So you’ve accessed your credit report, but what the heck does it mean?
Well, you’re in luck because this guide will show you how to read a credit report with ease. Specifically, you’ll learn how to read an Equifax credit report through a myEquifax account.
Let’s dive right in.
Understanding credit reports in Canada
Before we go further, let’s start things off with a quick review of the basics.
A credit report holds information about how you manage credit. It’s the job of credit bureaus, also known as credit reporting agencies, to record how you use and repay credit products such as credit cards and loans. This information is sent from lenders to credit bureaus, then it’s added to your credit report.
Credit reports are used, among other things, to decide on whether to lend money or extend credit to someone, choose a tenant for property rental, or decide on a job applicant.
In other words, companies use credit reports to find out more about you then use this information to make decisions.
Best of all, a credit report shows you how your financial behaviour affects your creditworthiness, allowing you to make better financial decisions that ultimately improve your credit. You can also protect against identity theft and fraud.
Check your credit report doesn’t affect your credit score.
What is on my credit report?
Credit reports keep a comprehensive record of your financial history, such as:
- Any open credit accounts and their balances.
- Defaulted or closed accounts.
- Missed or late payments.
- Non-sufficient funds payments.
- Debts sent to collection agencies.
- Court decisions and bankruptcies.
- Registered items such as a lien on a house or car.
- Inquiries from lenders.
How to get a credit report in Canada
There are two major credit bureaus, also known as credit reporting agencies, in Canada: Equifax and TransUnion.
Occasionally, a lender might report to one credit bureau, meaning your credit report (and credit score) might not be the same for each bureau. That’s why it’s essential to check both.
Both offer a free service that allows you to order a copy of your credit report.
Equifax: free credit report
Equifax offers a free credit report to all Canadians. As if that’s not enough, your credit score is also included, which gives you an overall snapshot of your credit report.
It’s available online, by phone, by mail or in person.
Because it’s a free credit report, it doesn’t update and lasts for 30 days. When this period ends, you must request a new copy.
You can access your free Equifax credit report by visiting the Equifax credit report page.
TransUnion: free credit report
TransUnion will provide you with a free version of your credit report, referred to as a Consumer Disclosure.
It contains additional information that only you can see, such as account management inquiries, non-credit-related inquiries and personal inquiries. These inquiries are not visible to companies when you apply for credit.
Your credit score doesn’t appear in a Consumer Disclosure, but there are other ways to check your TransUnion credit score, such as through Credit Karma. This is a free credit score and report which uses TransUnion’s credit scoring.
Every Canadian has the right to obtain a free copy of their Consumer Disclosure online, by mail or in person.
A Consumer Disclosure doesn’t update in real-time; an updated version is available once a month.
Request your free TransUnion credit report by visiting the TransUnion Consumer Disclosure page.
How to get an Equifax credit report
How to create a myEquifax account
The first step is to create a myEquifax account. You can do this by registering for an account and supplying some basic information such as your name, date of birth and address.
Entering your Social Insurance Number is optional, but it assists Equifax in locating your credit report and verifying your identity.
myEquifax account summary
When you first log in to your myEquifax credit report, you’re greeted with a dashboard that displays some basic information:
- Credit score summary.
- Credit report summary.
- The product you are using (free myEquifax credit score and report).
You’ll be able to see your score immediately on your account dashboard and whether it’s considered poor, fair, good, very good, or excellent. You can also see when the last change in your score occurred.
Next, we’ll look at how the credit score and credit report sections work.
How to find your credit score on an Equifax report
The great thing about an Equifax free credit report is that it includes your credit score, a three-digit number calculated using the information in your credit report.
Think of it as an overall grading of your entire credit history. The higher your score, the more likely you’ll be accepted for things like credit cards, loans, mortgages, car finance and property rentals.
Here’s how Equifax Canada grades credit scores:
- Poor: 300-559
- Fair: 560-659
- Good: 660-724
- Very good: 725-759
- Excellent: 760-900
By selecting the Credit Score option from the navigation, you’ll see your Equifax credit score and how it compares to the previous month. You will also see the factors impacting your Equifax credit score so you can take steps to resolve any issues.
In many cases, missed payments and high credit utilization are responsible for a drop in your score.
If you want to learn more about credit scores, read our guides:
How to read a myEquifax Canada credit report
Let’s look at how Canadian Equifax credit reports are displayed and what each section means.
Your Equifax credit report is a record of your financial history, such as open credit accounts, defaulted or closed accounts, missed or late payments, debts sent to collections, court decisions and inquiries from lenders.
A credit report helps you understand how your financial behaviour affects your credit, which allows you to make better decisions.
