That’s the headline for my column in tomorrow’s paper, which is online here.
I’m annoyed to see Equifax and TransUnion pushing online access to credit reports at their websites (at a $15 fee) and downplaying your right to free access.
I’m also concerned about the heightened role that credit reports and credit scores play in your life as a consumer. They’re not just used to extend credit, but can also determine what you pay for insurance.
Many people deal with companies that are quick to send “overdue” accounts to collection, even if the charges are unfounded. You get a threatening letter from a collection agency and you’re tempted to pay up, just to keep your credit record from being tarnished.
On this blog, you can read about intimidation by companies — such as Rogers, Bell, Direct Energy, Summitt Energy and Premier Fitness — that resort to heavy-handed collection tactics. These become part of your credit history and later count as a black mark when you apply for new credit.
To make things worse, you may not be getting the message to monitor your credit report on a regular basis. Your vigilance is the only check against errors, incompetence and corporate bullying. Only you can ensure that the facts are right.
So, let’s stop credit bureaus from promoting $15 credit reports front and centre on their home pages. They’re bound by law to give you the information without charge. I’d like to see them take this responsibility seriously again.