Alerts notifying users of possible identity fraud
Special feature searches social media for details
Good web monitoring with 'WebDetect'
Speedy customer service (8am-8pm)
Equifax is one of the biggest credit reference agencies in the UK, second only to Experian, and is trusted by many users across the world for its useful credit report services.
Equifax provides its users with an insight into their credit score and rating, allowing consumers to make smarter financial decisions with the in-depth information that they acquire.
Unfortunately, while its rival Experian is most familiar due to its light-hearted ‘Meet Your Data Self’ TV campaign, Equifax is now best known for its massive data breach (or cyber-attack) where hundreds of thousands of UK customers and around 143million consumers worldwide had their personal details stolen as part of a massive global data breach.
There’s no doubt that Equifax clearly provides its users with valuable financial services, but if you do feel concerned or slightly uneasy about becoming an Equifax member after such a large-scale data breach, you’re not alone and can take a look at alternative agencies by reading our Credit Reference Agency (CRA) reviews.
However, it’s important to remember that the Equifax cyber attack occurred a few years ago now and, for the most part of our Equifax review, we’ll put the issue to one side because the company has since improved its security systems and the incident may have even led to it becoming more secure than other agencies in the market.
Here, we discuss the agency’s services, including the Equifax credit score and report, its benefits and whether it is now safe for consumers in the UK to use.
Credit reports include a wealth of financial information, typically including the following:
- A list of your accounts
- People you’re financially linked to
- Public record information
- Your current account provider
- Electoral register information
- Your name, date of birth, current and previous addresses
- If you’ve committed fraud, or if someone has stolen your identity and committed fraud
Checking your credit report is important as it gives you an insight into how you are viewed in the eyes of lenders and how likely you are to be accepted for the best credit cards, personal loans or mortgages.
By checking, you are able to identify whether you need to improve your credit score, and you can even receive tips on how you could do so with certain agencies. Being rejected for credit can damage your credit score further, so if you know you’re unlikely to be accepted for the best credit cards etc., you can take time to improve your credit before applying.
As you open the Equifax webpage, the first thing you’ll notice is a big, red button telling you to “Get your FREE* Credit Report & Score” – but that asterisk is an important one, so don’t click too soon. Below the button, there’s a small declaration that reads “*Your first 30 days are free then it’s £7.95 per month”. As you can imagine, it’s not necessarily a prominent feature of the page and could easily be missed.
You could fall into a trap if you don’t take your time – and having money taken out of your account unexpectedly is never nice – but as long as you know what you’re signing up for, there should be no surprises and you should have a pleasant customer experience.
Your one-month trial at Equifax provides you with access to a free credit score and a free credit report, so it’s certainly worth considering if you’re hoping to apply for a credit card or mortgage in the near future.
As long as you know that your free trial lasts 30 days and you will be paying £7.95 a month thereafter (unless you cancel before that period ends), you can start signing up.
The process begins with the usual information required by credit reference agencies and you’re not asked to provide anything out of the ordinary; you simply enter your name, gender, date of birth, address, and your credit card details.
Due to the sensitive information you’re going to acquire through your credit report, credit-checking companies are diligent in their identity checks. This means that you must provide a rather significant amount of information and you may be asked to answer certain questions to confirm your identity, as is the case with both Noddle and Experian. That said, signing up is far from difficult and once you’re in, the information is presented clearly in an easily understandable manner.
Remember, for obvious security reasons, you can only have one account. Therefore, if you previously made an account but can’t remember your details or want to create a new one, you’ll have to contact an operator via Equifax’s helpful customer services.
Once you are signed up to Equifax, you are all set to log in and get your £7.95 a month’s worth in credit information.
When you log in, you’re rather strangely required to press an ‘Order’ button to retrieve your report, which doesn’t cost anything extra and serves absolutely no logical purpose. It sends you an email with an invoice of £0 and that’s about it, so you can basically ignore it.
Anyway, after ‘ordering’, you wait a few seconds and a nicely formatted dashboard will appear where you’ll see an overview displaying a visual summary of your credit score and credit report, as well as identity theft alerts and other features.
Your credit score is presented inside a large circle, which is filled in red (for ‘Very Poor’), orange (for ‘Poor’), yellow (for ‘Fair’), light green (for ‘Good’), and dark green (for ‘Excellent’).There’s also a small colour-coded graphic below your score, which shows where your personal credit score ranks on the scale from ‘Very Poor’ to ‘Excellent’ and whether you’re near the top or bottom end of your category.
Your credit report is summarised straightforwardly on the dashboard but if you want more detail, you are able to look through your report for access to your credit agreements, electoral roll information, and any court judgements against you. Your credit report also shows you any recent searches for your credit details, and it also allows you to compare your credit score with UK consumers.
