Thursday, September 8, 2016

Adventures in Credit Reports

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 Request

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 Request

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.

Report Errors

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.


  1. I recently had an error on my Equifax credit report, which was a credit check that I didn't make. The credit check was through TD. Neither Equifax nor TD were in any way helpful at getting this corrected. Equifax indicated TD had to reverse the record, and TD wanted me to deal with the branch that made the credit check. But I didn't know this and they weren't able (or willing) to help me find out.

    The consequences of this unauthorized credit check weren't severe enough to warrant further action, so I eventually gave up.

    1. @ReturnsReaper: The mistakes in my files don't seem to be very consequential either, but I'm not sure I could get them fixed even if it mattered a great deal.

  2. Phoning in to the automated TransUnion worked for me last year. This year I got half way through, it said 'thank you for calling us', then hung up on me.

    1. @aB: TransUnion's automated telephone system is definitely harder to use than Equifax's. Of course, it may have decided it didn't like one of your answers. You might try TransUnion's online ordering system, despite the fact that it didn't work for me.

  3. That was my first time ever checking on my credit. I only bothered to do the online transunion check. it took me two tries at answering the questions to make it work, so maybe I made a mistake or forget something.

    There was a mistake with my name but was picked up on the other name listing. There were numerous mistakes with my home addresses, dates of habitation, including a business I operated being listed as my home. Much of my employment history was missing and dates weren't correct, and doesn't indicate I am no longer employed, or that my business was sold and corporation inactive. There were no incomes listed but maybe that is normal.

    There was nothing I could see incorrect with my credit.

    I'm not sure any of this is worth correcting at this point. I am sure it would be a tedious process and am doubtful it has any bearing on my standing or future ability to maintain or access credit.

    1. @RBull: I agree that it's probably not worth trying to correct. The only problem scenario I can think of is trying to rent a place sometime and having my credit report contradict something I've told the owner and having him or her decide I'm lying.

  4. I agree there could be a risk with having to rely on a potential landlord rely on contradictory information.
    Although my wife and I actually rented an apartment for a year, about 5 years ago while we owned another home and renovated it. The rental company did do a credit search and would have found the numerous errors I referred to, making them contradictory to our joint application. We have just checked my wifes report. Some dates of home ownership are not consistent with mine. I forgot to mention before my wife's employer was shown as mine on my report. There are a lot of errors between our 2 reports (employers & homes), but none regarding credit.
    We had no questions or issues on securing the rental.