Nothing Is Ever Easy

Last modified on October 7th, 2009

About three years ago, I walked onto a Mazda lot in Abbotsford and bought a new car. I only had about half of it in cash, so I was forced to finance the rest. During the application process, the guy looking at my credit said it had been quite a while since he saw someone with credit as good as mine.

Last night I decided (since I’m looking at maybe buying a house in the new year) to get a copy of my credit report and make sure everything was in order. There are two places you can get one online, the first being EquiFax, and the second being TransUnion. Neither service is free, and are about $20 each if you want your credit score included in your report. You’re also entitled to a free report if you’re willing to do it in person and wait a week or two for it to be mailed to you. But, given my lack of patience, I purchased one.

Unfortunately for me, in the three years since I last had any knowledge about the state of my report, it has since gone completely into the toilet. In fact, right now it’s showing that 80% of people have a better credit score than me. It’s actually a big surprise to me, since not only do I pay things on time, but I also recently paid off a pile of debt early.

Most of the report is pretty confusing, especially since a lot of the records go back more than five years. What’s strange to me is that there are no red flags on the report or anything. Every creditor reports that I’ve been paying on time and nobody reported me to collections or anything like that.

That being said, I noticed a $10,000 credit line called “BNS Revolving Credit” that I really had no idea what it was. After spending some time on the phone, it’s apparently a VISA I opened up with the Bank of Nova Scotia. I spent some time on the phone with them, and their records indicate that the VISA was actually shut down back in 2007. Unfortunately, my credit file still shows it as open. I went into the branch to try to sort it out, and of course, nobody has any idea how to fix it for me. They took a pile of photocopies and are going to call me back.

Prior to finishing school, I actually had a bunch of small student loans. As soon as I graduated, Royal Bank amalgamated them all into one large one — it’s the same loan I recently paid out. Strangely enough, that amalgamated loan doesn’t exist on my credit file. What does exist are all the smaller ones that it was made up of. And while most things that are closed in my credit report indicate “CLOSED”, most of these indicate “UNKNOWN”, which is apparently some weird state of credit purgatory. I called Royal Bank and they said I need to fax them my credit report along with a written letter indicating what I want changed. So apparently that’s what I have to do next.

There’s also a VISA on there from 1996 that still shows as open, even though I’m sure it’s closed. I’m currently on the phone with Royal Bank trying to find that as well.

The only other thing I can see is that I do have quite a bit of available credit, mostly because credit card companies keep raising my limit involuntarily. I called one VISA an hour ago and asked them to drop my credit limit $13k, and will call the other one in the morning and get them to drop that one by $10k as well. I actually started both of those VISAs with only a few thousand dollars on each.

Other than that, I really have no idea. Everything else looks like it’s in place. So, the moral of the story is that it’s a good idea to check your own credit report from time to time in the event that banks are completely useless and don’t do the proper thing when it’s required, which unfortunately seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

8 responses to “Nothing Is Ever Easy”

  1. Duncan says:

    Available credit does not effect your score. Length of time with lenders raises your score. Closing/cancellling credit cards actually lowers your score. Also, if you ever charge more than 50% of your available credit limit to a credit card in any given month, you lower your score by a couple of points even if you pay off the balance in full every month. If you’ve recently applied for credit of any sort, it also lowers your score. Ideally, 3 months prior to applying for a major loan such as a mortgage, don’t apply for any credit cards and don’t cancel any of them either(as stated earlier). Your Past revolving line of credit shouldn’t affect your credit score unless it shows a balance and or a monthly payment obligation? If that’s the case, the lender can update equifax and transunion with account status as closed. Finally, length of time in a job can impact your score and/or your job title(although this is more due to self disclosure and specific to each lender). Owning a home also raises tour fico score btw

  2. Duane Storey says:

    So I have no idea why mine’s poor then. Most of my credit cards are over three years old, as are all the loans I’ve recently paid off.

  3. Duncan says:

    You mentioned that the Royal Bank loans are listed as a series of smaller loans? If they’re not closed out and are registering as still having a balance, it could be the root cause. No need to panic though. With some administrative work, your score should go up within a couple of months. If your FICO score is over 650 you’ll have no problem getting a mortgage. They’ll just want the last two years of tax returns and a current pay stub or bank statement showing recent deposits.

  4. Duane Storey says:

    Well, I went with TransUnion, and they say it’s not a true FICO score.

    I just think it’s strange that there aren’t any real flags on here, so I have no idea why it wouldn’t be higher.

  5. Duncan says:

    Check with Equifax. They both have slightly different methods to calculate your fico score. Most lenders prefer Equifax over Transunion. Buy their beacon score report. It even explains What specific areas are effecting your score.

  6. sarah-renee says:

    one thing I’ve learned with credit is that the credit companies want to see that you are willing to pay interest. so paying things off in full and having nothing on a credit account actually damages your credit. Which is so silly but it makes sense because credit really has nothing to do with your ability to pay. They want you to not have the ability to pay immediately. Because if you can pay immediately then you’re not going to pay their interest. And it’s all about the creditors making money right?

  7. Jim says:

    I too have a BNS Revolving Credit left open for an Scotia Bank account that was closed over a year ago. Scotiabank even agrees that everything is closed. Trans Union says they’ll investigate, which will take at least a month. Any ideas how to fix this? Did it get resolved for you?

  8. Duane Storey says:

    The funny thing is that when I used Equifax, it didn’t show up at all. I’ve been told most people use Equifax, so I wouldn’t worry about it. The BNS thing didn’t seem to affect my credit rating at all.

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