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How To Read Your Equifax Credit Report

How To Check Your Credit Report

How To Read Your Credit Report

Have you ever wondered how a bank or other lender decides whether to give you credit? One of the tools they use is your credit report. This tells them about your credit history and helps them assess how much of a risk lending to you will be, depending on the quality of your credit score.

Whats in this guide

How To Read A Credit Report And Understand Your Credit Score

Sarita Harbour

When you’re new to managing your own money, learning how to read a credit report and understanding your credit score can seem like learning a foreign language. Don’t let that stop you from diving in the more you grasp early on, the better equipped you’ll be to make the right credit and borrowing choices for a strong financial future.

So, let’s start with the basics. Here are answers to some common credit questions you might have.

How To Read A Credit Report


Please keep in mind that this article is meant to be a quick overview of this topic. Should you have any more complex questions, we highly recommend that you check out the Financial Consumer Agency of Canadas article on credit reports here.

Your credit report represents you as a consumer and a borrower, it illustrations how you use credit products, whether you use then appropriately or irresponsibly. Every Canadian who uses credit has a credit report, these reports are compiled by credit reporting agencies and include all pertinent information that has to do with your credit history.

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Supporting Materials Needed To File A Dispute

Some items which could prove the disputed item is incorrect are:

  • A copy of your showing your name and current address
  • A copy of your Social Security card or pay stub/tax form displaying your correct number
  • If theres an address error, a copy of a document containing your correct address, such as a lease, utility bill, or mortgage statement
  • Proof of the incorrect reporting, such as a copy of a canceled check, a payment confirmation, bankruptcy schedule, a letter confirming the account was deferred or in forbearance, or a police report showing you were the victim of identity theft.

Public Records And Other Information

How To Read Your Credit Reports

The following information was reported to your file on the date indicated.

A collection was reported in 06/07 by ABC COLLECTION AGENCY in the amount of $550. Balance outstanding: $350. Creditor industry classification: BANKING. Collection Status: Unknown. Reference: ABC BANK. Date of last Payment: 04/07. Collection agency reference number: 999999.

A judgment was filed in 01/07 in C QUE MTL. Plaintiff and/or case number: ACME CO 9999123456789012345. Defendant / Other info: SUBJECT. The status is reported as Satisfied. Date satisfied: 02/10. Information verified in 08/08. Name of Lawyer: MCOURT & MCOURT.

A voluntary bankruptcy was filed in 03/06 in FED COURT. Case number and/or Trustee: 123454567 MCOURT & MCOURT. Liabilities: $80,000. Assets: $23,500. Item classification: Individual. The information is reported on the subject only. Date Discharged 12/2008.

A report was received in 10/10 by LAKE STORE for returned cheques DOLLARS CHEQUE NUMBER 123456789). Reason: NSF was due to financial issues.

A secured loan/Chattel mortgage was filed in 08/08 in Ministry. Company name and/or amount: 555512345 DCE INC 780,000 DOLLARS. Creditor industry classification BANK.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Credit Report

How often is a credit report updated?

Credit reports can be updated daily or weekly but typically, information is updated on a monthly basis.

Who can see my credit report?

Lenders, creditors and entities with a permissible purpose, such as a prospective employer or insurance company, can access your credit reports.

Are all inquiries hard inquiries?

No. There are also soft inquiries which dont show up on your credit report or affect your credit score. For example, you can check your own credit as often as you like without triggering a hard pull.

Can I get my credit report for free if Ive been denied credit?

Yes. If youre denied credit for any reason, you can request a free copy of your credit report from the credit bureau that furnished your information to the creditor.

Im married. Do spouses share a credit report?

No. Married couples each have individual credit reports. But jointly owned credit accounts can show up on both your credit histories.

How long does information stay on my credit report?

Positive credit history can stay on your report forever. Negative information, such as late payments, can linger for up to seven years. Some bankruptcy filings can stay on your credit up to 10 years.

Do bank accounts show up on my credit report?

Does saving money help my credit score?

Will rent payments show up on my credit report?

Only if your landlord reports those payments to the credit bureaus.

Can I freeze my credit report?

What To Look For On Your Credit Report

Lenders use codes to send information to the credit bureaus about how and when you make payments.

These codes have two parts:

  • a letter shows the type of credit you’re using
  • a number shows when you make payments

You may see different codes on your credit report depending on how you make your payments for each account.

Table 1: What letters mean in a rating on a credit report


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How Do Your Debts Show Up On Your Credit Report

When your creditors and lenders send your information to the credit reporting agencies, each account comes with two identifiers, a number, and a letter. Heres what they are and what they mean:

Letters Stand for the Type of Account


You pay back your loan in fixed installments until the loan is paid back in full. Examples of this type of account are car loans or personal loans.

