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What Does That Mean? A Guide to Equifax Credit Report Terminology

Reading time: 5 minutes

Highlights:

  • Some terms on your Equifax credit report may be unfamiliar to you
  • Here is a guide to definitions of terms you may see on Equifax credit reports
  • Regularly checking your credit reports can help ensure your information is accurate and complete

Understanding the details of your credit reports is important, but sometimes you may not understand some of the terms used. We’ve defined some terms you may find when checking your Equifax credit report

  • Account Age: The length of time a credit account has been open. When you apply for credit, some lenders may look at the age of the oldest account on your credit reports to see the length of your credit history. For instance, the age of your oldest account might be 12 years, with the average age of your accounts at 8 years.  
  • Account Status: An indicator of whether a credit account is open or closed and your payment behavior at the time of the last update reported by the lender or creditor. Status descriptions may include “pays or paid as agreed,” or “account included in bankruptcy” or “collection account,” for instance, as well as whether the account is not being paid as agreed.  
  • Balance: The amount you owe on an account at the time of the last update reported by the lender or creditor.  This may differ from the current balance on your account, depending on when a lender or creditor reports to credit bureaus. 
  • Bankruptcy Filing Date: The date a bankruptcy petition was filed (if you have a bankruptcy public record on your credit file).
  • Charge-Off: An account that is charged off means the lender or creditor has written the account off as a loss due to lack of payment, and the account is closed to future charges. It may then be sold to a debt buyer who will then attempt to collect the outstanding amount from you.
  • Collection account: If you fall behind on payments, after a period of time the lender or creditor may transfer your account to a collection agency. The collection agency will then attempt to collect the debt from you, and the account will show on your credit reports as a collection account. 
  • Credit Limit: The amount of credit extended to you to spend. Credit limit applies to revolving accounts such as credit cards, retail store cards, personal lines of credit or home equity lines of credit. Sometimes you may see a summary of credit limits; for instance, if you have two credit cards with a $5,000 credit limit each, your total combined credit limit is $10,000.
  • Good Standing: An account that is paid off or is being paid as agreed at the time of the last update reported by the lender or creditor.
  • Inquiries: Requests for a copy of your Equifax credit report. When you apply for credit, a potential lender or creditor will generally access one or more of your credit reports to help inform its decision whether or not to extend you credit. This type of inquiry is generally considered a “hard” inquiry and is visible to anyone who obtains a copy of the credit report that was accessed. Hard inquiries can also impact credit scores. "Soft" inquiries are not shown to potential lenders or creditors.  They are only shown to you when you get a copy of your report. One example of a soft inquiry is a promotional inquiry that is posted when your credit file is accessed in connection with a pre-screened offer of credit or insurance. Another example might be when you check your own credit reports. Soft inquiries do not impact credit scores.
  • Installment Account: A type of credit account which is repayable in installments, usually in set monthly amounts. The loan is considered closed when repaid in full.  An example of an installment account would be an auto loan or a student loan.
  • Original Creditor: If your account is turned over to a collection agency or sold to a debt buyer, they will report the name of the original creditor or lender. The purpose of reporting the original creditor name is to help you identify the source of accounts that appears on your reports.  As an example, if your account is turned over to a collection agency, the original creditor would be the company you opened the account with. 
  • Payment Responsibility or “Whose Account”: This shows whether the account is an individual account (only you are responsible for repayment), a joint account (you and other[s] are jointly responsible for repayment), or if you are an authorized user on an account (you are not responsible for repayment).
  • Promotional Block: A promotional block on your credit reports means you’ve opted out of receiving pre-screened offers of credit or insurance. 
  • Revolving Account: An account that establishes a maximum credit limit for a consumer, such as a credit card. A balance can be carried over from month to month and may incur interest. Payment amounts are based on the outstanding balance amount.

When reviewing your credit reports, always double-check that the information is up to date so that lenders are getting an accurate picture of your credit situation. If you see something that you believe is inaccurate or incomplete, you may want to contact the lender or creditor directly to straighten it out. You can also file a dispute for free with any of the three nationwide credit bureaus. Visit our dispute page to learn how to file a dispute with Equifax.  

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