Who has access to your credit report

Ever wonder who, besides you, has access to your credit history? According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, there must be a “permissible purpose” for someone to view your report. One of the most common reasons your credit is reviewed is because you apply for credit. Creditors may use a credit report to help them decide whether or not a person will be granted credit, what terms will be extended, interest rates offered, etc. When you complete and sign an application, you give your creditors approval to obtain your report.

Let’s review some of the many other reasons your credit may be accessed by others.

For employment purposes. Employers may view and use a modified version of your credit report. It is used to help assess an applicant’s character. Some employers use credit reports when considering promotions. You must give a prospective employer your permission and you will be asked to sign a separate document that they will be obtaining your credit report. Current employers may review your report only if you have given permission as part of your employment. The report that employers receive does not contain account numbers, your year of birth, or your spouse’s name. Employers are not permitted to ask those questions and the report does not show that information. This is done to comply with federal employment laws. Should you know there might be credit issues, it is best to be forthcoming and explain these issues to your perspective employer.

To underwrite insurance. Many insurance companies now request your permission to obtain a credit report when you apply for insurance. They consider the past payment patterns as part of their process of deciding insurance coverage. If you have questions regarding this use of your report, please contact the Department of Insurance in your state.

To issue a professional license. Organizations that grant licenses for certain professions, such as real estate agents, nurses, police officers, and some other professions that require an employee to be bonded may review your credit report.

In response to a court order or jury subpoena.  In a very few cases, the courts may request your report directly from any credit bureau. This is very rare, and few consumers are ever affected by this action.

Internal Revenue Service. The Internal Revenue Service may pull your credit report when you have a tax debt and you are offering to make payment arrangements.

For review or collection purposes. Creditors with whom you have an established relationship may periodically review your report. They may be reviewing it to offer other rates of interest or other credit products.

For more information, read the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.