So, how’s your credit rating these days? Most of us don’t have a clue. But it pays to check your credit report each year. The reason? Those looking for a mortgage who have a lower credit rating can find themselves paying a higher interest rate, or even denied access to certain types of loans.

One item to note when obtaining your report is that there are two types of credit reports that can be requested; with or without your credit score (FICO score). It recommended that you order the version with the FICO score as this number plays a major role in the credit granting decision and can help you to determine if further steps need to be taken to improve your credit.

You can have a peek at your credit report for free. Contact Equifax at or 1-800-465-7166 and Trans Union at or 1-800-663-9980. These free reports will not contain a credit score however it’s a good idea to get both reports. You can order more comprehensive reports including your credit score from these companies, for a fee.

Once you have a copy of your credit report there are a few things that should be checked.

  • mailing address
  • incorrect social insurance number
  • signs of identity theft
  • errors in your credit accounts
  • late payments
  • unauthorized hard inquiries

Now you can add a SAFE SCAN warning to aid in the protection from unauthorized credit inquiries.

The hard inquiries, done when you apply for new credit, can affect your credit score while soft inquiries, done by your existing creditors, requesting an update of your information, do not affect your score.

What is a Beacon (FICO) Score:

Your beacon (FICO) score is a predictive credit worthiness score. It forecasts the credit behavior of an individual for 2 years and ranges from 300 to 900.The higher the score the better it is for you.

For unsecured credit, lenders typically look for a score above 650. For mortgage lending, a credit score below 620 may subject your application to tighter scrutiny or higher interest rates and/or fees.

How long do items report on my credit report:

Inquiries remain on your report for three years after the date of inquiry. Your credit information remains for seven years from the activity date.

Consumer proposals will remain on the credit bureau for 7 years after the payout of the final payment within the agreement. Bankruptcies will be removed 7 years after discharged. Most lenders will allow an ex-bankrupt to purchase with as little as 5% down 2 years after the date of discharge and 1 year of re-established credit.

One can see how credit abuse can impede your ability to obtain credit in the future

What about credit repair:

  • Never pay for these services
  • Only responsible credit practices over time can improve poor credit history.
  • Ensure timely payments with pre-authorized withdrawals
  • Re-establish credit as soon as possible after being discharged from bankruptcy

If necessary obtain secured credit in order to re-establish credit, with either a secured credit card loan or secured line of credit.

The good news is that by taking a few basic precautions, prospective borrowers can protect their credit, and increase their access to better rates and a greater choice of mortgage products.

How do I keep my credit rating healthy:

  • Pay your debts on time – always meet due dates.
  • Borrow only the amount you can afford to repay.
  • Keep in mind that numerous inquiries for your credit report in a short period of time can worsen your score. A mortgage advisor will access your credit report and credit score just once before submitting any mortgage applications to lenders.

For those with credit issues, talk to a mortgage advisor, who can coach you on the ins and outs of improving your credit score over time – as your good credit history is established, in due course your borrowing options will increase.

If you wish to get a mortgage while you work on bettering your score, a mortgage advisor can also discuss how to get a mortgage despite weak credit.