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Maintaining a long and healthy credit history should be an important part of your financial life. Pay your bills on time, get a credit card at a young age -and use responsibly! A good history and credit score will make it a lot easier to access credit when you want, and for the best rates.

Even if you've lived the most financially responsible life, it is possible that the companies that record your credit history may have goofed up the information in your file. It is a good idea to order your credit report from one of these companies every couple of years, check the information carefully, and make sure any errors are corrected.

In Canada, the 2 major companies that record and report your financial information are Equifax and Transunion. Companies considering granting you credit (credit cards, mortgage, car loans, cell phones, bank loans, line-of-credit, etc) usually/always request a copy of your credit report before granting you access to credit.

There are 2 pieces to your credit history: credit report, and credit score. The credit report summarizes every active credit account in your name, and also records closed credit accounts for 6-7 years as well.
The credit score is a number between 300 and 900 that tells a company whether you are a risk to default on your loans. Equifax uses the FICO scoring system, and Transunion uses a proprietary scoring system. Different institutions tend to use one or the other.

You can order the full report online instantly, including score, for about $25. It is cheaper if you're not curious in the score itself, and just want the history. A free option is request it by mail - they ask for certain identifications. I went this route several years ago, and went through some frustrating iterations - forgot to photocopy the back of the driver's license as well, for example.

I ordered up both of our credit reports from Equifax the other day, just to keep them honest.

On mine, I didn't find much to worry about. Healthy score, accurate description of my credit history. The only thing they really got wrong was listing my current employer as a street address from 5 years ago. Yes, I work for "17 Pine Street"! Goes to show you how easily errors can appear on your report.

On my wife's, again nothing particularly wrong, but there were 4 old credit cards active that she didn't even have the plastic card for anymore. She called and had them all closed, which places a note "closed at consumer request" on those accounts.

And I had to laugh when my credit score was 1 point higher than my wife's!

What is your experience with credit reports? Any nightmares? Do you keep tabs on it regularly?
 

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I've ordered reports from Equifax before, including my credit score, but not from Transunion. Was the process similar? Did you notice a major difference in the information reported by each, or was it about the same type of stuff?

One thing I've noticed is that it took a long time to actually build up a great score. When I first got my report and score some years ago, I thought I would have a great score since I had little to no consumer debt, with a stellar payment history. What I didn't realize is that younger people (which I was, at the time!) don't have a deep enough history to enable the highest scores. Or so it seems.
 

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I've ordered reports from Equifax before, including my credit score, but not from Transunion. Was the process similar? Did you notice a major difference in the information reported by each, or was it about the same type of stuff?
I ordered Transunion once and can't say I noticed anything different. The score will be slightly different because of the different methodology used to calculate. I have been unable to uncover the scoring criteria/calculation used by either, and would love to know if anyone out there has information on that "black box".

One thing I've noticed is that it took a long time to actually build up a great score. When I first got my report and score some years ago, I thought I would have a great score since I had little to no consumer debt, with a stellar payment history. What I didn't realize is that younger people (which I was, at the time!) don't have a deep enough history to enable the highest scores. Or so it seems.
One thing I did read on the Equifax report is that length of credit history is 15% of the score.
 

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I thought the quality of service from TransUnion was above and beyond that of Equifax's. I check my report every year, and found the TransUnion method to be simple and straight forward.

Unfortunately it seems like Equifax is the more commonly used bureau, and I find they have more errors, and are harder to correct with them.
 

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Followup to comments on CMF thread "Question About RRSPs and how to locate them (http://canadianmoneyforum.com/showthread.php/96953-Question-About-RRSPs-and-how-to-locate-them?p=1210849&posted=1#post1210849)

Every place he has money will be listed on the credit file.
This would surprise me but I admit that I have never seen a copyof my credit report (Equifax or Transunion).

Equifax says: "Your credit report lists the credit accounts or tradelines that you have established with lenders. Each credit account will include information on what type of account it is (credit card, mortgage or auto loan, for example), the date you opened the account, your credit limit or loan amount, the account balance and your payment history." http://www.equifax.com/credit-education/credit-report/.

Gov't says, "Credit history information
-Credit accounts and transactions, such as credit cards, retail or store cards, lines of credit and loans
-Telecommunications accounts, such as mobile phone and Internet
-Negative banking information, such as chequing and savings accounts closed “for cause,” due to money owing or fraud committed by the account holder, and bad cheques (also called non-sufficient funds or NSF cheques)
-Public records, such as bankruptcy and legal judgments, and registered items, such as a lien on a car or house that allows the lender to seize it if you do not make payments
-Debts sent to collection agencies
-Inquiries from lenders and others who request your credit report
-Remarks including consumer statements, fraud alerts and identity verification alerts."


Gov't discussion and examples here: http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/Eng/resources/publications/creditLoans/Documents/UnderstandingYourCreditReport_eng.pdf
 

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The credit agencies don't track income or investments. They deal specifically with debt.

They work primarily for the lenders, which is why they won't address "mistakes" without the lender's approval.
 

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The credit agencies don't track income or investments. They deal specifically with debt.

They work primarily for the lenders, which is why they won't address "mistakes" without the lender's approval.
That is what I said SAGs, in the Question about RRSPs and how can I locate them thread
better known as "where can my brother-in-law find his long lost RRSP contributions?"

Why do some people here think the credit agencies aforementioned do?
 
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