How to get access to your credit report

This is a guest post from Ross Taylor, a fee-based financial adviser who is a debt and credit specialist and licensed mortgage broker. Check out his website for helpful tips.

Many people ask for the best and easiest way to access a copy of their personal credit report. They are often surprised to find there are many different ways to do so.

There are three things to consider. How fast can I get it? How much will it cost me? Will I understand what I am reading?

First I will share my personal favourite approach: You create an online user profile at Equifax Canada. Assuming you can identify yourself properly, you will then have immediate access to the easiest to read format available to you.

If you are a first timer, spend $23.95 and order an instant version of your current credit report, which will also include your score and an assessment of where you stand, relative to other Canadians. The report will also provide you with factors affecting your personal score.

This report will remain available online for 30 days. Thereafter at ANY time in the future, you can go back and login and access a new report within seconds.

Feel free (this is optional) to do the same exercise at TransUnion Canada. Including your score, it will cost a total of $22.90.

Having done this once, you decide whose format you like best and how often you wish to access a new report.

Yes, if you follow my approach above, you have spent some money, but I like immediate results in a format which I find easiest to work with. There are cheaper ways open to you.

For a free copy of your credit report, use snail mail and send a request
Equifax address
TransUnion Canada address

You must provide two, ideally three pieces of identification which clearly demonstrate who you are and where you live. Copy the front AND back. At least one should be photo ID (but not OHIP). Your SIN card is the best second piece. The third can be a credit card, a statement or a utility bill.

Make sure the copies are clear and legible – copying and faxing can often degrade the legibility of what you are sending.

You can visit an office of a credit bureau in person.

For Equifax: If you live in or around Toronto, you can go to their office at Yonge and Finch (beneath the Xerox Tower) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and request an instant free copy. Take two pieces of ID.

For TransUnion: There are several offices around the country – pick the nearest one, take two pieces of ID, and request a copy.

For $10, the Equifax office at Yonge and Finch will give you a copy of your current report, including your score. You can only pay using a credit card issued in your name (no cash. Again – bring proper ID. I suspect you can do something similar at TransUnion’s various offices.

For $14.95, you can create an online user profile at Equifax Canada, and just order the simple report with no score.

You can do the same exercise for $14.95 at TransUnion Canada, and order the simple report with no score.

Finally, the reports they send you in the mail are not so easy to read. The reports ordered online are far better and worth the money. I suggest you order online at least once (especially if your report is ‘busy’) and thereafter you can refer back to it in the future when you look at other, cheaper versions of your report.

Oh, and by the way, don’t worry. You can access your report as often as you like and it will have zero impact on your credit score. These are called “soft inquiries.”

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

15 thoughts on “How to get access to your credit report”

  1. “Equifax will automatically renew your subscription at the end of each subscription period, unless you cancel your subscription by telephoning us at least 5 business days before your renewal date at 1-800-871-3250.”

    So I’m buying a subscription for the $24 report?

  2. Karl – I am pretty sure that comment only applies if you subscribe to the credit watch service offered by Equifax – Their monthly monitoring service for $14.95 per month. I have helped many hundreds of people purchase the $23.95 report over the years, and never ever have they had an auto purchase of a later report.

  3. Hi Ellen / Ross,

    With regards to credit reports sent in the mail, there is an easier way that I have personally used and advised my clients of.

    You can call Equifax (1-800-465-7166) and TransUnion (1-800-663-9980) directly. They both have an automated system where you answer identifying questions. The process takes less than five minutes and they will send you a copy of the credit report in the mail.

    You avoid having to send in identification at all.

    Neil Jain
    Fee-only financial consultant

  4. Thanks, Neil, for the phone numbers and the tip that no ID is needed.

    A problem for some people is that Equifax needs a social insurance number to use its system. That’s not an approved use of the SIN. I don’t think TransUnion requires giving a SIN.

    I wish that people could get their credit score for free. They need to know it to get better rates on loans and lower premiums on home insurance.

  5. I was required to cut up my credit cards when I entered into a debt management program.

    How can I access my Beacon score without a credit card?

  6. Which is it?: Free or $10.00?

    For Equifax: If you live in or around Toronto, you can go to their office at Yonge and Finch (beneath the Xerox Tower) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and request an instant free copy. Take two pieces of ID.

    For $10, the Equifax office at Yonge and Finch will give you a copy of your current report, including your score.

  7. Hi Peter, the credit report is free. But if you want a copy of your credit score, in additiion to the credit report, you will pay $10 if you go to the Equifax office.

    This $10 is a good deal. You usually pay $20 or more to get access to your credit score online.

  8. Hi Ellen, when i received my credit report from Equifax last month, I found there was an outstanding balance from Rogers Telecommunications in my account for more than 4 years.

    I am still a loyal customer of Rogers for more than 10 years.

    So I went through a customer dispute on the credit report for more than one month by phone. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any response.

    When I asked for their address, they told me that I was not allowed to send a letter and just had to wait.

    Can you give me some help to solve this problem? I am a victim of this Rogers mistake.

    When I did a search on the internet, I found there were more than 17 people with my name, just in Ontario.

    And when I contacted the collection agency, I discovered this account was for someone with the same name but his address was in Ottawa. He also had a different date of birth.

  9. I just tried to log on to Equifax to look at past reports. I did a few over a period of time, as I know you should review them: June 2003, June 2005, September 2006, June 2007, August 2008, February 2009, May 2010.

    They all expired as of Jan. 26 2011. Looks like no reports will be shown online if they are more than a year old for the older ones.

    For new ones, the last one I ordered (June 17, 2011) expired on July 17, 2011.

  10. When I got a call to say I owed money to the Bay on my credit card, I signed up for both Equifax and TransUnion.

    Found someone was using the HBC card I had declined and the address was not in my city. It was a Fedex adress in Montreal.

    But what alarmed me was to see I still had open accounts, which I thought I had closed, or were non existent like Eaton’s…

    It was very upsetting to see my credit had been affected, since we were in the process of buying a condo and the bank needed to know all of this.

  11. Why can I not get my Beacon score without a credit card?

    Like someone else mentioned above, I had to cut up my credit cards when I went into debt counselling. I’ve finished the program and want to start building my credit again, but I would like to know where I stand Beacon score wise before I start applying for credit again.

    Equifax won’t take cash for the Beacon score in person, only a credit card, and it has to be in my name.

    Why am I being shut out of the process just because I lack a credit card?

  12. Jenny – maybe you can arrange for yourself a prepaid credit card if you want one immediately. BMO has a good one – BMO Prepaid Travel Mastercard.

    Though for rebuilding your credit history you will want one, maybe two credit cards secured by a deposit of your own money.

    A secured credit card rebuilds your credit; a prepaid does not.

  13. Hi there,

    I have been plagued for years by debt collectors looking for a woman who shares my name. A helpful debt collector today told me that her Equifax file and mine appear to be intermingled.

    My mortgage shows up on her file, as does my address and profession. Fortunately, we don’t share the same birthday, which always proves that I am not the person they are looking for. But Equifax tells me that they can’t change a file that isn’t mine.

    Surely they have to correct glaring inaccuracies? And would this be considered identity theft or just negligence on Equifax’s part? Is there someone I can threaten to report Equifax to? Any suggestions on how to proceed would be appreciated!

  14. If I have lived less than a year in Canada, which address should I include in the application form to get a credit report?

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