Your Credit Report – How to Check and Correct It
If you have a bad credit report, you will have more difficulty getting further credit that you may need. Here’s how to make sure it truly reflects your situation.
- Get a credit reportYou can obtain your own report free, or for a nominal charge. To find out how, go to the credit bureau’s website, or call their national office, or look in your phone book for the location nearest you. For the two main credit bureaus in Canada:
Equifax 1-800-465-7166 Trans Union 1-866-525-0262
We recommend that you get your credit reports from both of these credit bureaus every year.
- Review your credit reportWhen you receive your credit report, read it carefully, looking for any mistakes or negative notes. Examples could be:
- Mistake: A loan you have paid back still shows as unpaid.
- Negative note: You stopped using a store’s credit card a long time ago, but an old unpaid balance is still listed.
You will want to get both these unfavourable types of items removed from the report.
- Correct any mistakes on your credit reportFor each mistake, make sure you can prove that you do not owe the money. Possible proofs include cancelled cheques or letters from creditors showing that payments were made and received. Then contact the credit bureau with your proof.Another approach is to write to the credit bureau explaining your side of the story, and ask that your comments be attached to your credit report.
- Get negative notes off your credit reportIf you really owe money, you must pay off the debt before it will be removed from your credit report. In the case of an old, small debt, this can be easy and well worth the effort.For example, if a creditor filed a negative report that you owe $15, repay the creditor and ask the creditor to remove the negative credit report from your credit record.
- Reduce your debt loadEven if your credit report indicates that you have made all of your regular monthly payments, a potential lender may look unfavorably on high levels of debt. The solution is to pay off as much of your existing debt as possible before applying for a new loan.We recommend that you pay off your highest interest debts first, so pay the 18% interest credit card off first, and then repay the 16% interest credit card.
- Take other actionIf you have more debt than you can possibly repay, your credit report will only improve by formally dealing with your debts. You may need to file a formal proposal to your creditors, or consider personal bankruptcy.
- Repair your creditGood news! You can, and should, improve your credit report, whether or not you have had a consumer proposal or bankruptcy. Even before it is removed from your credit report, you may make it possible to borrow for a car or even a house, by taking active steps to repair your credit. For more information, learn how to rebuild your credit.For further assistance, please contact us for advice.