Equifax is one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the world, with data covering more than 800 million consumers and approaching 90 million businesses across the globe.
Equifax Credit Report and Score is a commercial product which enables monitoring your credit score and report. Bonus identity protection features include alerts whenever there's a significant change to your credit report, while Equifax WebDetect monitors the internet for your personal information.
Pricing is almost identical to Experian and the other big-name competition: Credit Report and Score is free for 30 days, £14.95 a month after that.
Equifax's reputation took a major hit in 2017 when it revealed a massive data breach which allowed hackers to obtain sensitive information – names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers and more – on over 140 million US consumers, plus this incident impacted others in the UK.
Does this mean you shouldn't trust the company? The hack certainly indicates some fundamental security issues at the time, but that doesn't mean they're present now. If anything, the need to show the company is getting a handle on its security situation could mean Equifax is now safer than most of the competition.
We have no way to evaluate the company’s internal security procedures, so we're not going to take the data breach into account here. But if you feel differently, you're not going to be alone, and there are plenty of solid alternatives you can try instead (try Noddle and Experian CreditExpert first).
- We tell you how to check if your identity has been stolen
Getting started with Equifax requires handing over all the usual personal information: name, gender, birth date, payment details and your addresses for the last six years.
By default the site assigns your email address as your username, but, conveniently, you can change that to whatever you like. That's a welcome move, as having a different username for every website makes it far more difficult for hackers to crack your account.
After handing over our cash, the site asked us to log in. But when we entered the username and password we had just created, it repeatedly told us these weren't correct. After three login failures the site asked us to verify some personal details before it would allow us to log in, but these didn't work, either.
Eventually the problem became clear. Equifax had recognized our personal details from a very old account we had forgotten existed and not allowed a new account to be created. That makes sense, as someone creating a second account for the same person could be a sign of fraud, and of course the issue was partly our fault for not using our original account in the first place.
That said, the website didn't help by not warning us of the issue and apparently accepting our order, then ignoring it entirely. If you try the service yourself, make sure you log in with any previous Equifax account rather than trying to create a new one.
Logging in to Equifax displays an attractive web console where, once you've set everything up, you'll eventually see summaries of your credit score, credit report, and various alerts that could indicate identity theft.
The console also included an ad for a comparison site, for some reason. Well, okay, we know the reason – it makes Equifax more money – but when customers are already paying £14.95 a month, we don't see why they should be subjected to ads as well.
The interface is a little strange. Instead of simply displaying your credit score, as other services do, Equifax displays a button to Order and then Update the score. This only takes a couple of clicks and doesn't cost you anything, but we found it was treated as an order for the product, and resulted in us being emailed an invoice for £0. It's not a big deal and you'll get used to it quickly enough, but it's hard to see why anyone at Equifax might think this is a good idea.
Once you've clicked to create your order, the results appear almost immediately. These start with the score and a text summary of what it means. If you need more, a basic report shows how your score compares to the rest of the UK, provides details of your current credit agreements (total owing, credit card utilization, months since last payment issue), whether you're on the electoral roll, the number of recent searches for details on your credit report, and a summary of any court judgements against you.
A Credit Report Elements allows you to drill down to the details in some key areas: electoral roll, credit agreements, court information, financial associates, gone away records, CIFAS, searches, notices of correction and property valuations.
Some of these sub-reports were less useful than we expected. The credit report had our current address, for instance, but the Property Valuation page reported it as 'No Data Present'.
Other pages were much more informative. The Credit Agreements page listed our current accounts, credit cards, mobile phone and other agreements from the last five years, all with a vast amount of detail. It's interesting to see what has been classed as a 'credit agreement', maybe without you even realizing (ours included a five-year-old mail order purchase of some jeans), and if someone has fraudulently opened an account in your name, you'll discover all about it here.
If your credit report changes in future, Equifax will by default send you an email alert. There's also an option to send an SMS, if you prefer.
A WebDetect feature monitors 'hard-to-find websites' for your choice of up to six email addresses, six telephone numbers, 12 credit or debit cards and six bank account numbers (more than many competing services), as well as your driving licence and National Insurance number. If it spots any of these details you'll be sent an alert.
A Social Scan claims to search around 100 social media sites for your personal details, and warns of any identity theft risk. This told us our risk was High and that we were sharing lots of personal information online, but we're unsure why, as all it could find was a name. The scan might find and remind you of an old social media account you'd forgotten about, though, giving you a helpful prompt to close it and reduce your online exposure.
Once you've accessed your credit report, used the Social Scan and other features, a summary of their findings is displayed in your web console. This is more text-heavy than it needs to be, but once you know where to look, it's easy enough to find the details you need.
If you have any problems, free telephone support is available from 8am to 8pm. We tried the service and a recorded voice told us Equifax was ‘experiencing unusually heavy demand’, but our call was answered within seconds, and a helpful agent did a good job of answering our questions.
Equifax Credit Report and Score offers decent credit reporting and throws in some interesting extras that we've not seen anywhere else. The interface has some quirks, though, and the service doesn't always work quite as you would expect.
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