EXPLAINER: Credit Checks

Leah Marlay & Mitchell Paquette, VPD

Did you know… By law, everyone is entitled to one FREE credit check per year.  Applying for a credit report is an important crime prevention action that each of us can take to help protect ourselves from identity theft and unwarranted credit hassles.

There are two Canadian credit bureaus, TransUnion and Equifax.  Check your credit history with both agencies.  There could be something present on one agency’s report that is not present on the other.  For some, you may want to step it up a notch and subscribe to a ‘for fee’ credit monitoring service.  Be careful on the websites to look for the FREE options.  See the links below for shortcuts.

When applying for your credit check, you have the option to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN) to increase the accuracy of the search.  Always be aware that you should protect your SIN and balance the benefits and cautions of providing it.

If you find anything on your report that doesn’t seem right, deal with it immediately as you may have been the victim of some form of identity theft.  Be aware that, it may not be glaringly obvious that this has happened.  Both Equifax and TransUnion provide resources to help identify a fraud or theft and how to deal with being a victim of identity theft. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre also has resources to help you deal with the aftermath.


If you do an annual check, consider requesting your report from one bureau, then wait six months before you order from the other bureau. By spacing out your requests, you may be able to detect problems sooner.

Both TransUnion and Equifax offer a variety of ways to check your credit history for free.

The process of checking your credit will take less than 15 minutes.  Don’t forget to put a repeat reminder in your calendar.

At the very least, this process is interesting to see what information is collected about you.  We hope you don’t find any surprises.


There are four options on this page:  Online, Mail, In Person & By Phone.  The Online version allows you to request a Consumer Disclosure for free every 30 days.    The Consumer Disclosure does not provide you your credit score.

TransUnion by Mail: TransUnion

Scroll down to near the bottom of the page under “Stay on top of your credit with Equifax” and then select the free online or mail option.

Equifax by Mail: Equifax

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