We all know that having a good credit score can help you secure a loan, get approved for a credit card, and even rent an apartment. But who can access your credit report, and who can’t?
Not everyone can access your credit report, and for good reason. There is a ton of identifying information in there. In the wrong hands, someone could use your credit report to steal your identity.
Thankfully, the Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines who can and cannot view your credit report.
Here are the basics.
Usually, You Must Give Permission for Someone to Access Your Credit Report
Most of the time, you need to give your permission for someone to access your credit report. In the case of credit cards, for example, you give the credit card company permission to pull your credit report when you apply for a card. However, in the case of court orders, collection agencies and government agencies, your permission may not be required.
In addition to credit card companies, banks and mortgage lenders can also access your credit score when you apply for a mortgage. The primary purpose of your credit report, after all, is so lenders can determine whether you are more or less likely to default on a loan.
Credit checks are standard when you apply for a rental property. Similarly to lenders, a landlord wants to be reassured that you’ll pay rent on time every month, and your credit report can be a fairly accurate indicator of that.
Your prospective landlord will also be looking to see if you have had any past evictions, which would show up under the “public records” section of your credit report (if you have ever been evicted in the last 7 years).
Employers must get your written permission before pulling your credit report. Additionally, if a prospective employer decides not to hire you based on information in your credit report, they must let you know the reason for making their choice.
While most employers won’t request your credit report before hiring you, it’s becoming more common. Jobs in the financial sector as well as government jobs are perhaps the most common industries where employers may ask to pull your credit report.
A collection agency or debt collector can request your credit report without your permission – if they are having trouble locating you. This is because your credit report will list your most recent addresses.
You can request your own credit report
Knowing what’s on your credit report is important (there could be errors that you are unaware of that are hurting your credit). By law, you are entitled to one free credit report per year. Use this website to get your free annual credit report.