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What is Equifax?

What is Equifax?

Equifax is one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies in North America. Along with TransUnion and Experian, Equifax collects credit data on hundreds of millions of individuals and businesses and provides that information in the form of credit reports and scores to lenders, creditors, and directly to consumers.


This comprehensive guide will provide an overview of Equifax, including its history, its role in the credit reporting industry, what is contained in an Equifax credit report, why your Equifax report and score are important, how Equifax compares to other bureaus, and how you can obtain, manage, and dispute information in your Equifax credit file.



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History of Equifax

Equifax was founded in 1899 in Atlanta, Georgia by Cator and Guy Woolford. Originally called Retail Credit Company, Equifax started out by providing credit reports to businesses to help them make lending decisions about consumers. The company gathered data on individuals from public records and by sending employees door-to-door to collect personal information. This model of compiling consumer credit data to sell as credit reports formed the foundation of the modern credit reporting industry.

In the 1960s, Retail Credit Company changed its name to Equifax to reflect its growing focus on compiling credit reports for financial institutions. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Equifax expanded internationally and acquired several other credit bureaus and data companies. This allowed Equifax to compile more comprehensive credit files on consumers and businesses.

Today, Equifax operates in over 24 countries globally and has one of the largest databases of consumer and commercial credit information. The company continues to provide credit reports and scores to lenders while also offering a range of additional services directly to consumers, businesses and governments.

 

What Equifax Does

Equifax is one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies in North America. Its primary business is collecting detailed credit data on both individual consumers and businesses. According to Equifax, the company maintains credit files on over 400 million consumers as well as over 88 million businesses worldwide.

Equifax obtains this consumer credit data from banks, credit unions, retailers, and lenders who report on the credit activity of their customers. This includes information on the types of accounts opened, credit limits, balances owed, and payment history. Equifax compiles this information from thousands of different reporting sources into comprehensive individual credit reports.

Equifax then provides these credit reports and proprietary credit scores to lenders and creditors. When a consumer applies for credit – such as a credit card, auto loan, or mortgage – lenders will check their Equifax credit report to help assess their creditworthiness and risk.

In addition to selling credit reports to lenders, Equifax also provides credit reports directly to consumers along with credit monitoring tools. Individual consumers can purchase their Equifax report to monitor their credit and check for any suspicious activity. Equifax offers monthly and annual credit monitoring subscriptions that alert consumers of key changes to their credit report.

 

Equifax Credit Report Contents

An Equifax credit report contains several key sections that provide a comprehensive overview of your credit history and financial reputation. These sections include:

 

Identifying Information

This includes your personal details like your name, current and previous addresses, SIN #, date of birth, and employment information. Accurate identifying information is crucial so you aren’t mixed up with someone else.

 

Credit Account Details

Your Equifax report lists all your open and closed credit accounts and key details about each one. This includes the type of account (credit card, auto loan, mortgage etc.), the date opened, credit limit or loan amount, current balance, and your payment history.

 

Public Records

Public record items that may appear include bankruptcies, foreclosures, tax liens, wage garnishments, or civil judgments. These remain on your report for a set period of time.

 

Credit Inquiries

When you apply for new credit, the lender checks your credit report and an inquiry is recorded. Your report shows credit inquiries from the past two years. Too many inquiries can negatively impact your credit.

 

Importance of Equifax Credit Report

Your Equifax credit report plays a critical role in your financial life. Here are some of the key reasons why it’s important:

Lenders and creditors routinely check Equifax credit reports when you apply for loans, credit cards, mortgages, or other types of credit. They use the detailed information in your credit report to evaluate your creditworthiness and determine whether to approve your application and what terms or interest rate to offer you.

A strong credit history and high credit scores like those calculated by Equifax can mean you qualify for better rates and terms. Weak or limited credit history may mean you don’t qualify or must pay higher interest rates. So your Equifax report directly impacts your ability to access credit and how much it may cost.

Monitoring your Equifax credit report allows you to catch any suspicious activity like accounts you didn’t open or inaccurate information that could indicate identity theft or fraud. Disputing errors on your Equifax report ensures you provide lenders with the most accurate picture of your credit history.

Checking your Equifax credit report regularly gives you important insight into where you stand with creditors. You can see how timely payments, credit utilization, and other credit behaviors are impacting your scores over time.

