Anyone with “permissible purpose” can take a look at your credit reports. What’s permissible purpose? It’s a lengthy definition outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act – one that permits access to your credit reports for a wide range of purposes. Here’s the gist of it, the understanding of which can help during the credit repair process and beyond.
Accessing Your Credit Reports
Your credit reports may be accessed by:
- Lenders you’ve applied to for credit, including credit card companies, auto finance companies, mortgage lenders, student loan lenders, and the like
- Landlords you’ve submitted applications to
- Insurance companies you’ve submitted applications to
- Utility companies you’ve applied to set up accounts with
- Government agencies you’ve applied to for assistance
- Collection agencies attempting to collect debts from you
- Employers or potential employers, to whom you’ve given consent
- Court order or subpoena
- Anyone who you give written consent to see your credit reports
- Services you’ve given permission to monitor your credit for you
Your credit reports cannot be accessed by family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or any other individual to whom you have not given written permission.
Wondering Who’s Seen What?
You not only have a right to see who’s inquired about your credit; you have a vested interest in it. Why? Because you need to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized inquiries on your reports. That not only brings down your credit score. It could also be a sign that you are a victim of identity theft.
Thankfully, there’s no special process or requests that need to be made for you to see these inquiries. Your credit reports include them.
If and when you see inquiries on your credit reports that you don’t recognize, contact the company and ask for proof of authorization. If you’re satisfied with their response, great. (Maybe you forgot about an application you made with them.) But if you’re not convinced by what they have to say, or you don’t hear back at all, send a dispute to the appropriate credit bureau. Here’s a sample letter you can tweak for that.
How to See Your Own Credit Reports
You’re entitled to free access to your credit reports once a year. So if it’s been more than 12 months since you’ve seen them, go to AnnualCreditReport.com to see them now.