<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/creditcards.png”>These days, you don’t usually hear much news about the big three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. They’re always there whenever you need to put a freeze on your credit after identity theft, or if you need to conduct a credit check on someone, but other than that, they’re fairly dull, boring entities in my opinion.
With that said, Equifax is changing that with a shiny new mobile app called Equifax Mobile. About half of the application is intended for customers who have an Equifax account and desire instant access to personal credit information, the other half of the application doesn’t require an account at all. It’s actually a standalone feature that you can use to check out the level of debt, average mortgage payments and even levels of debt fraud in your local area.
We’ve covered a lot about debt here at MUO – from the Creditable web app that helps you manage your credit, to three great blogs that help you become credit educated. This useful mobile app is available for both Android and iPhone, and it’s perfect for real estate agents, house hunters, journalists, academics and more. The data is pulled straight out of the Equifax credit database. I’d imagine there would be some privacy considerations involved, but for the time being, no one has complained.
Equifax Lets You See The Community Credit Standing
Once you install the application to your phone, you’ll see two buttons – Equifax Places and Member Log In. The free section of this app is Equifax Places.
The first thing you’ll see when you click on Equifax Places is the default view of local average debt levels. You’ll see a map of debt averages per town, and even in a few cases a few averages per town. I was pretty shocked to see some of the debt levels in my local area. Keep in mind that the default view includes things like mortgages, car loans and credit card loans all under the umbrella of “average debt.”
To change this setting, just touch the “Change” button. You can fine-tune what types of debt are displayed on the map.
I tried changing to “Average Mortgage Payment” to see what most people are paying for their mortgages around here. I discovered that everyone else pays a lot less than we do! Then again, this is an aggregate of everything from new homes to old homes as well as one bedroom shacks to luxurious mansions. So, take the numbers with a grain of salt.
If you’re done sifting through the local financial health of your community, you can move on to the level of financial unhealthy behaviors by going back to the menu and choosing credit fraud. Fraud includes improperly filling out loan applications in order to secure credit. I expected to find lots of fraud in the local low-income community, but was pleasantly surprised to see fairly low levels throughout the area.
You can enter in any city and zip code to see the map of debt and credit health for any community in the United States. I checked the local city here, Portland, and learned that Portland residents are pretty healthy in terms of credit applications. Surprisingly, one of the wealthiest communities on the coast – Falmouth – had high levels of credit fraud. Interesting!
You can filter the credit fraud display by a number of demographics like Age, Gender, Income or Credit Score.
This innocent-looking application is actually an impressive window into the private financial information of entire communities. It collects the individual credit worthiness of credit customers, and accumulates it all into an anonymous, but highly informative snapshot of what the area debt situation looks like.
Credit health tells you a lot about people, and it tells you a lot about a community. When you’re house hunting, starting a business or looking for a good place to rent, this information can be very helpful. That isn’t to say that people with poor credit are bad, but that communities that have a lot of people with poor credit, probably have difficulty collecting taxes and paying for important things like good roads and schools.
Give Equifax Mobile a try. Did you learn anything new about your neighbors? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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