What's in a credit report?
A credit report is a summary of your credit history, reported to credit bureaus by lenders and creditors. Learn about positive and negative information on your credit report, and how creditors may use this information.
Q. Your Equifax credit report contains four types of information:
This includes personal information, such as your name, address, Social Insurance Number, and date of birth. This information is not used to calculate credit scores.
Credit accounts, also known as "tradelines"
These are accounts that you have established with lenders and generally contain the type of account (for example, a credit card or mortgage), the date you opened the account, your credit limit or loan amount, the account balance, and your payment history.
This section includes information about the companies who have pulled a copy of your credit report, sometimes known as an "inquiry." There are two types of inquiries that you may find listed in your credit report: "soft" inquiries and "hard" inquiries.
Public record and collections information
Public court record information reported to Equifax, such as bankruptcies, is also listed in your credit report. Past-due accounts that have been turned over to a collections agency could also be included in your credit report.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a three digit number, typically between 300 and 900, which is designed to represent your credit risk, or the likelihood you will pay your bills on time. A credit score is calculated based on the information in your credit report.
Q. What factors Impact your credit score?
On time payments
One of the key behaviours that lenders and creditors like to see is on-time payment of bills. Since this is one of the strongest predictors of a consumer's likelihood to meet their financial obligations, it is an important factor in credit scoring models.
Different types of credit accounts
Credit scoring models look at the mix of different types of credit you have, such as credit cards, installment loans, mortgages, and store accounts. Creditors like to see that you're able to handle multiple accounts of different types and your credit score reflects this.
How many new credit accounts you have opened
Be mindful of opening too many accounts at once. Scoring models look at how many new accounts you have as well as how many new accounts you've applied for recently. This may indicate you are planning on taking on lots of new debt which could indicate a greater credit risk.
The age of your credit accounts
In general, creditors and lenders like to see that you've been able to properly handle credit accounts over a period of time.
Your balances vs your total available credit limit
Creditors and lenders prefer to see a lower ratio of how much debt you're carrying compared with how much available credit you have on a particular account.
Negative public records
Having any judgments, liens, foreclosures, bankruptcies, or delinquencies on your credit history may impact your credit score. If you have gone through financial hardship, and had to file for bankruptcy or completed a foreclosure, your credit score will reflect this negative information for several years.
How does identity theft happen?
Identity thieves have gotten more sophisticated in their methods, and they can access your personal information in countless ways.
Q. How do identity thieves get access to my personal information?
- Steal wallets or purses in order to obtain identification, credit cards, and bank cards;
- Dig through mail and trash in search of bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit card offers, tax information, and other documents that may contain personal details;
- Fill out change-of-address forms to forward mail, and intercept mail containing personal and financial information;
- Buy personal information from an inside, third-party source, such as a company employee who has access to applications for credit;
- Obtain personnel records from a victim's place of employment;
- “Skim” information from an ATM — this is done through an electronic device attached to an ATM that can steal the information stored on a credit or debit card's magnetic strip;
- Swipe personal information shared on unsecured websites or public WiFi;
- Steal electronic records or information through some kind of unauthorized access;
- “Phish” for electronic information with phony emails, text messages, and websites that seem legitimate, but are designed to steal sensitive information;
- Pose as a home buyer during open houses in order to gain access to sensitive information casually stored in unlocked drawers.
Q. What steps can I take to help protect myself from identity theft?
Don't over share
Tech-savvy thieves can quickly gather what you share on social networks (your home or email address; children's names; birth date and so on) to use for scams, phishing, and account theft.
Fight “phishing” — don't take the bait
Never give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact.
Check your credit report
Report problems immediately. You should review your credit report at least once per year. Consider signing up for ongoing monitoring of your credit file for potentially fraudulent activity. Take steps to detect identity theft early, which helps minimize its impact.
Use strong passwords online
Make passwords more complicated by combining letters, numbers, mixing in special characters and changing them regularly.
Don't trust public Wi-Fi
Be aware that your mobile device is vulnerable to viruses and hackers. Only download applications from trusted sources at home on a secure network.