Having worked many years with credit reports, I cannot stress more about how much personal data is collected in a credit report. Recently credit bureaus in U.S. have been making a lot of headlines because hackers have somehow obtained copies of credit reports of people like professional golfer Tiger Woods, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian and more.
The financial data of these people have allegedly been obtained via AnnualCreditReport.com. This website was launched in 2003 as part of legislation in the U.S. that required the credit agencies to provide a free annual credit report to the over 200 million consumers they keep data on.
As consumers, we are told to be careful where we share our personal and financial data. But what happens in a case where the information that is collected about you gets hacked? As Canadians, we are no less prone to having our financial data compromised. Not because we were not careful with our data, but because large companies which collect our data were no match for hackers.
All Canadians who have credit cards, mortgages, student loans or any type of credit will have a credit record and record. This information is updated on a regular basis and contains a large amount of information on our spending habits, debts and payment schedules. Fraudsters who have access to such information can pretty much assume a person’s identity without them noticing. Credit reports are used daily by financial institutions to make decisions on loans.
Fortunately, each province in Canada has rules and regulations on information that is captured. Rules where financial data must be safe guarded and credit reports must be accessed by authorized people. However we all know that this doesn’t stop criminals from trying to gain access to this information. Credit reports outline by these rules must be accurate. So if there are any mistakes, it is up to the credit bureau to follow up and make the necessary changes.
Here’s the catch. Credit bureaus will not be aware of mistakes unless they are informed. That is why it is so important for Canadians to check their credit reports at least once a year. If you have been a victim of fraud or are worried about your financial data, credit reporting agencies have monitoring services that can help identify fraud as it happens.
Have you checked your credit report lately? There are so many sites that offer you the ability to check you credit report and scores. However, be careful where you go. Most of the sites cater or our American counterparts. Some of the sites have been created to fraudulently capture your private information. To be safe, I have listed 3 simple ways to get your OFFICIAL credit report and credit scores.