What is a FICO® Score?
The FICO® score, developed by Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc (the pioneer in credit scoring) is a number between 300 and 900 that lenders use to determine your credit risk. A FICO score, referred to as a Beacon Score, is a snapshot of your credit risk at a particular point in time. The higher your credit score the more likely you are to be approved for loans and receive favorable rates.
Most of Canada’s financial institutions use Beacon Scores to make millions of credit decisions each year.
What is used to calculate my score?
- Payment history – indicates whether you have made your credit card payments, loan payments and other payments on time
- Amounts owed – Compares how much you owe to your credit limits with various lenders. Credit Cards, Personal Loans and Lines of Credits that are ‘maxed’ out, reflect negatively on your Beacon Score.
- Length of time in file – Indicates how long you have had credit accounts
- New Credit – Shows how often you are looking for new credit and how you handle accounts you have recently opened. The more inquiries or times a creditor has looked at your bureau reflects negatively on your Beacon Score. Try to minimize the amount of times you seek out credit and allow different institutions to obtain your credit bureau.
- Type of Credit – Considers the type of loans you have – car loans, lines of credit, credit card balances
**Note: Any Mortgage information that may appear in your credit report is not used to calculate your credit score.
What can I do to improve my Credit Score?
Pay all of your bills on time. Paying late, or having your account sent to a collection agency has a negative impact on your credit score.
Try not to run your balances up to your credit limit. Keeping your account balances below 75% of your available credit may also help your score.
Avoid applying for credit unless you have a genuine need for a new account. Too many inquiries in a short period of time can sometimes be interpreted as a sign that you are opening numerous credit accounts due to financial difficulties, or overextending yourself by taking on more debt than you can actually repay.
Correct inaccurate information. Equifax encourages all consumers to request and review your credit report on a regular basis. By doing this, you can ensure that your report contains information that accurately reflects your credit history. You have the right to dispute any discrepancies by notifying the credit reporting agency.
How can I correct an inaccuracy in my Equifax credit report?
First you will need to complete a Consumer Credit Report Update Form. This form can be found at the following link, https://www.econsumer.equifax.ca/ca/view/investigation/investigation.jsp Once complete begin by contacting Equifax.
1. Telephone them at 1 800 465 7166 between 8am and 5pm EST.
2. Write to them at:
Equifax Canada Inc
Consumers Relations Department
Box 190 Jean Talon Station
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2
After they receive your call or letter request, they begin the Dispute Resolution process. First a review and consideration of the information you have sent them about your dispute is completed. If the initial review does not resolve the problem, they will continue the investigation. This involves contacting the submitter of the disputed information on your behalf to review the details. They will investigate and report their conclusion to Equifax. Based on the findings, they may make changes to your credit file. If the disputed information is correct, no changes will be made.
If changes are made a revised credit report with the results of the Dispute Resolution process will be sent to you. As well, they will also send your revised credit file to any company that requested your credit file 60 days prior to the change. In some cases it may be a period longer than 60 days.
To find out more about your personal credit score and review your credit bureau, please go to www.equifax.ca