 

Equifax Credit Scores

Equifax provides consumers with a few different types of credit scores that lenders can access to help make lending decisions. The main scores are:

 

  • Equifax Beacon Score: This is the most commonly used Equifax credit score, with a range between 300-850. It predicts the likelihood of serious delinquency (90+ days late) in the next 24 months.
  • Equifax Credit Score: This educational score also ranges 300-850 and is provided directly to consumers through Equifax.
  • Equifax Small Business Scores: Specific scores tailored for evaluating business/commercial creditworthiness.

 

The different Equifax credit scores take into account the below types of information from your credit report:

 

  • Payment history – Do you pay your bills on time? Late payments can lower your score.
  • Credit utilization – What percentage of your total credit limits do you use? High utilization can hurt your score.
  • Credit history length – In general, a longer credit history with responsible use helps your score.
  • New credit applications – Too many new accounts at once can be seen negatively.
  • Credit mix – Having different types of credit (credit cards, loans, etc) is optimal.

 

By checking your Equifax credit score, you can monitor your financial reputation and creditworthiness. Take steps to improve a low score before applying for new credit.

 

Comparing Equifax to Other Bureaus

Equifax is one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies in the United States and Canada, along with TransUnion and Experian. While these three bureaus all serve a similar purpose in collecting consumer credit information, there are some key differences between Equifax and the other two bureaus that are important to understand.

One of the main differences is in the specific credit data that each bureau collects and reports. While there is substantial overlap, each credit bureau has unique data sources and may have slightly different information reported to them by lenders and creditors. For example, Equifax typically has a larger database of credit accounts and longer credit histories for consumers compared to TransUnion or Experian.

In addition, the various credit scoring models used by each bureau can result in scoring differences. Equifax uses the Equifax Credit Score model which ranges from 280-850. TransUnion uses the VantageScore 3.0 model (300-850 range). And Experian uses FICO Scores, specifically FICO 8, with a range of 300-850. So a person’s Equifax credit score may vary somewhat from their scores at TransUnion and Experian due to the differences in scoring models.

For the most complete picture of your credit standing, it’s a good idea to check reports and scores from all three major credit bureaus. While you may have excellent credit according to your Equifax report, you may find differences at TransUnion or Experian that are worth monitoring and addressing if needed. Checking your reports at all three bureaus allows you to ensure maximum accuracy and understand variances.

 

Obtaining Your Equifax Report

 

There are several ways to obtain your Equifax credit report, both for free and for a fee. Here are some of the main options:

Get Free Equifax Reports Online

You are entitled to a free copy of your Equifax credit report once every 12 months from each of the nationwide credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). The easiest way to obtain your free Equifax report is to visit AnnualCreditReport.com, the official site authorized by federal law.

You will need to provide your personal information like your name, Social Security Number, date of birth, and address in order to verify your identity and pull your Equifax report. You can choose to get your report from just Equifax or all three bureaus at once. Your free Equifax report will be immediately available to view and download.

 

Paid Equifax Reports

In addition to your free annual Equifax report, you can purchase additional Equifax reports directly from their website or through third-party credit monitoring services. Paid Equifax reports typically cost around $15-20 and allow you to view your full credit file including your credit score.

Paid reports can be accessed immediately online by providing payment details along with personal information. Equifax also offers three-bureau credit report packages so you can view your Experian and TransUnion reports at the same time.

 

Disputing Equifax Report Errors

If you find any inaccurate or incomplete information on your Equifax credit report, you have the right to dispute it. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit bureaus like Equifax to investigate disputed items. Here is how the online dispute process works with Equifax:

First, access your credit report through your Equifax account and identify any errors. Common mistakes include incorrect account status, late payments, collections, or personal information like current address. You can then initiate a dispute on Equifax’s website by providing details of the inaccuracy and your supporting documentation.

Acceptable documents may include bank statements, letters from creditors, proof of payments, court documents, or anything else validating your claim. Scan or photograph these materials so you can upload them when submitting your online dispute form.

Once Equifax receives your dispute, they are required by law to investigate it by contacting the creditor or source that supplied the disputed information. The creditor has 30 days to respond and verify the accuracy of their reporting. If they cannot, Equifax must remove the disputed item from your credit file.

Equifax will send you written notification confirming receipt of your dispute and the outcome of their investigation. If changes are made based on your dispute, you can request an updated copy of your credit report reflecting those corrections.

Persistence is key in getting credit report errors resolved, so continue disputing inaccurate information until Equifax fixes it. This ensures your credit history is reported fairly and accurately.

