When it Comes to Credit Monitoring, 2 is Always Better Than 1

25 September 2015

If you, like 21 million other Canadians, have ever applied for a line of credit, taken out a mortgage or attempted to borrow in order to buy a car, you have a credit file with your name on it. What you and those millions of others may not know, however, is that in addition to housing information about every loan you’ve taken out in the last six years, your credit report can serve as a tool for detecting one of the most popular forms of identity theft: credit card fraud.

By regularly checking the contents of your credit report, you can keep an eye out for inaccurate activity that could indicate the work of a criminal who took advantage of your personal identification information to purchase goods or services. Not only will reviewing your credit report allow you to quickly take corrective action against the perpetrator, but ensuring your file is free of other errors is essential, as creditors, insurance companies, landlords and employers often make decisions about you based on the information in your credit report.

In Canada, there are two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, that store separate versions of your credit history. If you plan to review your credit file, it is crucial that you request reports from both bureaus, rather than from just a single company. Not all credit bureaus contain the same information, so an error may exist on one report even if you don’t see it on the other. Not only will checking both files help you stay on top of any unusual activity, but because lenders may pull information from either bureau, it is smart to know exactly what they will find no matter which file they request.

One reason your Equifax and TransUnion files could vary is because reporting is expensive and completely voluntary. Sometimes, small banks and credit unions don’t report to both credit bureaus in order to save money. In addition, if just one of your accounts is being targeted by fraudsters, you may miss it if you only check one report. Another reason your reports could differ is simply because each bureau has its own style of reporting. By keeping an eye on both, you can benefit from the unique details each provides.

One of the more obvious reasons to regularly review your credit information on file with both bureaus is to simply catch mistakes. It’s easier to spot incorrect information resulting from either a computer error or a fraudulent action if you are comparing a pair of reports than simply looking over one.

If you spot any discrepancies, you should use the dispute form as instructed by the credit agency. The agency is required by law to respond within 30 days. A credit monitoring service can keep a second pair of eyes on your credit files and can help you through the investigation and recovery process if you find discrepancies in your credit files.