You can ask for a free copy of your credit report by mail. There are two national credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. You should check with both bureaus. Full details on how to order credit reports are available online.
We often mention TransUnion Canada and Equifax Canada as the two credit bureaus to use to check your score. Today we’re going to dig deeper and detail the steps needed to access your score from either of these resources in a safe and efficient manner.
Here are the 5 steps you’ll need:
- Step 1: Choosing a Credit Bureau
- Step 2: Gathering Identification Pieces
- Step 3: Determining How to Receive your Report
- Step 4: Understanding your Credit Report
- Step 5: Monitoring your Credit Score Monthly
Step 1: Choosing a Credit Bureau
Under Canadian law, you’re entitled to your credit report once per year at no cost. You have the option of receiving your report by either mail, in-person or online, which we’ll discuss further in Step 3. With two credit bureaus to choose from, which do you go with? The answer is actually, both.
Though most consumers don’t realize it, your credit score has minor changes from one credit bureau to the next. This is because every bureau, financial institution and lender use a different model to determine credit score. For example, TransUnion may weight payment history as 35% of your score whereas Equifax may weight it at 40% (these are hypothetical numbers). Knowing both scores will ensure there aren’t any unexpected surprises when you apply for a loan.
The best practice is to order each score 6 months apart. For example, you can apply for your report from Equifax Canada in January and your report from TransUnion Canada during the summer. This will allow you to monitor your spending habits and understand where your financial health stands.
Note: Equifax Canada refers to your credit report as “credit file disclosure”. TransUnion Canada refers to your credit report as “consumer disclosure”.
Though it’s important to get your credit report from both bureaus, you shouldn’t turn to your lender to find out your score. Asking your bank, credit union or dealership to check your report for you can actually negatively affect your credit score.
We also suggest being mindful of websites and apps that claim to check your score without affecting it. There are some credible third party website out there, such as BankRate.com and Borrowell.com, but many of them are scams. Anytime an unauthorized website asks for additional personal information, such as your SIN number, it will show up on your credit report.
Step 2: Gathering Identification Pieces
There are two different processes depending on whether you’re accessing a free report or one you pay for.
FREE REPORT PROCESS
1. Download the Canadian Credit Report Request Form
2. Photocopy two pieces of government-issued ID — this can be any of the following documents:
- Driver’s license
- Health card
- Birth certificate
- Bank statement or phone bill (only if your home address isn’t up to date on the above documents. Please black out confidential information)
3. Fill out the form with your contact information
4. *Optional Include your SIN number on the form. This step is optional, however, if you’re requesting a report from a reputable source, such as TransUnion Canada or Equifax Canada, we suggest it. Providing your SIN helps speed up the cross-reference check the credit bureau performs, meaning you’ll receive your report quicker.
5. Send in your completed form and proof of identity in a well-sealed envelope by mail or by fax to the provided address.
You should receive your report within 5 – 10 days!