One helpful tip that I recently came across was the importance of obtaining a copy of your credit report on a regular basis. The specifics of your credit score not only have major implications on your ability to secure financing, but knowing this rating also directly relates to the level of success you achieve at maintaining a strong credit history overall. Since these details clearly reflect you ongoing credit strengths, challenges and mistakes, it is highly beneficial to follow up on these figures consistently.
When I first was advised to keep more up-to-date with my credit report, I honestly had no idea where I would even find a copy of it. After looking into this a bit further, I became aware of the Canadian Credit Bureau’s, Equifax and TransUnion, as a point of contact for getting your hands on a copy of your credit report.
According to the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA), these credit reporting bureaus are require to send you a FREE copy of your report – every 12 months, however you must first request this action be taken. To order a copy you can go to the website, annualcreditreport.com and make an online request. You can also place a request over the phone or by mail and all the details are outlined on this site. The 3 Bureau’s themselves are not contacted directly in this instance, however, to purchase an additional copy of your report, you can contact any one of them at any time throughout the year.
Next, I learned another very valuable piece of information. It is suggested that you request a copy from each of the bureaus. This seemed a bit unnecessary to me at first, however the reason for this, is that each agency receives their information from different sources and therefore each report may contain different and only select pieces of information. It is also a suggestion that you request one report at a time. By spreading out these 3 requests over the 12 month period, you may find you can keep a better eye on how accurate and complete the information is, as reflected in your credit history.
Do not worry though, this does not necessarily mean that the information is incorrect on one or more of the reports. It just means that each may reflect different credit information, pertaining to your financial situation. So what do you do if you do find errors in your report? Well, I have got you covered there, as this is exactly what happened to me after I reviewed my report.
After checking to make sure my personal contact information, address, etc. was accurate and my name was spelled correctly – all fine, I then looked more closely at the accounts, loans, payments, and so on. I noticed a loan that I didn’t recognize as one of ours on the report. At this point, I wasn’t sure what course of action I should take to have this issue resolved and went into a bit of a panic.
So, you can probably guess what I did next . . . yes, you guessed it – I did a little further research and here are the steps I uncovered and followed to correct the discrepancies on my report. As a side note, even if you are unsure or you notice the tiniest of errors, it is best to look into it as it will certainly lead to many unwanted credit issues for you over time.
#1 – First of all, you can start thing off by going through the following set of questions, asking yourself:
• Is my personal information (i.e. address and name) correct on this report?
• Is my account payment history correct for each loan/credit provider?
• Are the dates listed the correct dates of account (s) activation?
• Are the balances correct for each account?
• Are there any accounts/loans that show up that I didn’t apply for?
• Are there any inactive accounts that show recent activity/activity after closing them?
• Is there any information missing from my report?
#2 – Secondly, if you do find any of these errors or missing pieces of information, you should contact the reporting bureau and file a dispute. The reporting bureau is required to deal with the dispute within a 30-45 day period of time and will review the information. If you are correct, and the information is found to be inaccurate, the bureau will re-adjust the information as well as send the corrections onto the other bureaus.
Apparently, finding errors in one’s credit report is actually more common than one would think and you should not hesitate to contact the appropriate bureau, if you need to discuss the errors you have found. Any discrepancies in your report will certainly affect your credit score and make it more difficult to secure loans and credit down the road. Another important issue that you want to address, especially if your report reflects account or loan activity that you haven’t performed yourself, is that you aren’t dealing with a case of identity theft. This is plenty of enough warning to try and stay on top of all things credit-related in your life.
Overall, this situation did add a bit of stress to our daily lives, however, in the end it was comforting to know that there was a detailed process that I could follow to get everything resolved as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, I am still waiting to hear back from the bureau with the known outcome, but one thing’s for sure – it feels great to take a proactive stance towards situations like this and I am very proud of myself to have dealt with this issue. This is yet another way that makes me realized that I am making process in this area and taking better care of our finances.