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Who Can Access My Credit Report?
You probably know by now that your credit score is an important financial indicator used by a number of entities to decide upon your trustworthiness and creditworthiness for certain loans, apartment rentals, and in some cases, even for a particular job. Because this summary of your financial history can have such a significant impact on your life, it’s
important know who can see this report and when.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was signed into law to clearly identify who can access your credit report and for what reasons. The following people generally are permitted to access your credit report under certain conditions.
- Creditors or potential creditors for loans, mortgages, credit cards, or other financial instruments
- Utility companies
- Potential employers
- Insurance companies
- Collection agencies
- Government agencies
- Organizations considering an application for a government license or benefit that requires a financial status inquiry
- Child support agencies
- Judgment creditors
- Any other entity with a court order (although this is very rarely granted and not for divorce, child custody, immigration, criminal prosecutions, or other legal proceedings)
When Can They Access My Credit Report?
While there are many people who can potentially access your credit report, they don’t have free rein to look at it whenever they want. The FCRA states that a company must have a legitimate reason to view your credit report at any time. Generally, this requires your written permission or a specific action by you that legally triggers an inquiry into your credit history. While the only time a specific signature for permission is required when potential employers to start a credit inquiry, you often will be notified before a credit inquiry is made for non-collection actions. The following reasons are listed in the FCRA as permissible times to access a credit report:
- For a potential creditor to assess the risk in offering a requested loan, line of credit, or insurance polity
- When a firm offer of credit or insurance is extended regardless of your initiation
- For a potential investor to assess the risk of a current obligation
- When managing the risk of current credit or insurance accounts
- During collections proceedings relation to a delinquent credit account
- In relation to certain business transactions initiated by you
- In response to a court order or a subpoena
- To make a child support determination
- In response to your application for a license or benefit granted by the government that requires financial inquiry
- For employment purposes (only with your written permission)
- Any time you give written instructions for its release
Accessing a credit report for any other reasons is illegal under the FCRA. Any organization or person who looks at your credit report for invalid reasons or under false pretenses can be fined and jailed.
If you believe that your credit report was accessed for an invalid reason, you have the right to take action against them, especially since a high number of inquiries can hurt your credit score. If you have concerns that your credit report has been used inappropriately, contact us at Luftman, Heck & Associates by calling (888) 726-3181 for a free consultation today to see how we can help.