What is an Equifax credit report?

Equifax® is one of the three major credit bureaus. These credit bureaus all collect information on your financial habits and use that information to compile and sell credit reports. These reports are then used to calculate credit scores and help companies determine your creditworthiness—or how likely you are to repay your debts on time. 

By checking your Equifax credit report, you can learn more about what creditors or lenders may see when you apply for credit. This way, you can be more prepared when making financial decisions.

Read on to learn more about what an Equifax credit report is and how to use this information.

Key takeaways

  • Equifax is a credit bureau that collects information about an individual’s credit history to create a credit report.
  • The five main components of an Equifax credit report are personal information, credit accounts, inquiry information, bankruptcies and collections accounts.
  • You can get a free copy of your Equifax credit report to review and understand what creditors and lenders are seeing when you apply to borrow money.

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Equifax, Experian and TransUnion: What’s the difference?

Equifax, Experian® and TransUnion® are the three major credit bureaus—sometimes referred to as credit reporting agencies or consumer reporting agencies. Each of the credit bureaus collects information differently, and creditors and lenders might not report information to each credit bureau. This is why the data shared on a credit report can differ depending on the bureau. It also explains why credit scores can vary from bureau to bureau.

What’s in an Equifax credit report?

An Equifax credit report contains information about an individual’s financial history and has five main types of information:

1. Personal information

This section includes identifying information like your full name, address, birthday and Social Security number. It may also show prior addresses, maiden names or any other names you’ve previously used.

2. Credit accounts

Creditors and lenders report information about your current and past accounts to Equifax, which is reflected in this section. Credit account information found in an Equifax credit report may include the following:

  • Open accounts
  • Closed accounts—including accounts that have been paid off
  • Type of credit account, like revolving credit, installment loan or mortgage
  • Age of the account and when it was opened
  • Credit limits on accounts, if applicable
  • Total loan amount
  • Payment history
  • Current balances on credit accounts

3. Credit inquiries

This section shows who has looked at your credit report—known as a credit inquiry or credit check. When a credit report is checked, it’s considered either a hard or soft inquiry

Soft credit inquiries don’t affect credit scores. And even though they don’t affect your scores, they’ll appear on your Equifax credit report for up to two years. Examples of soft credit inquiries include checking your own credit report or receiving a pre-approval offer from a credit card company.

Hard inquiries happen when a lender or an individual accesses an individual’s credit report because they applied for credit or a service like phone, cable or internet. A hard inquiry can impact your credit scores and, like a soft inquiry, stay on your Equifax credit report for up to two years. 

4. Bankruptcies

This section includes any bankruptcy public record information. It can also include other details related to a bankruptcy, like the type and the filing date. 

5. Collections accounts

Outstanding debt can be sent to a collection agency if a balance isn’t paid within a certain period of time. This information is then reported to Equifax and indicated on a credit report. This section can include past-due account information from the likes of the following:

  • Medical institutions
  • Banks
  • Retail stores
  • Cable companies
  • Mobile phone companies

How your Equifax credit report can help you

Whether you’re applying for a mortgage or auto loan or taking out a personal loan, lenders may review your Equifax credit report. By having access to this information yourself, you can provide more insight into what potential creditors or lenders are seeing when you apply for a line of credit. 

Reviewing your credit file also gives you the opportunity to see where you stand financially and better understand your credit position. This way, you can be more prepared when making money-related decisions and setting financial goals. If your credit reports or scores are less than ideal, you can also consider how to improve your credit

Also, reviewing your Equifax credit report can give you the opportunity to check for any errors or fraud. From there, you can submit a dispute to make sure all of the information on your report is accurate.

How to get a free Equifax credit report

You can get free copies of your credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.

Who can see your Equifax credit report?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was enacted in 1970 to protect consumer credit files. This means the accuracy, fairness and privacy of how credit information is used and accessed is protected by law. 

The FCRA allows certain parties that have “permissible purpose” to access your credit report. Some of the most common reasons why someone may look at your credit report are related to credit, employment and insurance. 

How to freeze and unfreeze your Equifax credit report

A credit freeze—or security freeze—gives you the ability to restrict access to your credit information. This process is federally regulated and lets you freeze and unfreeze your credit report—permanently or temporarily.

To freeze an Equifax credit report, you’ll have to first create a username and password through myEquifax. From there, you can implement a security freeze. You can also temporarily or permanently lift a security freeze.

There are certain reasons why you may want to restrict access to your Equifax credit report. It can, for example, provide more protection from identity theft or an unauthorized user accessing your account. Then, when you’re applying for credit, you can grant access to your credit file by unfreezing your Equifax account. 

Equifax also offers Lock & Alert™—a free service that gives you more control over who has access to your credit file. It works similarly to a security freeze. And once you sign up, you can lock and unlock your Equifax credit report online or on the mobile app. 

Both freezing and unfreezing and locking and unlocking your credit report are free services. But you’ll have to contact the credit bureaus separately to freeze each of your individual credit reports. 

How to dispute an error on an Equifax credit report

If you notice any errors or incomplete information on your credit report, you can file a dispute for free with Equifax. Typically, you can expect results within 30 days after submitting the dispute.

FAQs about Equifax credit reports

Here are a few answers to some commonly asked questions about Equifax credit scores. 

How long does information stay on an Equifax credit report?

The amount of time something stays on a credit report depends on the type of information it is. For example, information that’s considered positive—like consistent, on-time payments—will continue to stay on a report for as long as the account is open. And an account closed in good standing may remain on your report for up to 10 years.

On the other hand, some types of negative information—like a charge-off or a late payment—typically stay on a credit report for seven years. 

What’s a good Equifax score?

Equifax isn’t a credit-scoring company like VantageScore® or FICO®. But according to Equifax, here are the typical ranges for credit scores:

Credit score ranges according to Equifax.

How can I improve my credit scores?

Here are some of the basic ways to improve your credit scores:

For more information, check out this comprehensive guide on how to improve your credit scores.

In a nutshell: Equifax credit reports

You can review your credit reports from each of the three bureaus—including Equifax. Checking and monitoring your credit regularly can give you a better understanding of your financial standing. Plus, you can make sure all of your information is up to date and accurate. 

Another way to monitor your credit is with CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise helps you discover key factors that impact your VantageScore 3.0 credit score. And it can also give you alerts from two of the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion and Experian, when there are important changes to your credit reports.

CreditWise is free and available to everyone—even if you’re not a Capital One account holder.

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