Your credit score is crucial.
It's calculated from your information prepared by credit bureaus. It indicates how likely you are to make payments or default.
A lender will use your score to approve your loans. Your landlord may also want to see it when screening your profile.
Not surprisingly, there is a strong need for Canadians to know their score.
Many financial advisors, websites, mobile apps and social media influencers claim there are ways to access it for free.
While it can be true for our neighbours down South, that is probably NOT 100% the case for Canadians.
First of all, 90% of lenders use the Beacon score (also known as FICO score). It was originally created by an American company FICO.
In Canada, TransUnion and Equifax are two major credit bureaus. They have their own versions of the FICO score. It's called CreditVision Risk Score by TransUnion. Equifax has ERS 2.0.
These "alternative" scores could be higher or lower than the FICO score. This is because the two credit bureaus are employing their own scoring formulas based on different (possibly similar) information of you.
But NEITHER of TransUnion or Equifax offers the actual FICO score to Canadian consumers.
I (Lechi) personally made calls and tried to get my score from them. They both declined.
Secondly, websites/mobile apps like Borrowell and Credit Karma are becoming increasingly popular. However, they purchase the scores directly from Equifax and TransUnion respectively. Not from FICO. So they can't address the issue.
To find out your FICO score, you probably need to have someone run a credit check on you. It's also known as a "hard pull" or "hard inquiry".
That said, most loan brokers and lenders are prohibited from sharing a copy of the hard pull report with the consumer. Additionally, it could negatively affect your score.
As a result, the hard truth is it's almost impossible for Canadians to see the ACTUAL score that matches the one their lenders see.
The goods news is that regardless of which score is used, Canadians will take the same steps to improve credit score.
Paying your mortgage on time, maintaining low credit card balances, and keeping older accounts open all help.
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