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Check Your Credit. Check it Once. Check it Twice.

Published March 12, 2010 - 0 Comments

As part of my credit rebuilding mission, I requested copies of my credit report from both agencies tasked with maintaining that information in Canada.  There’s a fair amount of confusion when it comes to these credit reports.

First, in Canada there are two companies that maintain credit files: Equifax and Transunion.

Second, you do not need to pay a penny to see a copy of your credit report.  It’s totally free, but you will need to make your request in writing.  You will also need to include copies of two pieces of identification.  I used my driver’s license and my medicare card.

Third, your free credit report does not include your credit score.  For that, you will need to pay roughly $25.  I did not bother to request my credit score, as I have a pretty good idea what it is already.  (Although as I write this, it might not be such a bad idea to pay to receive my score, so I can get a baseline and do it again in a year or two.)

I dropped both envelopes into the mailbox on the same day, and oddly enough, received both credit reports in the mail on the same day, about 10 days later.  The difference between the reports is staggering.

Equifax’s report literally had 4 lines on me.  It told me that I have a cellphone account, and that it was paid in full.  It made no mention of the mortgage that I still hold in my name, which I thought was a little strange.

On the other hand, Transunion’s report was 6 pages.  It listed every single mailing address I’ve ever had, right back to when I was in high school.  It listed every phone number I’ve ever had, every single credit card that I’ve ever applied for, and every single company that has ever done a credit check on me.  It also listed the mortgage, and all the bank accounts I currently hold.  (Except the offshore one with all my millions that I’m safekeeping until the divorce is finalized…) Once you got past the fact that your entire financial life was being summed up in a half-dozen sheets of paper, it was quite interesting.  Even a little scary.

And there were actually a couple of surprises there in the form of who has done credit checks on me in the past.  Atlantic Lottery Corporation?  Back in 2002?  I don’t remember winning any large sums of money in the past, but I do think that I might have applied for a position with them around that time.  I don’t think that it went anywhere.  There was also a check from Capital One in 2007, which really surprises and annoys me.  That was during the CCS debt management program, and I would never have applied for a credit card.  So I’m a little confused as to why they ran a check on me.

For the sake of a few minutes of your day, photocopying a couple pieces of ID, and the cost of a stamp, I think that it’s well everyone’s time to send away for both of these reports.

Just in case.  You never know.