A number of years ago my next-door neighbour had some major issues with credit card fraud and identity theft.
Someone had opened a bank account, and then signed up for a number of credit cards using her name, SIN, and address, and had assumed her identity. It turns out they had fraudulently charged over $20,000 to these various credit cards.
What ensued was a many month ordeal dealing with these various credit card companies to clear her credit report and expunge these charges.
What’s worse is that she was also the victim of identity theft, and as she slowly discovered the scope of fraud under her name and identity, she also uncovered a couple of months later that she was also “almost” the victim of real estate title fraud.
According to the Province of Ontario website, title fraud is “using stolen identities or forged documents to transfer a registered owner’s title to himself/herself or to someone else without the registered owner’s knowledge. The fraudster then gets a mortgage on this property and once the funds are advanced on the mortgage, he/she disappears. This is sometimes referred to as ‘mortgage fraud’.”
She opened a police report and was in constant contact with the police (more specifically the RCMP). She also hired a private investigator to help her clear her name and credit report.
As she was going through her personal nightmare, and as she recounted her daily ordeal, I became increasingly paranoid about my own personal situation and potential vulnerability, and the possibility that her problems could happen to anyone.
As a result, I signed up for a paid subscription to Equifax’s credit report services, and I’ve been a paid member for close to five-years. At $150 per year, the service isn’t inexpensive, but, I’ve been dutifully paying the fee every year, always viewing it as a form of “personal fraud” insurance. In fact, I am still a paying client five years later.
In the early years of using the Equifax product, I signed in to the platform on a monthly basis, however, over time, I’ve now scheduled a quarterly login. In addition, if anything happens to my report in the meantime, Equifax sends me an email letting me know of any problems.
Fortunately, no news has meant good news.
So, to my surprise, one of my friends advised me of a free service they’ve subscribed to from Borrowell which seems to provide essentially the same service. For free.
Figuring there must be a catch, I decided to signup for the Borrowell service in order to compare their free credit report services to my paid service from Equifax. What follows is my findings and comparison between Borrowell and Equifax.
Who is Borrowell?
Borrowell is Canada’s largest online lender offering loans to Canadians since 2014. They provide personal loans, and financial product recommendations to over 1 million Canadians, and also offer a free credit score and reporting monitoring solution.
The Borrowell free credit score is really a loss-leader to sell their other products and services, and since they’ve partnered with Equifax, I viewed it as a potential way of getting a free Equifax score.
How Do You Sign Up For Borrowell?
The account signup process was very straightforward, and within five minutes, and after providing the system with some personal credentials, I now had access to my Borrowell (Equifax) credit report.
Figuring there must be some sort of “catch”, I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of signup, and the simplicity of the dashboard. As soon as you log in, you’re presented with your credit score.
As a point of comparison, and now wanting to better understand the difference between my $150 Equifax account, and the free Borrowell credit report, I immediately signed in to my Equifax account to compare my Equifax credit score with my Borrowell free credit score.
As you can see from the initial sign in, Borrowell’s reports are powered by Equifax’s data. so in theory, the data should be exactly the same, and here’s where I found a couple of discrepancies.
For some reason, my Equifax credit score is VERY different from my Borrowell credit score.
As you can see from the two images, my Borrowell free credit score ends in a “5”, and my Equifax score ends in a “3”, but, the numbers are off by close to 40 points, and on a scale up to 900, a 40-point difference is quite significant.
Borrowell makes it very clear on their site that if any of the information is inaccurate, I should contact Equifax to clarify.
Borrowell Credit Report Dashboard
To my surprise, on the Borrowell Credit Report dashboard, I was able to view my entire credit history and report – the fact that I can gather this much information, for free, is surprising especially considering I am paying Equifax a significant fee every year so that I can monitor my credit score, history, and report.
The data on the credit report dashboard was all there … better yet, the data on the Borrowell credit report was the exact same data as found in my Equifax report.
So what exactly does Equifax offer, and why am I paying $150 per year for their service?
Equifax includes $25,000 identity theft insurance, and credit monitoring. What Equifax offers is a monthly email letting me know of any changes that occurred in my credit report in the last 30-days, and whether there have been any credit inquiries under my name in that period.
Borrowell also shares the Equifax credit inquiries data … so frankly, I’m not entirely sure why I’m paying Equifax $150 per year if I can get the same data from Borrowell.
I’m still not certain why there’s a discrepancy between my Equifax credit score and my Borrowell free credit score, but, I will continue to monitor the difference for the next few months, and if everything appears in order with Borrowell, I will cancel my Equifax account before my yearly renewal in December.
If you’re wondering, in the meantime, how to get a free Equifax credit score, then Borrowell seems to do the job.
Is Borrowell Accurate?
As it relates to the credit score, from my experience, the answer is NO. As it relates to credit history and reports, my experience has been excellent.
Is Borrowell Legitimate and is Borrowell Trustworthy?
At first glance, Borrowell does check out. The free credit score is a loss-leader to sell their other services – loans and credit cards.
Borrowell also offers something they call an AI credit coach called Molly. Molly shares tips that will help Canadians better understand and improve their credit score.
After using this service, I would definitely suggest it’s worth your time to spend the ten-minutes to sign up for this service, and then, monitor your credit score and report monthly. In fact, I will be suggesting to my children that they also sign up for the free service, especially in light of the risks I discussed at the beginning of the article.
If you want to sign up, you can from this link.