How To Read an Equifax Credit Report

Equifax credit reports often are broken up into ten sections:  Summary, Revolving Accounts, Mortgage Accounts, Installment Accounts, Other Accounts, Consumer Statements, Personal Information, Inquiries, Public Records, and Collections.

The Summary section provides an overall view into the credit report without getting into significant detail.  It typically shows the average age of a consumer’s accounts, the length of the consumer’s credit history, the number of accounts with negative information, and the oldest and most recent accounts.  It also shows the total number of revolving, mortgage, installment, and other accounts that belong to a consumer, and it provides the total balance, available funds, credit limit, debt-to-credit percentage, and payments for those accounts.  Further, the Summary section summarizes the number of inquiries a consumer has, as well as the number of public records, collections accounts, and other general information.

The Revolving Accounts section shows the accounts that generally include a credit limit and that require a monthly payment.  Most often, credit cards that belong to a consumer appear in the Revolving Accounts section.

The Mortgage Accounts section shows real estate loans that require payment on a monthly basis until the loan is paid off.  The Mortgage Accounts section will, among other things, identify the creditor, contain the balance on the loan, and show the status of the account.

The Installment Accounts section contains information on loans that require payment on a monthly basis until the loan is paid off.  The most common kinds of Installment loans are automobile loans and student loans.  Like the Mortgage Accounts section, the Installment Accounts section will identify the creditor, contain the balance on the loan, and show the status of the account.

The Other Accounts section will show a consumer’s accounts that are not identified in one of the previous sections, including child support obligations and rental obligations.

In the Consumer Statements section, a consumer can add to a credit report an explanation of up to 100 words to provide more information on an item of information in the report that the consumer disagrees with or that the consumer would like to provide more details on.

The Personal Information section contains a consumer’s personal information.  It will show a consumer’s name, aliases, social security number, and date of birth.  Typically, it also shows a consumer’s current and former addresses and employers.

The Inquiries section shows the entities who have requested from Equifax a copy of a consumer’s credit history.  The Inquiries section will show both hard and soft inquiries.  Hard inquiries are inquiries from a company with whom a consumer has applied for a loan or for credit.  Soft inquiries are, most commonly, inquiries from companies who are making promotional offers of credit or doing periodic account reviews.

The Public Records section shows records that Equifax has obtained from local, state, and federal courts through a third-party vendor, typically LexisNexis.  This section often will contain information on a consumer’s bankruptcies, and any judgments or liens the consumer has against him/her.

The Collections section shows accounts that have outstanding debt that have been placed by a consumer’s creditor with a collection agency.  The Collections section will show, among other things, the name of the collection agency, the name of the original creditor, the amount owed, the date of the first delinquency, and the status of the account.