Your credit report is one of the main sources of information that lenders will use to determine how ‘credit-worthy’ you are. It’s therefore really important that you check yours at least once a year to make sure that it’s correct, up-to-date, and in the shape you expect it to be. Many consumers wait until the point of applying for credit to find out what their credit report says about them. This can lead to unexpected – and often avoidable – surprises. So, to make sure that your credit report is accurate and healthy, we recommend ordering a copy of your credit report as part of your annual personal finance checks. In this article, we’ll run you through how to get a free copy of your credit report in just a few simple steps.
Who issues credit reports?
All of your credit records are stored and maintained by government regulated agencies known as credit bureaus. They are responsible for producing credit reports for every Canadian citizen. The two main credit bureaus in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion, and they are the agencies you should contact to get a free credit report.
You are entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau per year. Not all of your credit activity will be reported to both agencies, so it’s a good idea to get a report produced by both credit bureaus to ensure you have a complete picture of your credit profile.
There are also third party companies that you can order through to get a copy of your credit report, such as Credit Karma, Mogo and Borrowell, for example. These services are tempting for many people as they are free, however their reports only show summary information which will leave you with only a snapshot of the information lenders will assess when you apply for credit. For this reason we strongly recommend ordering a report directly through the bureaus.
How do you order a free credit report?
The process for ordering a free credit report is relatively simple, and just requires you to submit some quick and easy paperwork.
You can order a report either online, by mail, over the phone, or in person. Both credit bureaus will want to verify that you are who you say you are, and will require you to send copies of 2 pieces of ID (front and back) with your application. If you have moved recently, you should also send a copy of a recent bill (utility, phone or lease agreement for example) to provide evidence of your correct address.
Ordering a free credit report by mail
Complete the Equifax Credit Request Form available online from Equifax (found here). Once completed, mail or fax your form, with photocopies of the required identification (which is outlined in the form) to:
National Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 190, Station Jean-Talon
Complete the TransUnion Credit Request Form (found here). Mail your completed form, with photocopies of the required identification as outlined in the form to:
Consumer Relations Centre
PO Box 338 LCD1
Hamilton, Ontario L8L 7W2
Ordering a free credit report by phone
Dial 1-800-465-7166 with the following information:
- Your Social Insurance Number
- Your birthdate in mm/dd/yyyy format
- The house number of your current home address
- Unit number if applicable
- Postal code (using the corresponding # on the keypad for each letter)
- A major credit card number, even if it is no longer active
- If you provide the same information that is on your credit file through this process,
If everything is in order, Equifax will then mail your copy within 7-10 business days.
Dial 1-866-525-0262 with the following information:
- Social Insurance Number, Visa or MasterCard number
- Your date of birth
- Your current House number
- Your home telephone number
- Choose your previous address, from 3 options, that you lived at during a particular year
if #5 is answered incorrectly, another question may be asked, for example, what is the credit limit on a particular credit card
If you provide the correct responses, you should receive the report within 5-7 business days
Ordering a free report in person
If you are in Toronto, you can go to Equifax to get a credit report in person.
Equifax is located at 5700 Yonge Street (North west corner of Yonge and Finch). There is direct access from the Finch subway station. The kiosk is located on the concourse level behind the escalators.
Make sure you have the following with you:
- all addresses that you lived at for the last 3 years
- 2 pieces of ID including one with your current address
TransUnion’s Ontario branch is located at 3115 Harvester Road, Suite 201, Burlington, Ontario. Their offices are open from 9:00am-5:00 pm.
Bring two pieces of identification, which must contain your name, current address, date of birth and signature.
Ordering a free report online
It’s only possible to order a credit report online with TransUnion. You will need to know your name, address, and social insurance number to complete the online form. You will also be asked four questions at random to verify your identity. The list of possible questions include:
- who have you received credit from?
- which is your previous address? (they will give you a list, and you pick one)
- which is your previous employer? (they will give you a list, and you pick one)
- how old are you today?
- what year is your car?
To get started, follow this link to the TransUnion website.
What happens when you receive your credit report?
The first step when you receive your credit report is to read through it thoroughly to understand what it says about your credit profile.
If you need a hand understanding what your credit report contains, you might find it helpful to read our credit report 101.
One of the most common issues leading to a low credit score is having mistakes on your profile. Negative information on your credit report will reflect in your credit score, which will in turn impact your chance of getting credit. The most common kinds of mistakes to look out for are:
- Incorrect mailing addresses
- Wrong social security number
- Signs of identity theft (usually in the form of credit you didn’t apply for)
- Inaccurate notices about late payments
- Unauthorized credit inquiries
- Incorrect information about any bankruptcies, consumer proposals or debt management plans
Correcting your report takes time and perseverance, but it is an important step to improve your credit rating.
If your credit rating isn’t as good as your would have hoped, don’t worry, there are steps you can take to improve things. We’ve compiled a list of simple steps that you can take to improve your credit report.