You know that, when you are applying for a credit card or car loan, a potential lender will pull your credit. But, who else is looking at your credit report? You may be surprised – and a little frightened.
Lenders. Of course, anyone you are asking to extend you credit or lend you money is likely to rely heavily on credit reporting to make informed lending decisions. You will have generally given them consent in the forms or application you completed, though, by law, they don’t need your permission. Extension of credit and many business transaction initiated by a consumer are “permissible purposes” under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which do not require consumer consent (except for employment purposes).
Landlords. Landlords will also typically review your credit report. They are essentially extending you credit by renting you an apartment. This is why using a rent payment reporting service like WIlliamPaid’s is a great idea – it shows your landlord your responsibility with respect to your rental payments even if your credit file isn’t strong.
Employers. Many employers use credit reports as a screening tool to evaluate potential employees. Reviewing a potential employee’s credit file can help an employer evaluate responsibility, accountability and honesty. Employers also use credit checks to ferret out fraud potential. Lastly, employers can use the reports to verify other information provided by the potential employee.
You must consent to allow an employer to obtain your credit file (the consent is usually contained in the application you complete). In addition, there are specific rules relating to the use of credit histories as a basis for rejecting an applicant.
Insurance Companies. Many insurance companies will use a credit report to establish an insured’s rates. Lower credit scores may result in higher premiums. Insurance companies do not have to provide notice that they are pulling your credit. Again, underwriting insurance is a permissible purpose, not requiring your consent.
Utility Companies. Many utilities will review a customer’s credit history to determine whether a security deposit will be required. Those with a poor credit file may end up having to come out of pocket before they can get their utilities hooked up.
Rental Car Companies. Yes, some rental car companies will pull your credit – after all, they are giving you a car. Again, because this is a permissible purpose under the FCRA, consent is not required.
Debt Collectors. Need we say more?
Of course, the list can go on, but these are the usual suspects. Keep in mind that having your credit reviewed frequently can actually lower your credit score.
Next week, we’ll discuss what all of these people are looking for.