To find out who you owe money to, start by pulling copies of your old statements from at least the last year including loan statements, utility bills and your bank statement. Make a list of all your creditors (everyone you made a payment to in the last year) then go on-line or contact your creditors to find out how much you owe them right now.
If you are missing statements, contact Canada’s major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada to request a copy of your credit report. If you apply for a copy through the mail you can receive a copy of your credit report free of charge. You can also apply online for a fee. To apply for a free copy, send them a completed request form (available on their websites), and about ten days later you will get a list of all debts reported to the credit bureau.
Since lending institutions may report at different times or with different agencies, you should ask for a free copy from both agencies in order to get a complete picture of who you might owe money to. Since these reports represent a ‘point in time’ which may be in the past, contact your lenders to confirm your current balance payable.
Once you have a complete list, you can then contact your creditors to make repayment arrangements or bring this information to your initial consultation with a debt advisor such as a trustee in bankruptcy.
Some tips for keeping on top of who you owe and how much you owe:
- If you move, notify the post office of your change of address just in case your forget to change a few outstanding accounts. As bills arrive forwarded from your old address notify your creditors right away of the change.
- A simple filing box can be useful to keep old statements. File them by type or creditor name. As new statements arrive, shred the old statements you no longer need.
- Keep track of your debts using a simple spreadsheet, online service or personal finance computer software program.
Once you have an up to date list, stay organized updating your information monthly. Keeping track of who you owe money to will help you keep on top of your payments and reduce those balances.