Open status

You can borrow money when you need to, up to a certain limit. A line of credit will show up as an open status account on your credit report.


You can borrow specific amounts of money up until youve researched your limit your payments fluctuate depending on how much youve borrowed. A credit card is an example of revolving credit.


Mortgages do not always show up on credit reports, it depends on the credit reporting agency.

Numbers Represent a Rating

0 = Account is too new to rate, not yet used.

1 = Paid off within the agreed time limit.

2 = Late payment, 31-59 days late.

3 = Late payment, 6089 days late.

4= Late payment, 90119 days late.

5 = Late payment, more than 120 days late.

6 = Not used.

7 = Account is currently in consolidation, consumer proposal, debt management program.

8= Repossession.

9= Bad debt, accounts that have been sent to collections or are in bankruptcy.

How To Get Your Free Credit Report

Exploring Your Credit Report, Part Four | How To Read Your Equifax Credit Report

You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major bureaus every 12 months. You can either request all three reports at once, or stagger each report, depending on your needs. By staggering your report, you can see if or how your report is changing throughout the year. Currently, the only authorized website for free annual credit reports is You can also call the toll free number 1-877-322-8228.

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Full Lowdown On What Mse Credit Club Offers:

  • Our Affordability Score. This clever tool helps you work out how much you can afford to borrow, using calculations based on your income and estimated spending.
    • Our Credit Hit Rate. This shows your chances of success, as a percentage, of grabbing our top cards and loans.
    • Eligibility tool. It reveals the likelihood of you getting top credit cards or loans .
    • Your credit profile explained. It shows the key factors affecting your score and how to improve them.

    Or alternatively…

    Experian’s CreditExpert free 30-day trial*. CreditExpert offers new customers a “free 30-day trial, then £14.99 a month” service. It’s different from MSE’s Credit Club in that it gives you real-time access to your credit report . It also offers an eligibility checker. You can only do the free-trial once. To cancel your subscription, log into your account and go to ‘My Subscriptions’.

    Experian’s Credit Score free subscription to your score. If you don’t want to pay a subscription to see your credit report, you can sign up for free to see your Experian Credit Score. You won’t have to pay anything, but the information is limited to seeing your credit score, as opposed to credit report. The score updates every 30 days.

    Access Your Business Credit Reports

    The major business credit reporting bureaus include Experian, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet. In order to get the most detailed picture of your credit health, its a good idea to periodically review your report from each major business credit bureau. Similar to personal credit reports, the information that each credit bureau collects can vary slightly. You can access your report directly from each bureau or use a third-party site like Nav or .

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    Dispute Any Incorrect Information

    While credit reporting errors are somewhat rare, they may occur and can affect your businesss credit rating. If you notice any incorrect information or dont recognize an account on your credit report from any bureau, take note of the error and contact the appropriate credit bureau to correct or remove the issue. To learn more about resolving a business credit reporting error, read this guide.

    How To Correct Your Equifax Credit Report

    Credit Report: Sample Credit Report Equifax

    Life is often about the imperfections we find around. While a few of these imperfections add beauty, there are some which have a negative impact on our overall quality of life. An error, especially in your credit report, can have an adverse impact on your ability to acquire a loan. As a consumer, it is your responsibility to check your for any errors and resolve them by approaching the relevant authority.

    Common errors found in an Equifax credit report

    Some of the common errors which can find their way into your Equifax credit report are highlighted below:

    How to correct your Equifax Credit report

    Errors can be committed on the part of either an individual, a financial institution or the credit bureau and they can be rectified by following a simple procedure.

    Dispute Resolution Form

    If you find an error in your credit report, you can use the Dispute Resolution Form to rectify it. This form can be downloaded from the official Equifax website and should be filled and submitted to the bureau. A member should provide supporting documents like self-attested address and ID proof and post it to the Equifax office.

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    How To Read Your Business Credit Report

    • Print

    Small business owners rarely have downtime to handle every administrative task, but some matters shouldnt be ignored. One often overlooked area is your credit health. Business credit can impact your companys reputation, financial health and the ability to secure business financing.

    Building and monitoring your businesss credit may be more important than you think. Learn how to read and interpret a business credit report with this guide.

    How To Clean Up Your Report

    Improving your credit score and cleaning up your credit report isnt as simple as paying missed bills and becoming debt-freealthough that can help. Paying your bills on time and consistently, never missing a payment, holding various credit accounts, and apply for credit only when you need it, can increase your score.

