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You Can Obtain, Monitor, And Correct Your Free Credit Reports
Your credit report gives creditors an impression about you. It shows them what your ability to pay is so that they can decide whether or not to extend you credit. If there is an error, it can hurt your ability to acquire the credit that you need to move forward financially.
One of the most valuable financial tools a person has is their credit report. The credit report helps a person get a loan, credit card, shows prospective employers that you are reliable, and shows landlords that you will pay your rent. A credit report harbors a great deal of information about you and that information can help you or hurt you, depending on the condition of that report. Of course, the way to ensure the report stays in great shape is to pay all financial obligations on-time.
Provincial laws, such as Ontario's Consumer Reporting Act, require the information that credit reporting agencies maintain to be correct, current, and complete. The two main credit bureaus in Canada are TansUnion and Equifax.
Free Credit Reports
Credit reports are scorecards in debt management. They track exactly how much money is owed and shows how fast debts are paid. They include everything from personal loans and mortgages to credit card accounts.
To get a free credit report, you can request a copy from Equifax and TransUnion. In fact, it is important to obtain a report from both since they can differ from one another. You can acquire your reports through the mail or you can go to one of the five provincial TransUnion offices and pick up a copy there. If you want to obtain a copy online, you will have to pay fees on the websites to be given instant access to them.
To receive your personal credit scores, there is a cost from both Equifax and TransUnion. The fee is small and you will need to provide them with proper identifications. The information that you can expect to find in your credit reports include:
- Personal information, such as employment details and your social insurance number.
- Credit card and loan payments. This information is updated every 30 days.
- Bank account information that specifies information regarding any insufficient-fund cheques.
- Public records, such as court judgments, bankruptcies, and secured loans.
- Collection agency activity that covers debts referred for collections.
- The number of inquiries, which is a list of who accessed your credit file and when.
- Consumer statements, such as fraud alerts and any marks on your credit report that you dispute.
When looking at TransUnion's report, they have certain graphic elements that will show when something is flagged for problems. Payment charts also show whether payments were made during the past two years. The payment scales summarize the late payments that have been made over a six year period. These scales specify 30, 60, and 90-day delinquencies.
When you look at your report, make sure you verify all of your personal and credit information. You need to make sure it is correct. If not, you can dispute incorrect information. If it is, you do not have to take any action. You also need to make sure that all of the inquiring parties had your approval to do so. If they did not, you can dispute the inquiry. Unfortunately, there are times when potential creditors may submit an inquiry without permission to do so. This can have an impact on your credit score.
Credit Report Changes
Provincial law says that you have the right to correct your credit report without paying any money to do so. Both TransUnion and Equifax have special forms that you can fill out to make the dispute process easier. Equifax's credit report update form on their website has a drop-down list of reasons behind the request. For instance, an item on your credit report may not be yours, you may have satisfied the debt, the debt may have been dismissed, it may have been discharged, it may have been included in a bankruptcy, or the debt was released.
The form also gives you the opportunity to briefly explain an alternative dispute reason in a text field. TransUnion also has an online form with a text field that allows you to document other reasons. The standard reasons for dispute via TransUnion include no knowledge of the account, paid in full, account not reporting, paid off before collection or write off, or included in bankruptcy.
After the form is completed, it can be sent to the credit reporting agency. The details that are provided are verified against the information that is filed by the agency before the corrections can be made. You can also add 100 more words to the credit report to briefly explain your concerns about a specific dispute. The agencies are required to include this comment in all future credit reports. This simple comment can have a positive impact on how creditors see you.
You can take advantage of fraud alerts so that you know when unauthorized activity has happened on your credit report. Very few Canadian consumers realize that they have a legal right to sign up for free fraud alerts through the credit bureaus. All the fraud alert is, is a message on your credit report that cautions agencies to contact you whenever someone makes a claim to see your credit report. This is a very valuable tool against identity theft. Once a person becomes the victim of identity theft, it is a very lengthy and expensive problem to solve. By putting this simple safeguard in place, you can protect against identity theft and fraudulent activity.
When you obtain, monitor, and correct your credit report when needed, you become actively involved in your credit profile. By being proactive, you are able to address issues when they happen and this will help you to have a better grip on what happens to you financially.
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