Why it’s important to check your credit history

Police allege four people stole about 100 pieces of identification, credit and debit cards and cheques during home and vehicle break-ins. File / Global News

CALGARY- You’ve likely already sorted through all those post-Christmas bills—question is, are all the charges yours?

Credit and debit card fraud goes up in January after the busy shopping season, so it’s important to check that someone didn’t steal your credit card number or identification.

Equifax Canada says only one in 10 Canadians check their credit report every year.

“A credit report is a compilation of all the data over the past seven years of credit history,” explains Tim Ashby with Equifax Canada. “It covers you name, your address, your past employment information and your entire credit history. All the credit instruments that you hold. Credit cards, loans, mortgages, car loans and also contains your payment history.”

You can order a copy of your credit report for free, and if there are any records of credit applications or missed payments that don’t belong to you, you can start an investigation.

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“The first step would be to put a fraud alert on your credit report to make sure that anybody who reviews your credit report understands that you’re concerned about fraudulent use of your information,” says Ashby. “You could also put a credit freeze to make sure no credit is granted in your name until you get this issue sorted out.”

Recently, hackers got credit and personal information from Target store computers. The company is now paying for 12 months of free credit monitoring through Equifax, for those who were affected.

Ashby says if you’re getting unsolicited calls from collection agencies or from retailers asking for more information on an unpaid bill or credit application and you’re not familiar with those cards, you need to investigate. The longer you take to notice problems the more it impacts your credit score and hurts your ability to borrow.

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