Who can get a copy of your credit report: Part 1

Knowing your rights can help you avoid identity theft and protect your privacy.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides specific details about who can access your credit report. The information starts on page 12 of the FCRA in section § 604. Permissible purposes of consumer reports [15 U.S.C. § 1681b].

Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, with Rutgers Cooperative Extension says a credit report is a summary of someone’s history of paying debts and other bills. It is prepared by credit reporting agencies (a.k.a., credit bureaus) and used to make business decisions by those who have a legitimate need for the information (e.g., creditors, insurers, employers, and landlords). The Federal Trade Commission reports that nationwide credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for loans and credit cards, insurance, employment, or renting a home or apartment.

Generally any consumer reporting agency can furnish a consumer’s credit report under the following circumstances:

  1. If it is in response to the order of a court or a subpoena issued in connection with proceedings before a Federal grand jury.
  2. If the consumer provided written permission.

But Mike Krauch of Michigan State University Extension says, “This is where it starts to get tricky.” Your credit report can also be given to a person whom the credit reporting agency has reason to believe:

  • Intends to use the information with a credit transaction or involves giving credit to or reviewing or collecting on an account of the consumer
  • Intends to use the information for employment purposes
  • Intends to use the information in the process of underwriting of insurance
  • Intends to use the information to determine eligibility for a license or other benefit granted by the governmental where it’s required by law to consider an applicant’s financial responsibility or status
  • Intends to use the information to determine if a consumer is a good credit risk (meaning he/she will pay their bills)
  • Has a need for the information in connection with a business transaction that is initiated by the consumer or to review an account to determine whether the consumer continues to meet the terms of the account
  • To executive departments and agencies in connection with the issuance of government-sponsored individually-billed travel charge cards

As you can see, there are many reasons your credit report may be accessed and the information therein used to evaluate your creditworthiness and ability to demonstrate financial responsibility. Regularly reviewing your credit report will help you identify who is accessing your credit report, when, and for what purpose.

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