Equifax is one of three leading credit bureaus, along with TransUnion and Experian.

Like the other credit bureaus, Equifax uses a person’s borrowing information to compile a detailed credit report. Lenders use these credit reports in conjunction with a credit score to determine the financial risk involved with letting a person borrow money.

Equifax history

Equifax has been a leader in the financial world since its inception in 1898, when it began determining whether customers were worthy of a credit agreement.

Over time, it has expanded internationally, using data to help various businesses determine whether borrowers were likely to repay debts. In the 1970s and 1980s, customers were given the opportunity to view their own credit reports and be alerted to any errors found, giving additional transparency to the information contained in the reports.

Today, Equifax is headquartered in Atlanta and operates or has investments in 24 countries. It provides data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses across the globe.

Equifax reporting

Equifax credit reports are very detailed, showing each open and closed account belonging to an individual as well as whether payments were made on time.

If you’ve been past due on a credit card bill or a student loan, your Equifax credit report will show the exact month and year of that late payment.

However, late paid accounts don’t remain on the report forever. In most cases, negative information like a past due balance remains on the report for seven years, while positive accounts remain on the report for 10 years.

In addition to account information, the Equifax report shows any liens against your assets and debts that have been reported to collection agencies.

Equifax receives its information straight from creditors like mortgage companies, credit card companies and auto lenders. These companies usually report to all three major credit bureaus but not all do. In addition, your Equifax report may pull public records like any bankruptcies or tax liens to provide an accurate picture of your financial health.

Equifax credit scoring

While the credit report provides a detailed listing of your borrowing habits, the credit score is a three-digit number used to represent your creditworthiness. This number, which typically falls between 300 and 850, gives lenders a quick look at your risk and whether or not you can be expected to repay a loan on time.

Just as each credit bureau’s reporting may be slightly different, their corresponding credit scores also may differ.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

Passed in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates the way that Equifax and the other credit bureaus can use and report consumer behavior. This act attempts to alleviate the amount of misinformation or inaccurate reporting that might appear in an individual’s credit report.

If you notice an inaccuracy on your credit report, you can contact Equifax directly to have the information corrected.

Checking your Equifax credit report

A small error on your Equifax report could prevent you from getting approved for a loan, which is why it is important to monitor your information.

A free Equifax credit report is available every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com. If you also wish to view your Equifax credit score, you may have to pay a nominal fee.

Still, checking the credit report and the credit score can help you have a better idea of your creditworthiness.