 

Other Equifax Services

In addition to providing credit reports and scores, Equifax offers various other services directly to consumers such as:

 

Credit Monitoring

Equifax offers credit monitoring services that actively track your credit report for any changes. This allows you to monitor your credit health on an ongoing basis and be alerted to any new credit inquiries, accounts opened, late payments, and other updates that could impact your credit score. Credit monitoring helps detect fraud or identity theft early.

 

Identity Theft Protection

Equifax identity theft protection services provide additional layers of security for your personal and financial information. This can include dark web monitoring to detect if your data is being sold illegally online, as well as tools to help restore your identity if you do become a victim of ID theft.

 

Mortgage Credit Certificate

The Equifax Mortgage Credit Certificate program allows eligible homebuyers to claim a federal tax credit. This can help offset your federal tax liability, allowing you to qualify more easily for a home loan and reduce your mortgage payments.

 

Equifax Data Breach

In September 2017, Equifax announced they had experienced a massive data breach impacting approximately 147 million Americans. This breach exposed highly sensitive personal information including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

The hackers were able to gain access by exploiting a vulnerability in an Equifax web application. They remained undetected in Equifax’s systems from mid-May through July. As a consumer credit reporting agency, Equifax stores vast amounts of consumer data making them an attractive target.

Once the breach was disclosed, there was massive public outcry and multiple state and federal investigations. Equifax was widely criticized for inadequate security practices and failing to notify consumers more promptly once the breach was discovered. Their response and remediation efforts were seen as inadequate.

Eventually Equifax agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 U.S. states and territories. The settlement required Equifax to pay at least $575 million with up to $700 million available for affected consumers. It also imposed new security standards and measures on the company.

Consumers impacted by the breach could file claims to receive free credit monitoring or cash payments up to $20,000 to compensate for losses or time spent dealing with breach fallout. Despite these measures, the Equifax breach eroded consumer trust and spotlighted the vast amount of sensitive data collected by credit bureaus.

 

Managing Your Equifax Report

There are several steps you can take to manage your Equifax credit report and help protect your credit:

 

Monitor Your Report Regularly

Check your Equifax credit report frequently for any suspicious activity or errors. You can obtain free weekly reports through Equifax or Credit Karma. Monitoring regularly helps catch issues early.

 

Improve Your Credit Score

Pay all bills on time, keep balances low, and limit credit inquiries to help boost your Equifax credit score. Higher scores can mean better loan terms and rates.

 

Dispute Any Inaccuracies

If you spot errors on your Equifax report, dispute them promptly online or by mail. Provide supporting documentation. This can improve your score.

 

Consider a Credit Freeze

Freezing your Equifax report restricts access to your credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open accounts. Lift freeze when applying for credit.

 

Enable Fraud Alerts

Fraud alerts require creditors to verify your identity before opening accounts, protecting against identity theft. Alerts last 1 year.

 

Protect Personal Information

Be cautious about sharing your Social Security Number and other personal details. Keep documents with sensitive data secure.

 

Conclusion

In summary, Equifax is one of the three major credit bureaus that collects credit information and provides credit reports and scores to lenders and consumers. Understanding what is included in your Equifax credit file and accessing your report regularly is key to managing your credit and financial reputation.

Your Equifax credit report contains detailed information about your identifying details, credit accounts, public records, inquiries and more. This information is used to calculate your credit scores which give lenders an idea of your creditworthiness and can impact the loans and credit you qualify for.

It’s important to check your Equifax credit report regularly for any errors or fraudulent activity, and dispute any inaccurate information promptly to ensure your credit history is reported correctly. Staying on top of your Equifax credit file allows you to catch issues early and build a strong credit profile over time.

While Equifax, TransUnion and Experian may have slight variations in the data they collect, checking reports from all three bureaus gives you the full picture of your credit standing. Monitoring and maintaining your Equifax credit is essential for achieving your financial goals.

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Questions About Equifax

Equifax Canada is a credit reporting agency that collects and maintains credit information on over 27 million Canadian consumers and 81,000 Canadian businesses. Equifax Canada is a subsidiary of Equifax Inc., one of the three major credit bureaus in North America along with TransUnion Canada and Experian Canada.

 

Equifax Canada gathers data from lenders, creditors, collection agencies, bankruptcy trustees, and other sources to build comprehensive consumer credit reports. These reports include information on an individual’s credit accounts, payment history, inquiries, bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and other details relevant to their financial profile.



