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A woman reading receipts and holding a credit card. (George Doyle/Getty Images/George Doyle/Getty Images)
A woman reading receipts and holding a credit card. (George Doyle/Getty Images/George Doyle/Getty Images)

SMART COOKIES

It's time to check your credit report Add to ...

Shawna Little recently received a call from a collection agency informing her she owed money to Telus. Ms. Little, the director of sales for an online company in Vancouver, thought she shut down this account in 2007. After digging, she realized the account wasn’t closed properly and when the company moved to a new system she was billed again. After the issue was resolved, Ms. Little was advised to flag the credit reporting bureaus of the incident.

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“When I called the agencies, I was shocked at how out of date my information on file was,” she says. She discovered a credit card listed as open that was closed years ago, an employer listed as current from a decade ago, and the wrong address listed on both credit reports.

She’s since requested her credit reports from both TransUnion and Equifax and says she plans to go through them both with a fine-tooth comb. Ms. Little says she thinks it will take a couple months to get her information sorted out, and due to this discovery she’ll be checking her report once a year.

You can order your credit report and credit score online, from Equifax and TransUnion, for $20 to $30. However, if you just want to review your history then you can order a credit report for free by phone, mail, or fax. Visiting each site will tell you how to apply for your free report. When you receive your report, you will also receive the necessary forms to correct any inaccurate information you discover.

Now is the time to check our credit reports, not after finding our dream home and realizing we don’t qualify for the best mortgage due to out-of-date information and a low credit score. Updated information and a high score today, leaves us open for more advantageous opportunities tomorrow.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

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