Montreal, QC H1S 2Z2 800-465-7166 www.equifax.com TransUnion Consumer Relations Department P.O. Box 338, LCD1 Hamilton, ON L8L 7W2 800-663-9980 www.transunion.ca Residents of Quebec can use the following information to contact TransUnion: Centre De Relations Aux Consummates TransUnion 1 Place Laval Ouest, Bureau 370 Laval, QC H7N 1A1

877-713-3393 www.transunion.ca When you receive your reports, the best first step is to examine them for possible mistakes (see the upcoming section “Getting credit report errors corrected” to find out how to fix problems in your reports). You may be surprised to find that your credit reports do not include your credit score. The reason for this is quite simple: Although the credit agencies must provide a free credit report annually to those who request a copy, they aren’t mandated to provide a credit score. So, if you want to obtain your credit score, it’s going to cost you. You can pay Equifax and TransUnion for your credit score. Save your money.

There are lower-cost ways to get your credit score. In fact, you can get your current credit score without paying anything! You can start with the FICO score simulator at www.myfico.com/free-credit-score-range-estimator, which provides you with an estimated range for your FICO score based upon your answers to a shortlist of questions about your history with and usage of credit. If you do choose to pay for your current credit score, be crystal clear about what you’re buying. You may not realize that you’re agreeing to some sort of ongoing credit monitoring service for $200 or more per year, an expenditure we don’t generally feel is worthwhile. And the credit bureaus’ websites seem designed to send you down the wrong — and much more expensive — path. Consider TransUnion’s particularly devious online form for obtaining your credit report and score. It begins by asking you for a lot of personal information — even your Social Insurance Number, which it then notes in much smaller letters is “optional.” Worse, it doesn’t make it clear what exactly you’re purchasing or the price. It’s only over on the right-hand side of the page, under a bright banner saying “You have chosen:” accompanied by yet another stock photo of a woman beaming a smile of sheer joy, that you find out the truth: Not only is the cost $19.95, but you’re actually signing up for TransUnion’s ongoing credit monitoring service … for $19.95 every month!

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