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download (5)There are lots of websites that have sprung up in the past couple of years that offer free credit scores.

I recently assessed a client’s free score from one of these sites. There was hardly any useful information on it. The score was in the 200’s, so very low. This indicated that there were more than three bad listings on the file. But the free score only had a number “1” next to defaults, which didn’t make sense.

There was also nothing on the free score that said who placed the default. And all the other important information was missing too – like the amount of the listing, whether it was paid or not, and the date of the listing. I couldn’t advise the client on this basis. The information seemed all wrong.

So I told them we needed a copy of their Equifax (Veda) credit file and their Dun & Bradstreet credit file because they would give us the total picture. Unlike free credit scores, these credit files include all the information that a lender sees when they approve your loan, and all the information you need to work out how to fix your file.

As well, the information on the free credit score was wrong. The free credit score said the person had one default, but when we got the other credit files there was a total of four defaults!

Hint: Get a professional to assess your credit file for you
Understanding your credit file is essential for your financial health. A comprehensive credit file is not easy to understand. It is even harder to understand how your credit score is calculated from the information on your credit file. Our advice is to get a professional to explain your credit file to you step-by-step. The professional will access a copy of your credit file for you. They will identify the good and bad points on the credit file – what you are doing well, and what needs improvement.

A professional assessment will also include information about what credit you could apply for now with your current credit score, and what credit you may be approved for with an improved credit score. It will also include tips that you can follow to fix your credit file yourself, and information about credit repair services that can erase serious black marks like enquiry listings, defaults, court judgments, late payment markers and cross-linked files.

Hint: Let us assess your Equifax (Veda) and Dun & Bradstreet credit files. Free credit scores are hopeless when it comes to getting an accurate picture of what is on your credit file, so you can fix it. So, it’s best to avoid them completely.

If you have problems on your credit file, like overdue accounts (defaults), court actions, late payment markers, enquiry listings, cross-linked files you may need assistance to erase these.