Did you know that you can get your credit score and see your credit report for free?
Before applying for a loan, whether it’s for a new car or a mortgage, you should always check your credit report first. Lenders generally check your credit report to determine your creditworthiness. They also use it to help them determine how much to lend to you and what rate to charge you.
As such, it’s important to review your credit report to ensure it’s accurate and up-to-date. Moreover, if you realize your credit could use some improvement, you can choose to build your credit before applying to increase your chances of approval.
Find out how you can get your credit report for free in Canada.
What Is A Credit Report?
A credit report is a lot like your school record, but instead of displaying what classes you took, and the grades that you got in them, it includes all your credit accounts and how you’ve used them. That means your payment history, credit inquiries and types of credit used are seen. Other information includes public records like bankruptcies and debts sold to collections.
How To Get A Free Copy Of My Credit Report In Canada?
There are two major credit bureaus in Canada, Equifax and TransUnion. In the past, you were allowed to request a free copy of your credit report from both credit bureaus once a year. However, times have changed and now getting your credit report has become much more easier.
Transunion refers to your credit report as a Consumer Disclosure. A Consumer Disclosure is a report that contains all of your credit report information as mandated by the consumer reporting legislation. It includes your personal, account management, credit, and non-credit inquiries.
You can request access to your Consumer Disclosure online, by mail, phone or in-person.
- Online – You can obtain your Consumer Disclosure online once a month for free by creating an account online.
- Mail – To request a copy by mail, complete the Consumer Request Form and mail it to the TransUnion Consumer Relations Department along with 2 pieces of ID (photocopied).
- Phone – You can request access to your Consumer Disclosure by calling the number 1(800) 663-9980. To request your copy, you’ll have to use their Interactive Voice Response system to verify your identity. Once verified, you will receive your copy in the mail.
- In-Person – To get your Consumer Disclosure in-person for free, bring 2 pieces of ID to one of Transunion’s offices.
In Canada, Equifax provides your credit report and Equifax credit score for free online. If you prefer a paper copy of your report, you can also request your credit report by phone, by mail or in-person.
- Mail – To request a copy of your credit report for free by mail, you’ll need to complete this form and provide 2 pieces of identification (photocopies). Then mail it to Equifax Canada Co. National Consumer Relations.
- Phone – Call 1-800-465-7166 and follow the Interactive Voice Response system prompts. You will need to provide identity verifying information, as well as your SIN to request a copy of your credit report for free. Once verified, you’ll receive your copy in the mail within 5-10 days.
- In-Person – To get a printed copy of your credit report in-person, bring 2 pieces of identification to one of the four Equifax offices.
What Is The Difference Between Your Credit Report And Your Credit Scores?
Your credit report and your credit scores are two separate things. However, your credit scores are heavily related to your credit report.
A credit report is a file that contains a summary of all your credit accounts, up to a certain period. As mentioned, it includes details such as your payment history, credit inquiries, types of accounts open and closed, and other credit-related information such as bankruptcies and debt sold to collection agencies. Lenders and creditors use this information to help them determine whether they should lend you.
Credit scores, on the other hand, are a three-digit number between 300 – 900 that is calculated using the information in your credit report. It is a number that tells lenders and creditors how likely you are to pay your bills and debts on time.
Your credit scores may also be used by landlords to confirm that you’re an individual you will pay their rent on time. It’s recommended that you check your credit scores along with your credit report.
How Is A Credit Score Calculated?
Your credit scores are calculated using the information in your credit reports. However, there are many different credit scoring models, so depending on the service you’re using your credit score will vary. But generally, there are five main factors used to calculate your credit scores:
- Your Payment History ~ 35%
- Your Credit Usage ~ 30%
- Your Credit History Lenght ~ 15%
- Inquiries For New Credit ~ 10%
- Public Record ~ 10%
What Do The Credit Score Range Mean?
Good credit scores ranges anywhere from 660-900 and will open up the possibility of new credit products and other offers in the future. However, credit scores of 300-560 is considered low, meaning you’ll have a harder time getting approval from lenders and other organizations for borrowing purposes.
Who Creates My Credit Report?
When you start using credit products, your credit report will be created by the two major credit reporting agencies in Canada: TransUnion and Equifax. As your lenders and creditors report your credit information to the credit bureaus, they’ll compile your information, which can be used to generate your credit scores.
