The Center For Debt Management
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Equifax:
Consumer Credit Reporting Agency

Equifax, Inc. is a consumer credit reporting agency in the US, considered one of the "big three" credit agencies along with Experian and TransUnion. Founded in 1899, Equifax is the oldest of the three agencies and gathers and maintains information on over 400 million credit holders worldwide. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax is a global service provider with over $1.5 billion in annual revenue and approximately 5,000 employees on 3 continents and in 14 countries.

Services For Businesses

For most of its existence, Equifax has operated primarily in the business-to-business sector, providing consumer credit reports and related analytics to businesses in a range of industries. Business customers include retailers, insurance firms, healthcare providers, utilities, government agencies, as well as banks and other financial institutions.

Equifax provides its business customers with credit reports, analytics, demographic data, and decisioning platforms. Credit reports provide detailed information on the personal credit and payment history of individuals, indicating how they have honored financial obligations such as paying bills or repaying a loan. Businesses then use this information to decide what sort of products or services to offer their customers, and on what terms.

For example, a bank considering a person for a mortgage loan will use the information in the person’s credit report in order to determine his or her track record for paying off debt. A person with strong credit will likely receive loan terms (interest rate, loan size, etc) that are more favorable than for someone with weaker credit.

In general, a good credit history is a strong predictor of a person’s likelihood to repay a loan or to manage a credit account responsibly. Thus, having good credit generally enables consumers to obtain credit or financing on favorable terms.

Products for General Consumers

Beginning in 1999, Equifax began offering products that help consumers understand and monitor their credit history. These consumer products are designed to educate consumers about their credit health, help consumers understand the creditworthy behaviors that will enable them to establish and maintain strong credit, and alert consumers to the possibility of their being a victim of credit fraud or identity theft. The products offered by Equifax include credit reports and scores, credit monitoring and score monitoring.

Consumers are entitled to one free credit file disclosure in a 12 month period, which may be requested on-line at Annualcreditreport.com. Additionally, Equifax sells online reports or monthly or annual monitoring subscriptions through its website.

Credit Score

Associated with a person’s credit history, though not part of the credit report, is a number called the credit score. The most commonly used credit score is the FICO® credit score, which is used by over 70% of the nation's creditors to make financial decisions about consumers.

Based on information in a person’s credit report, a credit score is a mathematical model used to predict how likely a person is to repay a loan. For the FICO® credit score, the scores range from 300 to 850, with higher scores considered better. The majority of credit scores fall within the 600s and 700s.

Consumer Issues

Consumer credit reporting is sometimes viewed with skepticism by consumers due to some cases of errors in data.

As of July 2007, Equifax form letters include a toll-free number, (888)876-5796, that is no longer in service. Below this defunct phone number, the Equifax form letter informs customers that they "must call within 60 days" if they wish to dispute any "information" contained within the letter.

Equifax has previously violated laws requiring customer access. In 2003, Equifax paid $250,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its blocked-call rate and hold times violated provisions of an earlier consent decree that settled a 2000 lawsuit for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). That lawsuit settled charges that Equifax did not have sufficient personnel available to answer the toll-free phone number provided on consumers' credit reports.


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