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Who can see your Credit Report?

Anyone with a "legitimate business need" can gain access to your credit history, including:

  • Those considering granting you credit.

  • Landlords.

  • Insurance companies.

  • Employers and potential employers (but only with your consent).

  • Companies with which you have a credit account for account monitoring purposes.

  • Those considering your application for a government license or benefit if the agency is required to consider your financial status.

  • A state or local child support enforcement agency.

  • Any government agency (limited usually to your name, address, former addresses, current and former employers).

Generally, only an employer or prospective employer needs your written consent to obtain a report. An exception is Vermont where any user needs your oral or written consent. In practice, most potential creditors ask for your permission to review your report. Your permission is not required when inquiries are made in connection with a pre-approved credit offer.

How to Improve your Credit Rating?

The best way to determine if you have negative information in your credit report is to order a copy and check it carefully. For a thorough review, you should check with all three CRAs since there may be some variations in the file each CRA maintains on you. This should be done at least once a year. Because the crime of identity theft is on the rise, we recommend that you check at least one of your credit reports every four months.

Under the FACT Act you can now contact a centralized source that will include information from all three CRAs. To read more about free credit reports nationwide and connect with the centralized source, see www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/freereports/index.html.

A word of caution: Do not attempt to contact the centralized source through an Internet search for terms like "free credit report" or "free credit check." You could land on a site that sells credit reports along with fee-based credit monitoring plans and a variety of other products and services.

In addition to taking advantage of your free annual credit report, you should also check your credit report when you know it is going to be used to make important decisions, such as applying for an automobile or home loan, renting an apartment, or applying for a job. Reports should be ordered at least one to two months before you apply for credit or intend to rent. At these crucial times, you do not want to be surprised to find that your report contains negative information, especially if that information is inaccurate.

A creditor has the duty to report only accurate, complete, and updated information to a CRA. For example, if you close an account voluntarily, your creditor must report this fact in order to distinguish it from an account that is closed for nonpayment. If you disagree with a creditor's report of negative information, the creditor must put a notice of that dispute in your file before reporting to the CRA.

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