More experienced users can search through sub-reports for more information regarding financial associates, CIFAS, credit searches, notices of correction and property valuations in your name. These features are useful when Equifax has the data, but some customers have complained of a ‘No Data Present’ message appearing in some instances, which isn’t very helpful to anyone.
One notably resourceful feature is the page that displays your credit agreements, where all of your credit accounts from the last five years (including current accounts, credit cards, and mobile phone contracts) are gathered in one place and you are able to see whether someone has fraudulently used your identity to open an account of some sort.
Equifax will use the contact details you provided when signing up to notify you when your credit report changes in the future. By default, the Equifax alert will be sent via email, but there is also an option to receive SMS updates and notifications of changes to your credit report.
The Equifax WebDetect feature monitors websites and searches for your personal details online, alerting you if it discovers any signs of fraudulent activity.
It can search for:
- Up to twelve credit cards or debit cards
- Up to six bank account numbers (which is the most offered by any agency)
- Your National Insurance number
- Your driver’s licence
- Up to six email addresses
- Up to six telephone numbers
Equifax Social Scan
Equifax note that the Social Scan searches around a thousand social media sites for your personal details, letting you know how at-risk you are of identity theft based on how exposed you are on social media.
Usefully, the Social Scan feature identifies any accounts that you may have opened in the past and have since forgotten about, allowing you to close them down to reduce your online exposure and the amount of personal details you share online.
Each credit reference agency uses a different scoring scale, so a good credit score for Equifax is not always the same as a good Experian or Noddle credit score. It’s absolutely possible to receive an ‘Excellent’ credit score from one agency and a ‘Fair’ score from another, because there is no universal credit score, so you should always check your report with more than one company.
Also, if you have a maximum Noddle score (710), you aren’t necessarily going to have full marks with Experian (999) or Equifax (700), because they each use slightly different information to calculate their rating.
The maximum Equifax credit score is 700, so the closer your score is to that number, the better your chances are of being accepted for credit. The average credit score in the UK, according to Equifax and its scoring system, is 380.
Scores are distributed into five categories and they all represent a varying likelihood of being eligible for credit. Here is the Equifax credit score range:
- Excellent (466-700): Likely to get the best credit card deals, but no guarantee.
- Good (420-465): Likely to be accepted for credit, but may not always get best rates.
- Fair (380-419): May or may not be accepted, depends largely on the lender.
- Poor (280-379): Might not be accepted for credit cards, but if you get one, likely to pay higher interest rate.
- Very poor (0-279): Likely to be declined, but no guarantee. Some services offer help to people with poor credit.
Remember, if your credit score is ‘Poor’, or even ‘Very Poor’, it doesn’t have to stay that way forever. Your Equifax credit score can increase and decrease in accordance with your financial decisions or tendencies, so you can always improve upon your score if you’re unhappy with it.
As we mentioned previously, the Equifax cyber attack (or Equifax data breach) was a pretty substantial disaster for the credit reference agency, because customers need to sense a strong level of security when they’re handing over such sensitive personal details to a company who hold information about their finances.
As a result of the breach, millions of people around the world had their personal details stolen, but the UK was one of the least affected countries. However, it’s estimated that around 300,000 people in the UK had their data exposed, which was bound to leave future consumers slightly concerned about using Equifax.
Equifax states that it has made significant changes since then, and is now safer than ever. Its products and services are highly useful to those looking to make better financial decisions by having an insight into how they’re viewed in the eyes of lenders, but there are certainly people out there who were less than impressed with the company.
If you are an existing user wondering how to cancel your Equifax membership, there are a few ways you could do so.
You can cancel your Equifax membership online by logging in, clicking the ‘Profile’ tab and then heading to ‘Manage Billing’. From there, it’s pretty straightforward to navigate. If you get into difficulty doing so online, or you simply want to cancel over the phone out of preference, the Equifax contact number is found in the “Member Centre” when you log in.
Here’s how some leading consumer review websites rated Equifax, on average:
|Review company||Rating (out of 5)|
|Smart Money People||2|
There isn’t a complete Equifax app available on Android or Apple mobile phones at the moment, but there is a ‘Lock & Alert’ Equifax app which was developed by the company to allow you to control who has access to your Equifax credit report.
The app enables you to lock and unlock your credit report as you please, with the exception of agencies regulated by the government.
Equifax does a satisfactory job of providing users with a wide range of useful services, including a basic credit score and an in-depth credit report, as well as its unique Social Scan feature and the handy WebDetect with alerts.
Although it seems to have some fundamental issues (as outlined by its consumer reviews), this is a cheaper alternative to Experian and a slightly more detailed version of the free credit score you receive with Noddle – perhaps serving as a middle ground for users who want a certain level of detail, but not at the price of Experian at £14.99 per month.