Understanding your credit report

Understanding your credit report
Geoff Thomas
Director, Marketing
If you’re like most Canadians, you probably don’t understand all the details of your credit report. But understanding your credit report is incredibly important in helping you detect signs of identity theft.

Last month we took a look at the credit score – that three-digit number that has such a big impact on our financial lives. This month, we’re going to take a look at your credit report, the information it contains, and how it can help you fight fraud.

What is a credit report?

A credit report is a record of your credit history. It includes information about any loans you’ve taken out, credit cards you’ve had, and whether you’ve made your payments on time. It also contains information about any bankruptcies or foreclosures you may have had in the past. But a credit report doesn’t typically include your credit score.
Your credit report is important because it’s one of the main factors lenders look at when they’re considering whether to give you a loan. If you have a good credit report, it means you’re likely to get approved for a loan with a lower interest rate. On the other hand, if you have a bad credit report, you may not be able to get a loan at all.
We update your credit report every calendar quarter so you can check for any errors and know what information has been reported to the bureau about you.

What's in a credit report?

A credit report includes four main sections: Personal Information, Account Information, Inquiries, and Collections & Public Record information.
Personal information: This section includes your name, current and former addresses, and employment information. Make sure that the information in this section is accurate – it’s how lenders identify you and incorrect information can be an indication of identity theft.
Account information: This section includes revolving accounts (accounts that have a credit limit and require a minimum monthly payment, such as credit cards), installment accounts (loans that require payment every month until the loan is paid off, like car or student loans), mortgages, and “other” accounts (like mobile phones, lines of credit, or rental agreements). It also includes information about your payment history, credit limits, and balances. Watch out for accounts that you don’t recognize, or accounts with unexpected balances, as these are indicators of identity theft.
Inquiries: This section includes the list of companies that have requested your credit report in the past two years. There are two types of inquiries: soft inquiries – like when we check your credit report and score – that are visible only to you and don’t affect your credit score, and hard inquiries that are visible to anyone requesting your credit report and may affect your credit score.
Inquiries for new credit are one of the first indications that someone may be using your identity fraudulently.
Collections and public records: This section includes any bankruptcies, foreclosures, or tax liens. If you’ve declared bankruptcy or your account has been sent to a collection agency, it will show up here.
These are a big red flag for lenders that will remain on your credit report for approximately 7 years. They have a significant impact on your credit score and could prevent you from getting any new credit until they are removed.
Making sure that your credit report is accurate is the first step in securing your financial identity and a good credit score. We can’t check if your credit report is accurate, so reviewing your report for errors is an important first step for you to take in identity protection. Having an accurate report means we can send you alerts if certain changes in your report are detected that may indicate identity theft so you can catch it as early as possible.
If you believe that your information has been used to open fraudulent accounts in your name or are a victim of identity theft, contact us immediately. Our Identity Restoration Experts can help guide you through the restoration process.
Though it can seem daunting, understanding your credit report is incredibly important. Knowing what information is included in your credit report can help you improve your financial situation and protect yourself from identity theft. Remember the old saying, “Knowing is half the battle.”

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