Equifax and TransUnion are required to provide Canadians with free copies of their credit reports once per year, but you only get these reports if you ask for them. Fortunately, asking for these reports by automated telephone system or online is fairly easy as long as you can get past the authentication questions. Here I describe my experience getting these reports.
It’s not too difficult to search for “Equifax free credit report” or “TransUnion free credit report” and find ordering instructions, but don’t be distracted by their attempts to divert you to reports that aren’t free. Find the word “free” on the web pages.
TransUnion offers a way to order free credit reports online that seemed easy enough, but didn’t quite work for me. The problem was that one of the questions they used to authenticate me was based on errors in my file. They crossed up my home address with that of one of my family members. I know what TransUnion thinks my address was 13 years ago, but it seemed wrong to authenticate myself by selecting a choice that I know is wrong.
So, I moved on to their automated telephone system. The sound quality is quite bad, but I was able to answer the various questions to their satisfaction. Fortunately, I wasn’t asked a question about past home addresses. The trickiest question was whether I had asked for a copy of my credit report in the past 2 years. My last request was close enough to 2 years ago that I was forced to guess. I must have guessed right.
Equifax doesn’t offer a way to order a free credit report online, but their automated telephone system is easier to use that TransUnion’s. The sound quality is better, and Equifax’s system repeats each answer back to you before asking if it is correct. TransUnion just asks if you’re happy with your answer without repeating your answer back to you.
I found a total of 3 errors in my TransUnion report, and 2 errors in my Equifax report. None of the errors are related to my credit history. They are all related to my history of home addresses and employers. The funniest error is a strange phonetic misspelling of a former employer’s name. The word “Cryptographic” was turned into “Kripta Grapixs.” I actually tried to correct this error 5 years ago. Apparently, trying to correct errors is futile.
The good news from this exercise is that I don’t seem to have been the victim of identity theft. I don’t have much reason to worry about access to credit, but credit reports are used in so many ways today that it pays to keep your record clean.