Back on June 11th I wrote a walkthrough to obtaining a free credit report from the two agencies in Canada. When I wrote that article, I also downloaded the forms and sent away, as I do every June.
I’m guessing that anyone who sent away when I did will have already received their report. The websites say that one can expect to receive the report 5 to 10 business days after they receive the paperwork. Since I first have to deal with a 10-day delay mailing from Japan to Canada, I only received my first report (from Transunion) today.
I thought I would give a second walkthrough in case anyone was not entirely sure what to look for in the reports.
Page 1 should just be an explanatory page, letting you know a little about credit reports and scores, why they have your file, and a Rosetta Stone of codes (M for mortgage, R for a normal credit card).
Page 2 begins your actual file. On this page you first want to look for any mistakes in your name, address or phone number. After that comes the meat of the report, which is a breakdown of all the accounts you have, and how well you have done paying them off. Again, you want to make sure there is nothing out of the ordinary in this. If there is a credit card listed that you don’t own, you will want to do some investigating.
You also want to check this page to see that all of your credit information is correct. If you know you have a $5000 limit, for example, but only $2500 is listed, you will want to have this corrected. This is important because part of your credit score is based on your credit ratio, which means how much of available credit you use. You should also check that your payment history is correct.
After your account history is finished, there should be a list of account inquiries, meaning any companies that have looked at your file. Some of these have no bearing on your credit score, others do. Look carefully and see if the inquiries make sense to you.
This is followed by a correction page. If there were any mistakes in your file, you should correct them on this page and send it back to Transunion.
Equifax has a different layout, but the information is generally the same as Transunion.
Page 1 will tell you how long Equifax has been tracking your accounts, and gives a list of you current and previous addresses. Of course, you want to check this. Starting on this page, or possibly page 2, is a list of inquiries into your file. Again, make sure nothing looks strange.
Page 2 will probably begin your credit and banking history. Depending on your accounts, this may be several pages. But just like before, make sure that you know all the accounts on your file and that nothing looks out of the ordinary.
Following your banking and credit information, there should be an explanation about your files in general. And after this there should be a correction form that you should use if there are any mistakes on your file.
And that should be it. Depending on the complexity of your banking and credit accounts, there may be more pages or greater detail. I’ve tried to list just a basic outline of what to expect.
The main thing to remember is that you should look through everything to make sure there are no mistakes. Mistakes on your credit file mean that there may be a mistake in your credit score, which means you may be paying more in interest than your should be.