Your credit report is one of the most important documents that credit agencies and lenders will look at before deciding whether you qualify for their services. This report details your credit and financial history; everything from your basic information (name, address, and so on) to your current available credit, existing debts, and any inconsistencies or late payments. Credit reports are incredibly detailed so as to give the credit agent or lender the most accurate snapshot of your financial history as possible.
Unfortunately, errors can mistakenly make their way onto an individual’s credit report. This is a common experience, but it’s not impossible to clear up. Incorrect information, from a mistake in your listed address to inaccurately depicting how many payments you’ve made on a loan, can negatively impact your credit score. This, in turn, makes it harder to get a mortgage or qualify for a loan of any type with a decent interest rate.
If you want to safeguard your credit score, you need to look at it every now and then and actively pursue correcting any errors.
How to Get Your Credit Report
You can request a copy of your credit report from Equifax, which is the primary credit reporting agency in Canada. Canadian residents are entitled to request a free copy of their credit report every twelve months. This free report should be reviewed so as to ensure that it contains up-to-date and accurate information. To request a free copy of your credit report simply go to Equifax.ca, complete the required form and follow the instructions provided.
Addressing Errors on Your Credit Report
So, you now have a copy of your credit report in your hand. You’ve taken the first step toward protecting your credit and your financial future. But the second, and more important step, requires you to check the document for accuracy.
Do not overlook your basic information. Many people skip the basics like their name and address to check the actual credit reporting part of the document for errors. However, it is distinctly possible that there has been an error in reporting the consumer’s name, address, or other aspects of their basic information. If your name is “Daniel” but the report says “Dan,” for instance, you should get this corrected even if it seems like a small and meaningless error.
From there, ensure that your credit history has been accurately reported. It’s crucial that your credit report reflects:
• Any accounts that you have closed. Make sure that it’s accurately reported that either you or the lender closed these accounts.
• Only your credit details, if you are unmarried or divorced.
• Loan or credit repayments being paid to the proper lender.
• The removal of old, bad debts.
• Accounts that you know you opened. If an account has been opened under your name by somebody else, it will appear on your credit report. You could be a victim of identity theft.
Fixing Credit Reporting Errors
You’ve now reviewed your copy of your credit report and something isn’t right. What steps do you need to take from here to address one or more errors on your report?
The first thing that you should do is contact the credit bureaus that provided the report and contact the credit agency that provided the report to the bureau.
This can often be done online, and reporting to both agencies requires the same information. First, you should include in your written statement details of exactly which elements of your report you’re disputing. It can help to send a copy of your credit report with the inaccurate information circled, for clarification. In your written communication with these agencies, make your reasons for the dispute clear and also clarify whether you’re looking to have the inaccurate item deleted or changed on your report.
If there is any documentation that can help bolster your case and prove to the credit agency and bureau that your information is being incorrectly reported, be sure to include copies (not originals) of this information.
The bureau will investigate the documentation you’ve provided to them, but this does not automatically mean that everything will be fixed as you requested. Sometimes, the dispute is rejected. In this case, it’s not uncommon to hire an attorney or a credit repair firm to tackle this matter.
The important thing with any aspect of your credit report is to be diligent about ensuring its accuracy. When you are aware of what details are on your report, you’re then able to remedy any inaccuracies. This can improve the overall impression of your credit and even improve your credit score.