Monday, February 11, 2013

Free Credit Reports

It’s a good idea to check your credit report occasionally to make sure the information is accurate and that your identity hasn’t been stolen to borrow in your name. Online credit report services with fees are heavily advertised, but you can get your reports for free as well.

Free reports are available to Canadians by calling both Equifax (800-465-7166) and TransUnion (800-663-9980 (outside Quebec) or 877-713-3393 (within Quebec)). You have to answer a series of questions to authenticate your identity, which involves a lot of punching in numbers on your keypad or saying the answers. I did this recently and it went quite smoothly.

My experience with Equifax was better because it repeats your answers back to you before you confirm that they are right. TransUnion said “if you are satisfied with your entry, press 1” after each piece of information I entered, but didn’t tell me what I had entered. In one case I incorrectly entered a date with only two digits for the year instead of four. Fortunately I realized the mistake and corrected it before moving on.

I placed my order recently with both Equifax and TransUnion on a Wednesday and got both reports by snail mail the following week (Equifax on Tuesday and TransUnion on Friday). This was better than my experience two years ago.

My reports were fairly accurate. One listed me as having lived at my brother’s house. The other listed a funny phonetic spelling of a former employer’s name that was off by 6 of 13 letters.

One thing you don’t get with a free report is your credit score. But I’m more concerned with ensuring that all the detailed information about my accounts is correct.

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