    However, poor credit choices and bad financial decisions can stay on your report for upwards of six years, if not longer. That is why starting on the right foot, with a good understanding of your credit report and how it can affect your future financial choices is vital for reaching your goals.

    Reviewing your credit report at least once a year can help you catch and report errors. If you think an item on your report is an error, first, contact both Equifax and TransUnion and notify them of the mistake. If the error is in your personal information, you should ask that the details be corrected. If the item is suspected to be fraud, request an alert on your credit report. Also, inform the Canada Anti-fraud Centre.

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    Equifax Credit Reports And Scores

    Equifax can provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. You can also get a free copy of your credit report if you have been declined credit in the past 90 days or if you had an item corrected on your Equifax credit report.

    If you dont meet the criteria for a free credit report, you can pay for a once-off copy of your report or you can sign-up to a paid plan. This can provide up to 12 credit reports a year and your credit score monthly.

    Why Credit Reports Are Important


    Credit reports are an important snapshot of your financial health. Credit can make or break your chances at a mortgage and influences what kind of credit cards, insurances and interest rates you qualify for.

    Having good credit can make it easier for banks and lenders to say yes to your credit applications, and youre more likely to be offered lower interest rates or better loan conditions, like a low fixed-rate mortgage or a higher credit limit on a card. With good credit, landlords are more likely to rent you an apartment.

    Bad credit means that youre limited to fewer credit card options, youll miss out on the benefits that come with the best credit cards, and youre likely to have higher interest rates and higher insurance premiums. Bad credit could mean being turned down for a rental, having to make a larger upfront payment or taking on a co-signer with good credit. A bad credit score can even affect your love life: one Bankrate survey found that 4 in 10 Americans might swipe left after knowing someones credit score.

    Understanding your credit report helps you know where you stand so you can work on building your credit score. Regularly reviewing your credit report at least once a year also gives you a chance to correct any errors to make sure your credit report is an accurate representation of your financial situation.

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    How Does Equifax Calculate Your Credit Score

    Equifax calculates your credit score based on the information in your credit report at the time your score is requested. In addition to looking at your repayment history and any adverse events, such as overdue debts and court judgments, Equifax says it also takes into account factors such as:

    • The type of credit providers you have applied to in the past for example, non-traditional lenders may have a different level of risk than banks and credit unions.
    • The type and size of credit requested in your application for example, a mortgage may have a different level of risk compared to a credit card or a personal loan.
    • The number and pattern of credit enquiries you have made for example, if you shop around for credit and apply to multiple providers in a short amount of time, this can have a negative impact on your credit score.
    • Your personal details, such as your age, length of employment and how long youve lived your current address.
    • The age of your credit report for example, a new file with little credit information may be different to an older file with a longer credit history.

    Carefully Comb Through Each Section On Your Report

    Payment information on your report can vary depending on the business credit bureau, as different companies and/or tradelines may not send data to every bureau. Although the major credit bureaus may collect and show different information, they collect the same types of financial data. In general, you should see the following information on your business credit report:

    • General company information, including business ownership, number of employees and any subsidiaries, where applicable.
    • Historical payment data, such as on-time, late and/or missing payments to vendors, tradelines and creditors. If your company has any collections filings, the information will be listed here as well.
    • Operational and registrational data for your company.
    • Public documents and filings, including liens, UCC filings, judgments and related documents, where available.
    • Business credit rating, which usually ranges from 0 to 100 points .

    Its a good idea to look through each section carefully, and make note of any negative marks on your credit report. Once you know exactly what accounts or data are negatively impacting your score, you can take steps to correct or improve your credit rating. In general, paying vendors, creditors and other businesses you work with on time and in full can help improve your over time.

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    How To Get A Credit Report

    Youre allowed one free copy of your credit report every year from each of the major credit-reporting agencies we just talked about. But the reports arent automatically mailed to youyou have to ask for them! And since each agency keeps different details on file, its worth checking with all three. If you play your cards right, you can even stagger them so youre getting a free report nearly every quarter.

    Now that you know how to get your credit report, well walk you through the four major areas you need to check for any red flags. These could help you spot potential identity theft situations, so listen up!

    How Your Credit Score Is Calculated

    How to Read a Credit Report

    Your credit score is calculated based on what’s in your credit report. For example:

    • the amount of money youve borrowed
    • the number of credit applications youve made
    • whether you pay on time

    Depending on the credit reporting agency, your score will be between zero and either 1,000 or 1,200.

    A higher score means the lender will consider you less risky. This could mean getting a better deal and saving money.

    A lower score will affect your ability to get a loan or credit. See how to improve your credit score.

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