However, do note, that not all lenders and creditors report to both credit bureaus. Some will report to only one, while others may not report to either. If you’re looking to build your credit history, be sure to ask your lender or creditor if they report to both credit bureaus.
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What Type Of Information Will You Find On Your Free Canadian Credit Report?
Here is a list of the personal and credit-related information that will show up on your free credit report in Canada:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Current address and any previous addresses
- Your current and previous telephone numbers (home, cell, work)
- Social insurance number
- Driver’s license information (if you have one)
- Passport number
- A list of your employers, both current and previous
Credit Related Information:
- A history of your credit accounts and transactions
- Cell phone service account
- Internet service accounts
- Any “black marks” (fraud, NSFs, etc.).
- Legal judgements
- Your credit accounts that are currently in collections.
- Hard credit pulls
- Fraud alerts
- Identity verification
A record of all your credit related actions will remain on your report for several years. For example, if at any point you take on a loan, that action will remain on your credit report for 6 years. Unfortunately, bad credit-related actions will also remain on your credit report for a set number of years. For a more detailed look at how long information stays on your credit report.
How Do I Read My Free Credit Report In Canada?
As we mentioned above, once you’ve requested a copy of your credit report, you’ll find a detailed history of your credit usage inside. Each account will be listed in your credit report, identified by a number and a letter.
|Installment Loan (loans that are paid off in monthly installments)
|Open Status (you can borrow up to a predetermined limit)
|Revolving (you can borrow up to a predetermined monthly limit, payments fluctuate based on how much you’ve borrowed)
|Mortgage (installment loans for homes that, in some cases, do not appear on your credit report, depending on which credit agency you’re checking with)
|the account is not yet used or too new to merit a rate
|the account has been paid off within the agreed time limit
|payments made 31 – 59 days late
|payments made 60 – 89 days late
|payments made 90 – 119 days late
|payments made over 120 days late
|the account is not used
|the account is in consolidation, consumer proposal or a debt management program
|the account is in repossession
|the account is in heavy debt, and has been sold to collections or filed for bankruptcy
Learn more on how to read your credit report.
Example of a Candian Equifax credit report (click here for more information).
Who Can See Your Credit Report?
There are a number of Canadian laws, both federal and provincial, that specify who is legally allowed to access the information contained within your credit report, besides yourself and the credit bureaus of course. When you’re applying with a lender or creditor for a loan or other credit product, or with a potential employer or landlord who wishes to perform a background check, you’ll have to fill out an application with them. That application should come with a consent form that gives that organization permission to access your credit report.
Here is a more detailed list of who looks at your credit report.
What all these organizations are looking for are signs of your financial competency. They’ll look at your record of debt, if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy, any signs, both positive and negative, to determine whether or not you’re trustworthy and creditworthy. It’s important to note here, that when a lender, creditor, or other organization pulls your credit report, a “hard inquiry” will be put on your credit report, which may affect your credit scores slightly. However, if you wish to access your own report, it will be noted as a “soft inquiry,” and will not affect your credit scores.
How Do I Get Something Removed From My Credit Report?
The most common thing that people want removed from their credit report are errors made by either the lender or creditor that reported your account to the credit bureau. An unchecked error can have a negative impact on your overall credit, so it’s important to review your credit report at least once a year, to ensure all the information reported is accurate.
So, how do you fix an error on your credit report?
- Find The Errors – Firstly, you’ll need to get a copy of your credit report and make a list of any errors with either your personal (misspelled name, wrong address, etc.) or your credit-related information (wrong account numbers, balance information, etc.) that you come across.
- Dispute The Error – You can then dispute the error by contacting the credit bureau online, by phone or by mail. Depending on the method you choose, you’ll need to provide certain personal information, including but not limited to:
- Personal Details including your name, address, date of birth, SIN (optional)
- Details on the disputed item such as the company name and reason for your dispute (e.g., you have paid the account, etc.).
- Wait For Response – The dispute should come to a conclusion within the next 30 days. If the bureau is able to verify the error. The information will be removed from your credit report or updated as per your request.
FAQs On Free Credit Reports In Canada
Can I get my credit score for free too?
Will ordering a free credit report affect my credit score?
Why do I have different credit scores?
Both your credit report and your credit scores are valuable financial tools that can help you access different financial products and services. Lenders and creditors generally use your credit report to determine your creditworthiness and whether you’re likely to repay the loan. So, it’s important to regularly check your credit report and ensure that there are no errors in the information reported as it can impact your ability to access future credit.