Earlier this year one of our credit cards was compromised. My card was charged thousands of dollars in electronics and other online gear which was delivered to someone living in another province. I reported the fraudulent activity and had to complete some paperwork for my credit card company. Much later, I realized I probably should also check my credit file to make sure no one had asked for a loan or a new credit card using the information from my compromised card. So as year end approached, I phoned Equifax to request my free annual credit file report. Here’s what was in it.
A Free Equifax Credit Report Does Not Include Your Credit Rating or Credit Score
First I’ll mention what’s not in it. The free report does not include my credit rating or my credit score.
I don’t know if I have 500 points or 800. I don’t know if I’m BBB or AAA. To find out that information I’d have to pay money. Since I’ve never done anything to damage my rating and I’ve done lots of things that should improve my rating I don’t really care what number they have on file. If you do care, you’ll have to pay for it.
Who Has Been Inquiring About My Equifax Credit File?
Apparently I’m just as unpopular with financial institutions as I am with regular people.
In the past two years only two institutions have inquired about me:
- One was PC Financial when I opened my chequing account.
- The other was BMO when I got a US dollar MasterCard (which I’ve since cancelled.)
There is also a short list of inquiries “from authorized parties to update their records regarding your existing account with them.”
I have no idea what that means either!
The “parties” are two banks I deal with only. They don’t really seem to be on any particular dates and they only made their requests a few times over the last three years. I have no idea what they were looking for in my file. I have dealings with two other banks that have not made any inquiries.
In the notes it says they may “update their client information prior to making a promotional offering.” I don’t remember receiving any chance of a lifetime promotional offers that match the inquiry dates either.
My Credit History And/Or Banking Information in My Equifax Credit File
This section lists information
- reported to Equifax by the organizations listed
- the info is received every 30 days from most “credit grantors”
Well, each of my whopping 2 credit cards is listed.
On my report, none of my bank accounts, savings or chequing, is listed.
For each credit card, the Equifax report states
- when the last report was made
- a code, in my case, R1 which is defined as “paid as agreed and up to date”
- whether the account is joint
- the last reported balance on the account
- a small part of the account (card) number
- when the account was opened
- the date the last payment, purchase or cash advance was made
- if the card has been terminated, the date it was closed (remember I cancelled our USD MasterCard)
- how many times the account has been 2 payment periods past due; 3 ditto; 4 ditto
- for the past 48 “reportings” for a monthly payment card, how many “reportings” were paid as agreed
What If I See Something Wrong in My Credit File?
Equifax includes a form called the “Consumer Credit Report Update Form” that you can fill in to report errors and omissions.
What’s the Security Like to Protect Me If This Equifax Credit File Letter Gets Stolen?
You may be reluctant to request your credit file report if you think the letter might get stolen and the thief might get your credit card numbers, name, address, SIN number, driver’s license number and other valuable information.
I have to admit I’m a bit uneasy about that too.
Equifax has made a token attempt to protect my info. In the letter, they only give
- part of my date of birth
- part of my Social Insurance Number
- no bank account numbers
- a very small part of my credit card number
- no credit card expiry date numbers
- no credit card “back of the card extra security code” numbers
I’m a bit dismayed, though, that they list
- my entire Driver’s License number and
- my entire (now invalid) Passport Number.
If I can find the energy, I may be writing them about that and suggesting they mask part of those numbers as well.
If you are requesting your report, I suggest you consider applying by telephone. You will have to tell them your SIN number (but they already know that anyway) but you won’t have to give them your Driver’s License or Passport Number like you have to if you apply in writing. Then (if you haven’t provided them in the past) those government ID numbers will not be on your Credit File or in the letter that they mail to you.
Miscellaneous Odd Stuff in My Equifax Credit Report
Other odds and ends they included in the report
- My file was opened the year I graduated.
I don’t know exactly why. The file opened months after I moved into a new city and a new apartment; obtained a MasterCard; started work in a permanent full-time job; and opened a new bank account at a different bank. I’ll never know why all of those previous items didn’t cause them to open a file.
- They list my previous and last two addresses.
They have the street name wrong for my oldest address but I’m not planning to fix it because I lived there more than 19 years ago.
- They have my Birth Date and SIN number correctly on file.
- They know my telephone number but they only found out what it was in 2010. I’m not sure why they found out then either as we neither contacted Equifax nor changed our number.
- They know my Driver’s License and Passport numbers from when I applied in writing a few years ago. I applied by telephone this time, so they don’t know my correct Passport number which has changed. (Yes, I let my Passport expire accidentally. Oops.)
They also list definitions of the following terms: (It takes a full page.)
- credit score
- credit inquiries to the file
- credit history and banking information
- voluntary deposit
- registered consumer proposal
- judgments, seizure of movable/immovable, garnishment of wages
- collection accounts
- secured loans
- What is an inquiry?
- Why was I denied credit?
- Why is something I paid off still on my credit file?
- What can be done if I suspect I am a victim of identity fraud?
- Credit clinics
Phew. There seems to be a lot of terms that aren’t applicable to our account for which I am exceedingly grateful.
There is a final heading of “Consumer Department” but nothing following it. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to represent the signature closing the letter or if they just randomly stopped printing definitions at that point!
Did you ever order your credit report? Were there any surprises in it? Please share your experiences with a comment.