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Since your credit report is a summary of how you’ve handled your credit products, it’s important to check it regularly to make sure it doesn’t have any mistakes or signs of identity fraud. If that’s your goal, there are a few ways you can do it that start by filing a request with one or both of Canada’s credit bureaus; Equifax and TransUnion. 

However, while trying to access their credit report, many Canadian credit users have recently been experiencing problems with Equifax being unable to verify their identities. If this has happened to you, this article can help.

Find out who was the first company to offer free credit scores in Canada.

Who Is Equifax?

A credit bureau stores various information about Canadian credit users, most notably their credit reports, which contain histories of all their credit-related activities. There are two primary credit reporting agencies in Canada, Equifax and TransUnion. Each bureau holds a different copy of your credit report and credit score on file. 

Originally an American company, Equifax has been around since the early 1900s and now services clients in over 20 countries, including Canada. They also work with many of our country’s big banks, like BMO, CIBC, Tangerine, and TD Canada Trust. 

Today, they store information for more than 800 million consumers and 88 million businesses, making them one of the largest credit bureaus in the world, next to TransUnion and Experian (which doesn’t offer services in Canada).

Free Equifax credit score

Who Can Look At Your Credit Report?

If you’re a credit user, you can get a free copy of your credit report from either bureau. Additionally, there are many third-party companies, like Credit Karma or Borrowell that can provide you with a version of your report/score.  

Other parties can look at your credit too, such as:

  • Financial institutions (banks, credit unions, etc.) 
  • Lenders (credit card companies, mortgage providers, etc.)
  • Auto financing & leasing businesses
  • Mobile phone & insurance companies
  • Governments, landlords & employers 

Learn more about who can check your credit report

How To Access Your Credit Report Online Through Equifax

To look at your Equifax credit report online, follow these 3 steps:

  • Enter Your Personal Information – Start by filling in an online application with the appropriate personal details, like your name, address, and date of birth. 
  • Create Your Account – Unless you’re a returning client, the next step is to set up your Equifax account. Other info may be required here, like your email address.  
  • Verify Your Identity – Before you confirm your account, make sure all your personal and financial information is correct to avoid any problems later on.

Learn how to dispute an item on your credit report.

The Importance Of Inputting The Correct Information

As mentioned, it’s essential to double-check your information before you enter it into the Equifax database, because of the issues that can arise following even the smallest mistake. In fact, one of the main reasons why Equifax would have difficulty finding your credit report might be due to an error in your name, address, or birth date. 

Plus, a mistake on your credit report can have some bad financial repercussions. For example, your documents could get sent to the wrong address or Equifax might mistake you for someone else, which may lead to credit damage that you didn’t deserve. 

Check out the most common errors that appear on credit reports.

Why Does Equifax Need To Verify My Identity?

Credit bureaus confirm your identity to prevent fraud and there are strict federal laws that surround our ability to access someone else’s credit report information. Anyone who wishes to see your credit report must first get permission. 

Thankfully, you’re allowed to check your own credit report whenever you want, as long as you pass the required security procedures. The process normally involves answering a series of multiple-choice questions that only you would know as the account holder.

Here are some of the common types of questions you’ll have to answer to be verified:

  • What financial institution do you bank with and what account do you have?
  • What kind of credit account are you using and who is your lender?
  • What date was the financial or credit account activated on?  
  • What is the size of the monthly payment normally made to the account?
  • What was your previous mailing address? 

Why Is Equifax Unable To Verify My Identity?

When you try to log into your account and look at your credit report or credit scores, there are two main reasons why Equifax would not be able to identify you:

  • You Didn’t Answer Your Security Questions Correctly – Since credit reports have strict regulations, you probably won’t be allowed to access yours if you can’t actually answer the questions Equifax asks you during the sign-in process. 
  • You Have A Fraud Alert On Your Account – If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you may have requested Equifax to put a fraud alert on your report. In that case, Equifax will not be able to complete the identity verification process.

How Can My Security Questions Make it Hard For Equifax To Verify My Identity? 

Unfortunately, things can get complicated during the sign-in process. While your verification issues could be due to fraud, Equifax may have trouble identifying you if:  

  • You’re Not The Primary Account Holder – Some of your security questions might relate to your financial accounts and monthly payments. So, if you’re only a cosigner or joint account holder, you may not be able to answer properly. 
  • You Choose The Wrong Lender – Some users struggle to answer questions about their credit accounts. For instance, when the answer is their card provider, rather than their bank or when the bureau lists the lender’s abbreviated company name.  
  • Your Profile Matches Someone Else’s – Remember, identification problems can also happen due to inaccurate information on your credit report. This occurs a lot to people with common names and family members who share a similar name or Social Insurance Number
Lookout Is Credit Monitoring A Good Way To Protect Your Identity?

