How to check your credit score for free in Canada
TORONTO -- Credit scores are designed to predict if consumers will pay their bills on time and the higher the number, the better the risk you are to a potential lender.
If you wanted to know your credit score, in the past you had to pay about $30 to a credit reporting agency, but now they will be available for free.
"This is fantastic news for all consumers," Adriana Molina, Communications Manger with Credit Canada, said.
The government of Quebec passed legislation last month to better protect consumers from fraud and identity theft.
Equifax and TransUnion are now required by law to allow Quebecers to check their credit reports and scores online at no charge.
Equifax decided to take it a step further and allow all Canadian access to their credit information online for free.
"You can access both your credit file and your credit score for free online through the Equifax website," Julie Kuzmic, the Director of Consumer Advocacy at Equifax Canada, said.
"Under the new Credit Assessment Agents Act, TransUnion is obligated to provide a credit score free of charge upon request to Quebec consumers. This service is only available to Quebec consumers at this time," TransUnion told CTV News Toronto in a statement.
"In line with TransUnion’s commitment to customers and consumers, we have been providing many of the rights outlined under the new legislation to all Canadian consumers for years, including explanatory notes and security alerts. In addition, all Canadian consumers continue to be able to access their Consumer Disclosure free of charge – to do so, please visit transunion.ca."
To get your free credit information through Equifax go to their home page and scroll down to get my free Equifax score and report online.
You'll have to answer some questions and realize that putting in your social insurance number is optional.
In less than ten minutes you'll have your credit score.
Credit scores are between 300 and 900.
A higher score means you're a good risk, while a lower score means you may have missed payments or have taken on too much credit would could be seen as problematic for lenders.
Some banks have recently allowed customers access to their credit scores and some websites have offered them for free with other services, but this is the first time the scores have been offered by Equifax for free to the public.
Credit Canada which provides credit counseling says if people can check their scores they can try to improve their financial situation.
"What you do not check does not get fixed, so if you can monitor your credit score and see it for free that is fantastic, because if there is a problem you'll know about it and you'll start taking steps to towards fixing whatever credit issues you have," Molina said.
Equifax says each lender uses different criteria to determine a credit score so numbers can differ.
If you see a mistake on your credit report you should take steps to correct it.
“There is a lot of information there to let you know that if something doesn't seem right on your file, contact us and we will open an investigation and work with you to figure out what's going on, Kuzmic said.
You should check your credit score at least once a year to see if your number is going up and not down.
Equifax said when a person checks their own credit information there is no impact on their score.