Thursday, March 31, 2011

How Private Is My Credit Report Data And Who Can See It?

First 4 digits of a credit cardImage via WikipediaCredit bureaus get information from your creditors, such as a bank, credit card issuer, or auto finance company. They also get information about you from public records, such as property or court records. Each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, so the information in one credit bureau's report may not be the same as the information in another credit bureau's report.

Because credit reports contain sensitive personal information, access to them is limited. Credit bureaus can provide credit reports only to




  • lenders from whom you are seeking credit;
  • lenders that have granted you credit;
  • telephone, cell phone, and utility companies that may provide services to you;
  • your employer or prospective employer, but only if you agree;
  • insurance companies that have issued or may issue an insurance policy for you;
  • government agencies reviewing your financial status for government benefits; and
  • anyone else with a legitimate business need for the information, such as a potential landlord or a bank at which you are opening a checking account.

Credit bureaus also furnish reports if required by court orders or federal grand jury subpoenas. Upon your written request, they will also issue your report to a third party.

But what if the credit report data has mistakes in it?

If you are denied credit, insurance, or employment--or some other adverse action is taken against you, such as lowering your credit limit on credit card account--because of information in your credit report, the lender, insurance company, or employer must notify you and provide you with the name, address, and phone number of the credit bureau that provided the credit report used to make the decision. You can get a free credit report from this credit bureau if you request it within sixty days after receiving the notice. This free report is in addition to your annual free report.

In addition, lenders may use a credit report to set the terms of credit they offer you. If a lender offers you terms less favorable (for example, a higher rate) than the terms offered to consumers with better credit histories based on the information in your credit report, the lender may give you a notice with information about the credit bureau that provided the credit report used to make the decision. Again, you can get a free credit report (in addition to your annual free report) from this credit bureau if you request it within sixty days after receiving the notice.

If you receive one of these notices, it's a good idea to get your free credit report and review the information in it right away. If you think your credit report contains inaccurate or incomplete information, to try to resolve the issue.



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