There are two major credit bureaus in Canada: TransUnion and Equifax
Both offer (I think by law) free credit reports.
What You Need to Order Free Credit Reports in Canada
- A Canadian stamp
- 30 minutes of your time
- Access to a phone that can make toll-free calls
- Photocopier (maybe)
- SIN Number (required for phone ordering, optional but recommended for mailed report requests)
- Credit Card (maybe)
Background Information on Free Credit ReportsKeep in mind, it is only the reports that are free, so you won't get your actual credit score, just the credit report. The score doesn't really matter, your score is what it is, the report is the real meat of it and lets you know what you might need to do in order to get your credit score up. How the scores are calculated is a closely guarded secret anyway, so the number of even more useless since it has no widely known meaning.
Everyone should get a report at least yearly just to see what's on it. Identity theft is big business these days.
Of course, the Canadian Credit Bureaus, Equifax and Transunion don't make it too easy to get the free credit reports, since they make money by charging you for quick and convenient access to your report online, your credit score and for monitoring. They truly bury the information on their sites, while making the for-pay versions prominent and convenient.
So, this guide will explain everything you need to know to get the FREE CREDIT REPORTS. There are plenty of scams out there, where they give you a free report for the first month, and then start charging you a monthly fee or other junk. So be careful.
The funny thing about the credit bureaus is that it would be cheaper for them to just give free online reports to whomever wants them, but they instead charge you for this convenience, but will mail one out to you for free at their expense. Equifax and Transunion are charging for what costs them nothing, and giving away for free what would make sense for them to charge for.
To get a true impression of your credit status, you should get credit reports from BOTH credit reporting bureaus, as lenders will often just use one or the other.
Free Equifax Credit ReportsEquifax makes it relatively easier to get their credit reports. You just call up their 1-800 number, punch in your info through their automated phone system, and then they mail it out to you in 3-5 days. They also say that the credit report you get will have a telephone number for speaking to a real person if there's an error or dispute in your credit report.
To confirm your identity, they do ask for a credit card number. This is a legitimate request, they're not going to charge it, Equifax, as a reporting bureau, knows these numbers, and just verifies your identity with it. They don't ask for the expiration date, because they aren't going to be billing you. Don't use a prepaid card number, as they probably don't have it on file. Perhaps they ask for other information if their systems suggest that you don't even have a credit card, or then you have to mail in a credit report request form.
The number to call is 1-800-465-7166. To save yourself time, for the first 3 prompts, press "1", and when they ask for you to enter your date of birth, it's month/day/year, entered in as 8 digits: MMDDYYYY. Their voice recognition system is awful, so use your keypad to enter everything except your postal code.
When they start blabbing about your credit SCORE being available for $9.95, say "NO" or press "2". You just want your report, who cares about the score.
You can mail in or fax a form instead, but I don't see why you would, unless you want to set up your own credit monitoring system (see the conclusion for more details).
Free TransUnion Credit ReportsTransUnion buries the info for the free profile (or as they confusingly call it, a "consumer disclosure") on their website.
Funny, now they have to pay someone to key in all of this data into a computer for your free report, they couldn't just use an online form? Here's the link to the document for the free TransUnion Credit Report. If you're in Quebec, you get to use a special form!
Here are TransUnion's relatively onerous ID requirements (red part copied from their website):
TransUnion also requires both sides of two pieces of photocopied identification from the following list. Together these combined pieces must contain your name, current address, date of birth and signature.
Acceptable primary identification
We require one piece of valid, non-expired Canadian Government issued identification. Examples include:
* Drivers license
* Canadian Passport
* Certificate of Indian Status
* Birth Certificate
* Permanent Resident card
* Citizenship and Immigration form
* Health card (excluding provinces of ON, MB, PEI)
* Old Age Security card
* Department of National Defence card
Additional pieces of acceptable identification
* Utility bill indicating current address (within 60 days of issue)
* Credit card statement indicating current address (within 60 days of issue)
* Signed credit card
* CNIB card
* Social Insurance card
* T4 slip (current tax year)
* Notice of Assessments (current tax year)
* GST/HST Refunds (current tax year)
* Child Tax Benefits (current tax year)
Feel free to stick multiple credit report request applications into the same envelope to save money.
Free Credit Report Requests Canada Conclusion
- You DO NOT need to EVER pay for your personal credit report in Canada.
- Isn't it funny just how difficult one credit reporting agency makes it to get your free credit report, while the other makes the process so easy?
- I really wonder if TransUnion has different "identity verification" requirements when you're willing to fork money over for one of their paid reports
- Set up your own "Do-It-Yourself" credit monitoring: fill out a form, photocopy it 12 times, sign each one, and drop one for each credit reporting agency in a mailbox monthly. Do It Yourself Credit Monitoring for $10/year, not $12.95/month (per bureau)
- Think you have a good no annual fee credit card from your bank? Look into the MBNA Smart Cash and surprise yourself at how good a no annual fee card can actually be.
- Need a credit card, but can't qualify? Check out my report on the Top 5 Prepaid Visas and Mastercards in Canada.
- Information on Secured Credit Cards in Canada
Denied Credit? TransUnion says you're entitled to talk to themHere's an interesting tidbit, of course buried in TransUnion's website:
"If you have had an application denied within the last 60 days and a TransUnion credit report was used in the decision process, you are entitled to discuss your credit file with a TransUnion associate, by dialing 1-800-663-9980. Residents of Quebec, please contact 1-877-713-3393."
Equifax has the same service if you call 1-800-465-7166 and go through the prompts.