Monday, 18 May 2015

Who Has Access to Your Credit Profile?

In 1971, the government passed an act referred to as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to regulate who has access to credit profiles, and how inaccurate information can be removed from a credit report. This act was established to regulate credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, in order to protect consumers’ privacy rights. This bill was later revised in 1997 to provide even more protection to the consumer.  The FCRA act clearly lays out who specifically can obtain access to a credit profile and how each person is notified about who has gained access to their profile.

According to the FCRA act, only those who have a “legitimate business” need can view a credit profile. This may include lenders, insurance agencies, collection agencies, financial institutions, landlords, credit card companies, and current or potential employers. This means that your neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family members cannot gain access to your credit report without having a legitimate business reason. Every time one of these companies accesses your account, their information along with the date your credit profile was accesses will be listed on your credit report. These inquiries are referred to as hard inquiries and it is required by law that this information be published on your credit report.

Other companies, such as those who send you a pre-approved credit card notice, can also gain access to portions of your credit profile. This type of requiry is referred to as a soft inquiry and only grants these companies access to your name and address. No other information is provided to them. These requests are not listed on your credit report and you will not be provided with any information about these companies or be notified that they accessed your profile.

Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACT), you also have access to your own credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report from each credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, one time every year. Although you are granted access to your entire credit report, this type of inquiry is considered a soft inquiry and is therefore not listed on your credit report.
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