Instructions on Interpreting Equifax Credit Bureau Reports

By Kate Evelyn

  • Overview

    While the credit reports from all three credit bureaus contain basically the same information, each bureau presents it in a slightly different manner. This means that even if you have already looked at your reports from TransUnion and Experian you may still have a little trouble interpreting your Equifax credit bureau report without having some instructions handy. Luckily the organization has made some moves in recent years to make its web-based reports very readable and user-friendly.
    • Step 1

      Order your report by going to the Equifax website or being redirected from the Annual Credit Report website. If you go through the latter, you can get one free report each year. Select the option to view your report online and open it on your computer. You will see a menu down the left side of your report that gives you a list of options. Start by clicking on the first one, "Personal Information."
    • Step 2

      Read through the information, which will consist of your current and previous addresses, birth date, employment history, Social Security number and any statements or alerts that have been added to your report. Check that everything is correct, then select "Credit Summary."

    • Step 3

      Scroll though this section to view all of the credit accounts you have. They are divided into mortgage, installment, revolving lines of credit and other. Make sure that the number of open accounts is correct and that your closed accounts are marked as closed. Then check your balances and credit limits for accuracy on applicable loans.
    • Step 4

      Choose the "Inquiries" button. You will get a list of all of the organizations that have viewed your credit file in the past year. Pay special attention to the "Inquiries That Display to Companies" since these are the ones visible to potential lenders checking your file. All of these inquiries should have been made with your permission. If you see one that you didn't authorize, write to the company and ask to have it taken off your file. The contact information will be in your report. Just click on "Show Details."
    • Step 5

      Check out the "Collections" section by selecting that item from the menu. If you don't see that item, it means you don't have any collection activity on your report. If you do have some information on file, that means you didn't pay a bill on time and your creditor referred you to a collection agency.
    • Step 6

      Go to "Public Records" if you have that title on your menu. Here will be any judgments, bankruptcies, liens or garnishments. Make sure that the information matches your court records.
    • Step 7

      Click on "Dispute File Information" if you need to correct anything. You should only report information that is factually incorrect. If something is true but you would like it removed from your report, you will have to deal with the creditor in question directly.
    • Skill: Moderately Easy

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