Equifax Canada provides a wide range of credit information solutions including:

 

– Consumer credit reports and credit scores to help lenders assess credit risk

– Business credit reports to help other businesses evaluate B2B customers

– Identity verification and fraud prevention tools

– Marketing lists for targeting credit offers

– Analytics and decisioning technology platforms

 

Equifax empowers consumers and businesses to better understand credit and make informed lending decisions.



You can obtain a free copy of your Equifax Canada credit report through Canada’s two credit reporting agencies – Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. Every Canadian is entitled to one free credit report from each agency per year.

 

To get your free Equifax Canada credit report, you can request it online at www.consumer.equifax.ca or by mail using an order form. You’ll need to provide personal identifying information like your SIN, name, address, and date of birth to confirm your identity.

 

Checking your Equifax credit report periodically lets you monitor your credit status and quickly address any errors.

Your Equifax Canada credit report provides a detailed record of your credit history over the past 7-10 years. Key items on your Equifax credit report typically include:

 

– Personal information – Name, aliases, SIN, current and previous addresses

 

– Credit accounts – Details on open and closed loans and credit cards

 

– Account status – Payment history, current balances, credit limits, etc.

 

– Inquiries – Listing of companies that accessed your credit report

 

– Public records – Bankruptcies, judgments, tax liens, collections

 

– Personal statements – Any optional statements you add about your report

 

Reviewing your Equifax credit report helps you understand how lenders view your creditworthiness.

An Equifax Canada credit score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 900 that summarizes your credit risk level based on the information in your Equifax credit report.

 

Equifax Canada offers different credit score models including the Equifax Risk Score, which is the most commonly used score in Canadian lending decisions. Higher scores indicate lower credit risk.

 

Checking your Equifax Canada credit score regularly allows you to monitor changes over time. Keeping your score above 700 can help you qualify for better loan terms from lenders.



An Equifax Canada credit score is calculated based on the different items on your Equifax credit report, with key factors like your payment history and debts carrying the most weight.

 

Specifically, the Equifax Risk Score looks at:

 

– Payment history (35% of the score) – Late payments hurt your score the most

 

– Credit utilization (30%) – Higher balances relative to limits lower your score

 

– Credit age and mix (15%) – Longer, well-mixed credit history helps

 

– Inquiries and new credit (10%) – Too many new accounts or inquiries can lower your score

 

– Other factors (10%) – Includes personal details like bankruptcies and collections

 

Knowing what impacts your Equifax Canada credit score helps you work toward improving it over time.

To boost your Equifax Canada credit score, focus on these key areas:

 

– Pay all bills on time – Payment history is the biggest factor, so pay at least the minimums before due dates

 

– Lower credit card balances – High utilization rates negatively impact your score, so pay down balances

 

– Limit new credit applications – Too many new accounts and inquiries can lower your score

 

– Correct any errors in your credit report – Dispute and remove mistakes or outdated information

 

– Build credit history – Apply for new credit if needed to demonstrate responsible usage

 

Checking your Equifax Canada credit report and score provides the visibility to monitor changes over time. Healthier credit accounts and lower utilization is key for improvement.

Equifax Canada offers free credit alerts that monitor your Equifax credit report and can notify you by email whenever certain changes or suspicious activity occurs.

 

There are two main credit alerts offered:

 

  1. **Equifax CompleteTM alerts** – Get alerts on changes like new accounts, inquiries, address changes, and more

 

  1. **Equifax Credit File Alerts** – Get alerts whenever your credit report is requested by a lender or other business

 

Signing up for Equifax Canada credit alerts helps you monitor your credit report for free and spot potential identity theft. Alerts are sent to your email anytime defined changes or access occurs.

If you suspect you have been or may become a victim of identity theft, you can place a fraud alert on your Equifax Canada credit file by phone or online. This makes lenders aware of the potential fraud when they access your credit report.

 

To place a fraud alert with Equifax Canada:

 

  1. Contact Equifax Canada online or by phone (1-800-465-7166)

 

  1. Provide personal identifying details so Equifax can authenticate you

 

  1. Request initial 90-day fraud alert on your credit file

 

  1. Confirm the alert is added and lenders will contact you to verify applications

 

Placing an Equifax Canada fraud alert requires one call and helps prevent criminals from opening unauthorized accounts. Make sure to also check your credit report for any suspicious activity.



