Everything you need to know about Equifax
Credit scores can sound scary and complex to the average consumer. However it is important to know about your credit report affects your credit score and how your credit score impacts your ability to obtain a loan or credit card. It also impacts the amount of credit a lender will loan you and what type of interest rate they are willing to offer.
Did you know there are two main companies in Canada that are responsible for compiling data on your credit history to build a complete financial picture for lenders to see? Equifax and TransUnion help lenders to determine how risky it would be for them to lend to each individual consumer.
Check out our guide on Equifax to find out more about them as a company, how they collect information to establish a credit report and ultimately determine your credit score, and what steps you can take to make sure your credit report is correct and up to date.
What is Equifax?
Equifax is a credit bureau. It tracks the credit history of borrowers, such as consumers, to create a credit report of credit history along with a credit score. Known as one of the “Big Two” along with TransUnion, Equifax collects data to produce a credit history for every individual so that financial institutions can look at these reports to determine the risk factor involved and whether to extend credit such as a mortgage or a credit card to a consumer.
What is the difference between a credit score and a credit report?
A credit report is a compilation of your credit activity and recent credit situation. The credit report will show things like your loan payment history and the status of your credit accounts. All of these items will be added together to create a credit score. If you miss a loan payment or have a high balance on a credit card, these are factors on your credit report that could negatively impact your credit score and therefore make it difficult to obtain a line of credit.
What is in my credit report?
Your credit report contains many personal identifiers. You will find your current address as well as any past addresses you have lived at. It will also contain your social insurance number, date of birth, and employment information. The bulk of your report will contain your credit account history, credit inquiries, and public records. Lenders will report on your credit activity each month to the credit bureaus. Each time you make an inquiry of a new loan or line of credit, that will also be reported to Equifax and added to your credit report. Mortgage defaults or bankruptcies would be reported to the credit bureaus and seen under public records.
On your credit report, you will likely see a variety of numbers and letters similar to the table below:
|I||Installment creditYou borrow money for a specific period of time. You make regular payments in fixed amounts until you pay off the loan.||Car loan||0||Too new to rateApproved, but not yet used|
|O||Open status creditYou may borrow money when you need to, up to a certain limit.||Mobile phone account||1||Paid within 30 days of billingPays as agreed|
|R||Revolving or recurring creditYou may borrow money up to your credit limit on an ongoing basis. You make regular payments in varying amounts depending on the balance of your account.||Credit card||2||Late payment: 31 to 59 days late|
|M||Mortgage loanMortgage information may be included on your credit report.||Mortgage||3||Late payment: 60 to 89 days late|
|4||Late payment: 90 to 119 days late|
|5||Late payment: more than 120 days late, but not yet rated “9”|
|6||This code isn’t used|
|7||Making regular payments using one of the following debt management options:a consolidation orderorderly payment of debtsconsumer proposaldebt management program with a credit counselling agency|
|9||Written off as a “bad debt”Sent to collection agencyBankruptcy|
Using that table as example:
- If you have a credit card account that you paid on time, it’ll be reported as “R1”.
- If you have a line of credit, and you missed a payment by 45 days, it’ll be reported as “O2”.
- If you have credit card debt and you’re being contacted by a collection agency for payment, it’ll be reported as “R9”.
The best rating is 1. Any number higher than 1 will likely hurt your credit score.
How are Equifax’s credit scored calculated?
Understanding a credit score or how it is calculated can be very confusing for many Canadians; however most people know a good credit score opens up more financial possibilities and sometimes even perks like significantly lower interest rates or higher credit limits.
In the most basic of terms, your credit score tells lenders how risky it would be to loan you money or give you a line of credit. The scores typically range from 300 and 900, with higher scores indicating better credit than lower scores.
To calculate your score, the positive and negative information in your credit report is broken down into five scoring categories. Equifax uses a credit score model to determine your score.
Here is an example of how Equifax calculates your credit score:
- Payment history: ~35%
- Any time you make a payment on time, that helps improve your score. If you are missing payments or have mostly late payments, that will harm your score.
- Used Credit versus Available Credit: ~30%
- Your credit ratio will also impact your score. If you have high balances on lines of credit, this will negatively impact your overall credit score.
- Credit history: ~15%
- This portion of your credit file details how long your credit accounts have been in existence and will take into consideration newly opened accounts and accounts that have been open a long time. In general, creditors like to see that you have been able to properly handle credit accounts over a period of time.