Credit report summary
When you log in to myEquifax, you’ll see a summary of your credit report:
Choose view your credit report to see the full report. When you do so, you’ll be able to access a breakdown of your credit report.
1. Personal information
This section typically includes your name, birth date and Social Insurance Number (SIN). It also includes historical data such as current and previous addresses and employers.
Be sure that this information is correct, as it can result in an improvement to your credit score.
From here, you can see the different types of credit accounts you use:
- Revolving credit (e.g. credit card)
- Mortgage (e.g. mortgage for your home)
- Installment credit (e.g. loan)
- Other (e.g. telecoms) (also referred to as Open credit)
When you choose a type of credit account, such as revolving accounts, you can see a summary of all the credit accounts you’ve opened:
Each account shows the balance, credit utilization (how much credit you use), late payments and account age.
Here’s a tip: older credit accounts will increase your average account age, which is attractive to lenders. If you open a new account, this will lower your average age and negatively affect your credit.
You can choose to view more details on each account to see a more detailed view of the account, including an exact credit utilization breakdown and additional information such as:
- Account number
- Current balance
- Credit limit
- Last payment amount
- Payments that are past due
- Balances that are past due
- The date you opened the account
- Date of last activity (when the account was reported as used)
- Payment status (if the account is up to date or not)
- Months reviewed (how long the account has been reported to Equifax)
- Payment history: displays whether the account was late in receiving payment.
An example of an Equifax revolving account:
3. Bank information reported
Here, you can see banking information such as closed chequing and savings accounts and whether there are any non-sufficient funds (NSF) payments on file (payments not honoured due to insufficient funds).
Good to know: credit transactions will disappear six years from the date of the last activity, and banking information will disappear six years from the date of registration.
This section displays all inquiries made on your credit report. Inquiries occur when lenders and companies request to look at your credit report.
Each inquiry displays the company’s name that looked at your credit report and a phone number to call if you have questions.
When you apply for credit, a hard inquiry is recorded. Hard inquiries can impact your credit score and remain on your credit report for three years from the inquiry date.
Non-credit-related inquiries are known as soft inquiries. They don’t affect your credit score and are not visible to anyone but you.
5. Public Records
The public records section displays information on file with the government and is accessible to the general public. It’s recorded, so lenders understand your creditworthiness.
Examples of public records include:
- Voluntary repayment programs such as an Orderly Payment Of Debts or Credit Counselling.
- Consumer proposals.
- Judgments (court decisions).
- Garnishment of wages (earnings seized to pay off a debt).
- Liens against property.
Debts sent to collections
If this happens, the account may appear in the collections section. You’ll see information such as the creditor’s name, the date the collection was reported to Equifax, and the outstanding balance.
Accounts in collections severely affect your credit score and remain on your credit report for at least six years from the date of your last payment.
6. Secured loans
A secured loan is attached to an item of value that you own and may appear in this section of your credit report.
7. Alerts, Disclosures and Contact History
Here, you can see a record of when you asked Equifax to put an identity alert, fraud alert, or consumer statement on your record. It also lists any written and verbal requests you have made to Equifax.
How can I put an alert on my credit report?
You can add an identity or fraud alert to your credit report.
Identity alerts make it easier for lenders in Canada to check your identity before providing credit. It lets you add a statement and phone number to your credit report.
Fraud alerts are available to people who have been the victims of fraud or identity theft. It’s similar to an identity alert, where you can add a statement to your credit report. This can encourage lenders to call you before approving a credit application.
What is a consumer statement on a credit report?
You can add a consumer statement to your credit report to provide additional information to lenders. For example, if you have some late payments, you may want to explain why so lenders understand the reasons.
8. Contact TransUnion
Easy access to contact information for the other national credit bureau (also known as credit reporting agency) in Canada – TransUnion.
You’ll want to request a report from both Equifax and TransUnion because they may have different information about you on file. As a result, this means your credit score might be slightly different for each.
How to correct Equifax information
Credit report disputes are common, so if you spot an error on your credit report, you can submit Equifax’s Consumer Credit Report Update Form.
Alternatively, you can download and complete this form, then forward it to Equifax by mail:
Equifax Canada Co.
National Consumer Relations
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2
How to contact Equifax Canada
You can call Equifax at 1-800-465-7166.
See also: How to get a free credit report
How to read a TransUnion credit report
In Canada, you can obtain a free TransUnion credit report, known as a Consumer Disclosure.
Learn how a Consumer Disclosure is displayed and what each section means by reading our guide on how to read a TransUnion Consumer Disclosure.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this guide, and you have a better understanding of how to read an Equifax credit report and how this information affects your credit. Learn more about a credit report and how to check your credit report.
Share this article