Credit errors can carry heavy consequences. Whether from a mistake on the part of a credit bureau like TransUnion or Equifax, a lender, or the result of identity theft, erroneous entries on one’s credit report can end up costing you a lot of money over time, and can dramatically impact your chances of being approved for credit cards, loans, and other crucial financial tools. Thankfully, it is a simple matter to file a credit dispute and set the record straight.
How Do Credit Errors Affect You?
Credit report errors are disturbingly common. They might take the form of numerical errors indicating that you owe more than you should, outdated information, an identity mix-up, or a delinquency that the bureau failed to report as remedied. Even small errors can increase the amount of interest on the loans one is eligible for. It’s not unheard of to be charged double the regular rate on a new line of credit just because of a single error on your report.
Considering the impact that it can have on your financial prospects, it is very important to be vigilant when it comes to your credit report. Check it often to ensure that all the appropriate entries are there, but also to spot anything that appears suspicious.
Correct Credit Errors: Steps for Filing an Equifax Dispute
Equifax is one of two major Canadian credit bureaus, alongside TransUnion. These companies track the financial habits of Canadian individuals to determine the responsibility with which they handle their debts. But despite the bureaus’ comprehensive research and reporting systems, they can often be wrong. Fortunately these institutions make it easy for a person to obtain a copy of their credit report, and doing so is recommended at least once a year.
The steps for filing an Equifax dispute are simple, should an individual identify an error (or errors!) on their report.
- To file a dispute, fill out a document called the Consumer Credit Report Update Form, which can be found here.
- Gather photocopies of ID for verification, as well as all related documents to problematic entries.
- Fax or mail the documents to Equifax. You’ll need to print or scan a copy of the erroneous Equifax report and make note of the entries that are wrong. The process takes 10 to 15 business days, after which time you’ll receive a confirmation letter in the mail.
- The result will always be an updated copy of the credit report, and if it is unchanged, this means the relevant entries were not deemed as errors.
That’s it! Now onto the steps needed to dispute an error on a report issued by Canada’s other major credit bureau, TransUnion.
Correct Credit Errors: Steps for Filing a TransUnion Dispute
For TransUnion, the dispute process is similar to that of Equifax. They will thoroughly investigate any entries that a customer deems erroneous, and work hard to determine their veracity.
- TransUnion customers offer several methods to dispute credit errors. Start by gathering your relevant identification documents such as your social insurance number, date of birth, address, and details of each disputed entry (company name, reason for dispute, etc.) The full list of documentation can be found here.
- English speakers can call 1-800-663-9980, while French speakers should use the number 1-877-713-3393 or 514-335-0374 if they live in Montreal. A TransUnion representative will walk you through the process and will contact you for the final resolution over the phone as well.
- It’s also possible to dispute errors via email or regular mail. The same details are needed, but one will use this form (for English) or this one (for French).
- In these cases, TransUnion will be in contact via the email you used to send the form. For regular mail, they will return the corrected (or uncorrected) credit report to your mailbox.
How to Rebuild Your Credit
If you’ve corrected errors on your report and still feel that your credit score has room for improvement, there are a few ways to improve your score. We recommend the use of secured credit cards, which approve virtually all applicants regardless of their credit scores. Cards like the Home Trust Secured Visa frequently report a cardholder’s debt repayment progress to bureaus like TransUnion. Just make a small deposit, then charge a few bills to the card each month. Repaying these bills on time can result in relatively quick credit score improvement.