Equifax Company History Timeline

(418 Jobs)

On March 22, 1899, the company opened for business.

Crossing the pond, the oldest of today’s three major credit reporting agencies in the United States – the Retail Credit Company – is established in 1899, compiling an extensive list of creditworthy customers.

Equifax has come a long way since its founding in 1899 by a pair of Tennessee-based grocers.


In June 1901 Retail Credit branched out into another industry, as it began providing so-called "moral hazard" information on potential policyholders to the Equitable Life Assurance Society.

Expanded into Insurance-Related Business in 1901

In the fall of 1901, the company dispatched a salesman to the Northeast to drum up business in the home offices of the nation's largest insurance companies.


Woolford relied on a large number of correspondents, primarily lawyers and merchants in small towns across the Southeast, to fill out reports on people trying to get insurance. As a result of its growing insurance business, Guy Woolford opened a second company office in Dallas, Texas, in March 1902.


In April 1903 Retail Credit closed its Augusta office, after clearly noting signs that the branch would not become profitable.


In 1904 a fourth office was opened in Kansas City, Missouri.


For instance, in 1908 the company began issuing reports for automobile liability insurers.


By 1913 Retail Credit had developed a special form for automobile insurance, to be completed by the investigator.


By 1915 Retail Credit's earliest work compiling lists of good and bad credit risks in the Atlanta area had dwindled to almost nothing.


In 1920, however, Retail Credit's insurance business suffered a serious blow when a consortium of insurance companies formed the American Service Bureau to provide members with investigative reports of the sort that Retail Credit supplied.

By 1920, the company had offices throughout the United States and Canada.


The increased competition resulted in a serious slump in Retail Credit's life insurance and credit reporting activities in 1921.


In 1923 Retail Credit spun off local consumer credit rating operations and formed a new corporation, Credit Service Exchange.


In March 1930 Retail Credit established the Georgia Credit Exchange to provide services in cities across the state.


In 1934 Retail Credit purchased a Brooklyn credit agency, Retailers Commercial Agency, Inc.


By 1937 nearly three quarters of all the company's inspection forms were being filled out by full-time investigators, operating out of 96 Retail Credit offices in cities across North America.


In 1941, when the war began for the United States, the company was providing 7.5 million reports a year; many of its inspectors, however, were drafted into the military and other employees left the enterprise to engage in war-related endeavors.


By 1944 the volume of reports produced had sunk to six million.


In 1964, The United States Association of Credit Bureaus studies the application of computer technologies in credit reporting.


The company sold stock to the public for the first time in 1965.


In 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act is passed in the United States, establishing a standard legal framework for credit reporting.


Retail Credit's activities in the consumer credit business were regulated for the first time in 1971, when Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act, effective in April.


It is alleged that the hearings prompted the Retail Credit Company to change its name to Equifax in 1975 to improve its image.


Began Diversifying in 1979

In 1979 the company took a big step in that direction, acquiring Elrick & Lavidge, a Chicago firm that performed marketing surveys, and merging it into the company's Marketing Information Services subsidiary.


By 1986 the company's files covered 150 million people in 28 states.


In April 1988 the company established a marketing services division, whose first project was to develop a direct-mail program to sell home mortgages for a Midwestern insurance company.


The company's operations had already been divided into four divisions: insurance information services, its traditional strength; credit services; marketing services, the newest division; and Canadian operations, which were consolidated into one company, Equifax Canada Inc., in June 1989.

Finally, in 1989 credit bureaus introduce credit scoring, quickly becoming a standard system to measure credit in the United States


The company's purchase of Telecredit was complicated by a sizable drop in the value of Equifax stock during 1990, as investors grew concerned about the stability of the company's profits in an economic downturn.


As an Equifax executive explained in Business Week, "People see the use of this information as a privacy problem if it goes beyond credit purposes." To make amends, Equifax announced in August 1991 that it would cease using credit information to compile lists for the purposes of direct marketing.

Late in 1991, the company bought out its British partner to form Equifax Europe.

In 1991 Equifax also abandoned a planned joint database project with Lotus Development Corporation that would have made available to small businesses a wide array of demographic information at microneighborhood levels; a consumer outcry and negative media attention led to the project's demise.


With the 1993 acquisition of Integratec Inc., Equifax gained a leading provider of debt collection and other back-office services for credit card issuers and other lenders.


By 1994 Equifax had acquired three more healthcare information firms, giving it a substantial presence in claims processing.


Equifax formerly offered digital certification services, which it sold to GeoTrust in September 2001.


In October 2010, Equifax announced it was acquiring Anakam, Inc, an identity verification software company headquartered in San Diego, California, which invented and pioneered SMS (text-message based) two-factor authentication.

Company Founded
Atlanta, GA
Company Headquarter
Cator Woolford,Guy Woolford,John Kallassy
Company Founders

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