How to Get Your Free Credit Report From Equifax

FT Contributor
A smartphone displays the Equifax logo.

You can request a free credit report through Equifax, one of three different credit companies that offers this service. Your credit score is a vital piece of financial information that’s used when deciding if you’re eligible for a loan, credit card, or other transactions. It’s important to know how to obtain and read your credit report so you can keep an eye on your score.

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How to Get an Equifax Credit Report

You’re entitled to one free credit report every year with Equifax. You may be entitled to ask for an additional credit report during this 12-month period if you’re unemployed and plan to apply for employment within the next 60 days, you believe you’ve been the victim of fraud and need to check the information in your credit report, or you currently receive public welfare assistance.

To request a credit report through Equifax, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Equifax website.
  2. Enter your personal information, including your name, Social Security number, and contact information.
  3. Create an account with the Equifax website.
  4. Verify your account information by email.
  5. Sign back into your account and request your credit report.

Once you’ve created an online account through Equifax, you can sign into the same account to verify your identity and request another free credit report the next year.

How Is the Equifax Credit Score Determined?

Since there are three different credit bureaus that calculate your credit score and pull your financial information, you may have three different credit scores. When you review your Equifax credit score, learning how the bureau calculates your score is helpful.

Equifax considers several financial factors when calculating your credit score, such as the length of your credit history and the number of accounts you have open. Additional factors that affect your credit score include the following:

  • Your payment history: Your past bankruptcies and debt collection are reported in your credit history, as well as when you made debt or loan payments on time or late.
  • Your utilized credit: Lenders want to see that you have available credit that you’re not using and that all your accounts are not charged to their maximum limits. This shows you have restraint and are financially responsible while paying off your debt.
  • New credit accounts: When you open new credit accounts, there isn’t enough time to see if you’re implementing good financial habits. New credit accounts may lower your credit score due to a lack of history.
  • Hard inquiries: If you have frequent hard inquiries on your credit report, it means several lenders have recently checked your credit. These inquiries lower your credit score because it shows you’re likely trying to apply for more debt.

Equifax Credit Report Score Range

Equifax takes all these factors into consideration to calculate your credit score. Most lenders and financial institutions use this score to determine your creditworthiness.

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Your credit score falls within a range that determines whether it’s good or bad. These ranges vary depending on the credit reporting agency but according to Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), these ranges are generally as follows:

  • Excellent: 800 to 850;
  • Very good: 740 to 799;
  • Good: 670 to 739;
  • Fair: 580 to 669;
  • Poor: 300 to 579.

Your credit score range not only determines if you qualify for certain financial opportunities, it also determines the terms you’re offered. With a poor score, you may be offered a high interest rate or be responsible for a large deposit. With a good credit score, you may receive a higher loan amount and lower interest rate.

What to Do with Your Free Credit Report

Once you receive your credit report from Equifax, begin reviewing the information included on the report. If there are erroneous items reported, contact the credit bureau or creditor to have these mistakes corrected.

Consider the negative items on your report and poor financial behaviors you may have engaged in. While you may not be able to do anything to remove these items from the report, changing your behaviors and displaying responsible financial behavior in the future will help increase your score.

If you feel hopeless about your debt and credit score, consider finding a reputable credit repair company that can help you negotiate payment plans with your creditors. A credit repair professional may have other suggestions that could help you increase your score quickly.

Learning what’s on your credit report is helpful when keeping tabs on your finances. By pulling your report with Equifax, you’ll learn about your own creditworthiness and the changes you need to make to improve your score.

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