- Public Records: ~10%
- If you have a bankruptcy, collection accounts, or any other derogatory public records, those will all have a significantly negative impact on your credit score.
- Inquiries: ~10%
- If you apply for a new loan or credit card, the lender will access a copy of your credit report before extending credit. This is referred to as a “hard inquiry”. A number of recent inquiries along with other warning factors can also negatively impact your credit score.
Keep in mind that a credit score is not set in stone and factors like paying down high balances or improving payment history can drastically help increase your credit score. On the other hand, accruing a lot of debt or missing payments can negatively impact a once high credit score.
Can I dispute my credit score?
There are many different scoring models within your credit report that determine your credit score. Unfortunately, because of this you cannot dispute your credit score. But you can dispute items on your credit report. If you notice an item on your credit report that appears to be inaccurate, chances are it is negatively impacting your credit score. You are able to file a free dispute with Equifax by submitting a Consumer Credit Report Update Form and mailing it to:
Equifax Canada Co.
Consumer Relations Department
Box 190 Jean Talon Station
Once you submit your dispute, Equifax will open an investigation into the potential inaccuracy. They will contact the creditor in question for verification. Once this process is complete, they will either change or delete the information in your credit report if it is deemed inaccurate. If the creditor verifies that the items are accurate, no changes will be made to your credit report.
Regardless of the outcome, Equifax Canada will send you a detailed summary of their investigation.
How do I get a copy of my credit report?
You may request a free copy of your Equifax Canada credit report through one of the following options:
- To obtain your free credit report online with Equifax, you can do so by visiting their online portal.
- You can order a free credit report directly from Equifax Canada by calling 800-465-7166.
- To order your free credit report directly from Equifax Canada by mail, you can download and complete this Canadian Credit Report Request Form and mail it along with photocopies of the required identification to:
Equifax Canada Co.
National Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 190
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2
- You can also obtain your free credit report by visiting one of the three locations below:
Toronto Office Location:
5700 Yonge Street, Concourse Level (near bottom of escalators)
Toronto, ON M2M 4K2
Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm ET
Halifax Office Location:
1718 Argyle Street, Suite 720
Halifax, NS B3J 3N6
Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 9 am-4:30 pm AT
Charlottetown Office Location:
155 Belvedere Avenue, Suite 200
Charlottetown, PE C1A 8B9
Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm AT
Remember to bring at least two pieces of valid government-issued identification, including one piece of photo identification, and proof of current address. Photocopies and electronic documents are not accepted.
How do I file a dispute with Equifax?
In the event you need to file a dispute with Equifax, there are a few steps you will need to take. You can receive the form by email, complete it electronically and email all of your documentation to Equifax. You can also print and mail in your completed dispute form and include copies of the required documents.
Some examples of documentation you can send in are:
- Proof of Identity (government issued ID, birth certificate)
- Account Information (letter from creditors supporting your dispute, bank statements, bankruptcy discharge paperwork)
When filing a dispute, it is helpful to include the Equifax Unique Number provided on your Equifax credit report.
Once your dispute request is received, Equifax will begin an investigation of your dispute. Equifax will process your dispute in approximately 10-15 days for electronic submission and 15-20 days for postal mail.
Once their investigation is complete, they will notify you of the results and outcome.
If you submitted your dispute electronically, they will notify you by email. If you mailed in your completed form and documents, they will mail you a letter.
How can I cancel my Equifax account?
If you need to cancel your Equifax account, you will need to call the Customer Care team to cancel your product. You can reach them at 866-820-8911.
They are available to assist you from 8:00am-12:00am ET, 7 days a week.
How can I contact Equifax?
If you need to contact Equifax in Canada for general inquiries, you can do so by calling 1-800-871-3250. A representative will be available to help you Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm ET.
If you need to send mail to Equifax, their mailing address is:
Equifax Canada Co.
National Consumer Relations
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2
Equifax vs Transunion
Equifax and TransUnion provide essentially the same service in regards to credit reporting. However, if you were to pull up a report from both Equifax and TransUnion, you may be surprised to see there may be a difference in your credit score even if your credit reports appear the same.
Equifax uses a credit scoring model as does TransUnion but they may differ slightly in how each model weighs factors.
It may also be that different credit bureaus do not have all or up-to-date personal and credit history. Some lenders report more information to Equifax versus TransUnion or one bureau may be more delayed in receiving and reporting your credit information.
No credit score from any one of the credit bureaus is more valuable or more accurate than another. It does not necessarily mean that one score is better than the other.