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Lookout Is Credit Monitoring A Good Way To Protect Your Identity?
Is Credit Monitoring A Good Way To Protect Your Identity?

What Happens If Equifax Is Unable To Verify My Identity?

If you can’t see your credit report because Equifax is unable to verify your identity, there are several ways to resolve the issue and order your credit report: 

Order By Mail

To request your credit report by post, you’ll have to submit a completed Canadian Credit Report Request Form. With it, you need to include 2 photocopies of valid government ID (one must have a photo), along with a document that proves your current address. You can then mail the forms to Equifax Canada and wait for the validation of your identity. While providing your SIN is optional, it can help simplify the process and speed things along.

Be careful who you give your SIN to. Find out how to tell if someone is using your SIN.

Submit A Phone Request

You can also order your credit report over the phone for free using Equifax’s Interactive Voice Response System. The IVR system collects your information by voice recognition or keypad selection. If you’ve chosen a phone request, you will have to input your Social Insurance Number to finish the verification process. After your identity is confirmed, you should receive a copy of your report via Canada Post 5 – 10 days later. 

Learn how to read your credit report.

Make Your Request In Person

Equifax has 4 offices in Canada where you can request a free copy of your credit report following a similar application and identity verification process. Once again, you’ll need to bring 2 pieces of government identification, as well as proof of your current address. Watch out, because you are not allowed to submit photocopies during an in-person request. You must have the original documents on hand. 

  • Canadian Passport
  • Canadian Driver’s License
  • Provincial Photo Card
  • Canadian Citizenship Card 
  • Permanent Resident Card 
  • Nexus Card 
  • Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB) Card
  • Certificate of Indian Status (issued by the Government of Canada)
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada Document IMM1000 or IMM1442
  • Canadian Birth Certificate
  • Certificate of Naturalization 
  • T4 Tax Slip (some exceptions may apply)
  • Social Insurance Number (S.I.N.) Card issued by the Government of Canada

Note that for your Proof of Address to be considered valid, any personal or financial documents you provide need to be less than 90 days old and sent by mail.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I check my credit scores?

A credit report is a summary of your credit-related actions over the past several years, while a credit score is a more brief way to summarize your strength as a credit user. Credit scores range from 300 on the low end to 900 on the high end and can be viewed via Equifax, TransUnion, or a third-party provider. 

Why do I have more than one credit score?

Credit scores are calculated based on the information reported in consumer’s credit reports. Each credit bureau and third-party provider keeps a slightly different version of your report on file. This is because not all creditors and lenders report to both credit bureaus. Most providers also carry several versions of your credit score. So, if you check with a third-party provider or TransUnion, you won’t see the same score as you would with Equifax. Plus, the score may not be your official “beacon” score but rather a “client” score. 

Should I check my credit score with Equifax or TransUnion?

Since TransUnion and Equifax don’t share the same information, you should ideally be checking both versions of your credit score, along with your credit report at least once a year for errors or fraud. You should also look for signs of identity theft or mistakes on your credit accounts (incorrect payment details, etc.).  If you discover an error on either version of your credit report, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau. If you find signs of identity theft, you can request for a fraud alert to be put on your report.  

Why don’t I have a credit score?

If you can’t see your credit score, it’s probably because Equifax and TransUnion don’t have enough information about you to calculate one on your behalf. This is a particular problem with immigrants and people who have only just started using credit. On the other hand, a low credit score is often the result of issues like missing too many payments, errors on your credit report or getting your identity stolen. Most lenders consider a score of around 300 – 600 to mean you have “bad credit”, which may lead to worse approval chances, smaller amounts of credit, higher rates, and stricter terms.  

Will checking my credit report or scores hurt my credit?

No, checking your own credit report or credit scores counts as a “soft” inquiry and will not affect your credit. Soft inquiries usually remain on your credit report for 1 – 2 years and can only be seen by you. Soft inquiries also occur when a landlord, employer or lender that you already have an account with looks at your credit.  However, hard inquiries happen when a lender checks your credit after you apply for a credit product, such as a loan or mortgage. Each hard inquiry will stay on your report for several years and may lower your credit scores by a few points.
Bryan Daly avatar on Loans Canada
Bryan Daly

Bryan is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University. He has been writing for Loans Canada for five years, covering all things related to personal finance, and aims to pursue the craft of professional writing for many years to come. In his spare time, he maintains a passion for editing, writing screenplays, staying fit, and travelling the world in search of the coolest sights our planet has to offer.

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