An Equifax Canada credit freeze restricts access to your Equifax credit report and prevents lenders or other companies from accessing it without your consent. This makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

 

To place a credit freeze on your Equifax Canada credit file:

 

  1. Submit a freeze request by phone, mail, or electronically

 

  1. Provide personal details like SIN and date of birth

 

  1. Pay the one-time freeze fee (or no fee in cases of identity theft)

 

  1. Receive a PIN to temporarily lift freeze when applying for credit

 

An Equifax Canada credit freeze provides maximum protection against fraudulent accounts and unauthorized access. You can lift it temporarily via PIN when pursuing new credit.



Equifax Canada’s E-Security ID Alerts provide free email notifications warning you whenever your personal information is found on suspicious websites, such as underground chat rooms or hidden corners of the internet associated with fraud or identity theft.

 

Sign up steps include:

 

– Enter name, email address, SIN

 

– Accept Terms of Service

 

– Verify email to activate alerts

 

Once activated, Equifax’s ID analysts proactively search for and alert you about any compromised credentials connected to your identity. Taking fast action if you receive an alert can help prevent identity theft.

If you find incorrect, outdated, or incomplete information on your Equifax Canada credit report, you have options to dispute these credit report errors for free and potentially improve your credit score:

 

– File dispute online at www.consumer.equifax.ca

 

– Download and mail dispute form with supporting documents

 

– Call Equifax Canada dispute line: 1-800-465-7166

 

– Provide complete details on what information is inaccurate plus proof

 

Equifax Canada must investigate within 30 days. If errors are verified, they must update or permanently remove disputed items. Having mistakes corrected leads to a more accurate credit profile.

Yes – Equifax Canada offers a free business credit report called the Business Comprehensive Report. It provides a summary of your company’s consumer relationships, commercial credit accounts, risk indicators, collections, judgments, industry comparisons, and other details relevant to your business credit profile.

 

To get your free Equifax Canada business credit report:

 

  1. Visit www.equifax.com/business

 

  1. Select sign up for your free business credit report

 

  1. Provide company information and create an account

 

Reviewing your Equifax business credit report periodically helps you monitor your company’s financial reputation and quickly address any reporting issues.



To help prevent identity theft and credit fraud, Equifax Canada offers identity protection solutions like:

 

– **Equifax CompleteTM Premier** – Includes Equifax credit monitoring, alerts, $1M identity theft insurance, and full identity restoration support

 

– **Equifax Credit File Alerts** – Get alerts whenever your Equifax credit report is accessed

 

– **Equifax Credit Report Lock** – Restrict access to your Equifax credit file to prevent unauthorized access

 

– **E-Security ID Alerts** – Alerts you if personal info appears on suspicious websites

 

Using a combination of credit monitoring, report locks, and dark web alerts from Equifax Canada provides robust identity protection for consumers.

Equifax Canada provides mortgage lenders several credit services that are key to the mortgage approval process:

 

– **Credit reports & scores** – Used to assess borrower risk and qualify applicants based on credit history

 

– **Income verification** – Confirms a borrower’s stated income using historical T4, tax, and payroll data

 

– **Property valuation** – Provides home appraisal solutions to validate property details and value

 

– **Fraud prevention tools** – Help lenders authenticate identities and prevent mortgage fraud

 

By leveraging Equifax Canada’s data and analytics, lenders can make faster, more informed mortgage decisions while preventing fraud and minimizing risk.



Most negative information remains on your Equifax Canada credit report for 6-7 years while positive history remains for longer. Here are typical timelines:

 

– Late payments – 6 years

– Collections – 6 years

– Bankruptcies – 7 years

– Consumer proposals – 7 years

– Judgments – 6 years

 

– Closed bank accounts – 10 years

– Inquiries – 3 years

– New credit applications – 10 years

 

Reviewing your Equifax Canada credit report helps you determine which old debts or records might soon fall off your history. This can influence credit improvement strategies.



As a consumer reporting agency, Equifax Canada is regulated federally by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). They must follow guidelines around consumer credit reporting and protecting personal privacy.

 

Key regulations include:

 

– Securely collecting/reporting consumer credit data

 

– Ensuring credit reporting accuracy

 

– Investigating consumer disputes in a timely manner

 

– Restricting credit report access only to those with permissible purposes

 

– Obtaining consumer consent before disclosing personal information

 

PIPEDA oversight and governance helps ensure Equifax Canada operates fairly and protects consumer data rights.

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