Anytime you want to get a loan, mortgage, a simple credit card or an overdraft protection on your chequing account, your credit history will be checked. It is a really good idea to know your credit rating and if your score is too low or something is incorrect (this is very common), to try and improve it.
First step, if you want to learn more about credit rating, check the site of Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).
Getting your free report in Canada is as simple as requesting it from two credit-reporting agencies: Equifax and TransUnion (different organization use different credit-reporting agencies, so get reports from each agency). Both have automated phone systems that will verify your identity and will mail you your credit report for free. It only takes 3-5 business days.
Have these things on hand for your identity verification:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- credit card number (Visa or MasterCard, Amex also works with Equifax)
- date of birth
- civic/house number
- unit/Apt number if applicable
- postal code
- home phone number
TransUnion's automated system will also ask multiple choice verification questions like: what street address you used to live on in the past 10 years, who was your previous job with, what financial institution is your credit card with, who is your cell phone provider, etc. The problem is that this system is nothing more than a very simple text-to-speech program and is very hard to understand, so pay attention.
Equifax's phone system is much more polished, but the voice recognition could be a bit buggy (if you've called Rogers before you'll know what I'm talking about), luckily all answers could be entered with touch tone phone.
These are the numbers I used to call each credit-reporting agency (found on their "contact us" page):
- Equifax Canada: 1-800-465-7166 (toll free)
- TransUnion Canada: 1-800-663-9980 (toll free)
Aside: if you're in a rush and don't want to wait for snail mail, both agencies also offer instant access to your credit history, but for a fee.
There are sites that offer "free" access to your credit report, but you must cancel your subscription within seven days or you'll be charged $20 or more. They still get your credit report from Equifax and TransUnion, but now you're dealing with an untrusted third party, plus you might end up paying for their "free" service. I do not recommend using them, you've been warned.