Consumer Reporting Companies, The FCRA & Your Personal Data
CFPB Identifies Consumer Reporting Companies The Public Can Hold Accountable
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) released its annual list of consumer reporting companies. The list identifies dozens of specialty reporting companies that collect and sell access to people’s data, including individuals’ finances, employment, check writing histories, or rental history records, often without their knowledge.
Using the list, individuals can exercise their right to see what information these firms have, dispute inaccuracies, and file lawsuits if the firms are violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).
Three nationwide consumer reporting companies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, allow people to check their reports for free once a week through December 2022.
Many of the specialty companies, however, charge people a fee to access this data. The list published by the CFPB allows people to see which companies provide this information for free, as well as search for those that provide specialized reporting by specific markets, including employment, tenant, insurance, and medical.
PEOPLE ARE FREQUENTLY IN THE BEST POSITION TO KNOW IF THEIR INFORMATION IS ACCURATE. IF AN INDIVIDUAL FINDS INFORMATION IN THEIR CONSUMER REPORTS THAT APPEARS TO BE INACCURATE, THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO FILE A DISPUTE AND THE CONSUMER REPORTING COMPANY IS REQUIRED TO CONDUCT A REASONABLE INVESTIGATION.
The CFPB has previously highlighted problems that consumers have reported about the three nationwide reporting companies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, not adequately responding to consumer complaints about errors.
The CFPB also issued an advisory opinion in November 2021 affirming that all consumer reporting companies, including tenant and employment screening companies, have an obligation to use reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy.
People who have a problem with credit or consumer reporting, such as tenant screening or background checks, can submit a complaint to the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
The List Of Consumer Reporting Companies
Consumer reporting companies collect information and provide reports to other companies about you. These companies use these reports to inform decisions about providing you with credit, employment, residential rental housing, insurance, and in other decision-making situations.
You have a meaningful role to play to ensure the data about you maintained by consumer reporting companies is accurate and complete.
You know your credit report is important, but the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, are not the only companies that collect information about you.
Other companies collect information and prepare consumer reports about you, and you have a right to see those reports.
TO VIEW THE LIST OF CONSUMER REPORTING COMPANIES, PLEASE CLICK 2022 LIST OF CONSUMER REPORTING COMPANIES.
The 2022 List Of Consumer Reporting Companies
This list includes the three nationwide consumer reporting companies as well as other companies that focus on certain market areas and consumer segments. Use this list to help you take advantage of your right to review the information in your consumer reports, and dispute possible inaccuracies with companies as needed. The list includes the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, and several other reporting companies that focus on creating consumer reports for certain industries.
TO VIEW THE LIST OF CONSUMER REPORTING COMPANIES IN PDF FORMAT, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Market Areas Included On The List
NATIONWIDE CONSUMER REPORTING COMPANIES- There are three big nationwide providers of consumer reports: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Their reports contain information about your payment history, how much credit you have and use, and other inquiries and information.
EMPLOYMENT SCREENING – Employment screening companies provide verification information such as credit history, employment, salary and education and professional license verification to employers and others.
TENANT SCREENING – Tenant screening companies provide reports to landlords and residential real estate management companies. If you are applying as a tenant for a residential property a tenant screening report with negative information in it, such as past due rent, could result in a rejected lease application or a lease with tough conditions.
CHECK AND BANK SCREENING – Check and bank screening companies collect and report data on checking account applications, openings, and closures as well as check screening services like check verification.
PERSONAL PROPERTY INSURANCE – Personal property insurance reporting companies collect and report information on consumers’ home, auto, and personal property.
MEDICAL – Medical consumer reporting companies share information on your medical data if you authorized the release of your medical records to an insurance company.
LOW-INCOME AND SUBPRIME – Low-income and subprime reporting companies provide consumer information to companies that market and sell products and services specifically to lower-income consumers and credit applicants with impaired credit records.
SUPPLEMENTARY REPORTS – The information that some consumer reporting companies sell is used to supplement other data, such as the credit data the nationwide consumer reporting companies sell about you. This information can include public records and ID verification data to help firms manage credit and fraud risks.
UTILITIES – These companies collect information associated with telecommunications, pay TV, and utility (electric, gas, water) services to help companies in these industries manage customer relations.
RETAIL- These companies collect information related to retail product return and exchange fraud and abuse.
GAMING – These companies share consumer data associated with check cashing settlement services to assist gaming establishments such as casinos and racetracks with risk management.
Who Can See Your Consumer Reports?
Consumer reporting companies must follow legal restrictions, but can generally provide your consumer reports and credit scores to an array of businesses, including:
- Debt buyers and collectors
- Lenders (including those that offer credit cards; home; payday; personal; title; auto – including auto leasing; student loans; security deposit financing and lease guarantees on home rentals; and buy-now-pay-later (“BNPL”) products)
- Insurance companies
- Employers, volunteer organizations, and government agencies to determine eligibility for government assistance
- Landlords and residential real estate management companies
- Banks, credit unions, payment processors, and retail stores that accept personal checks
- Companies that market and sell products and services specifically to lower-income consumers and subprime credit applicants, such as short-term lending and rent-to-own businesses
- Communications and utility companies
- Retail stores for product return fraud and abuse screening, as well as retail stores that offer financing, such as appliance and rent-to-own businesses
- Gaming casinos that extend credit to consumers and/or accept personal checks
When Should You Check A Consumer Report?
With the exception of employment screening, users of your reporting data generally DO NOT warn you in advance when they are about to take an adverse action against you based in whole or in part on your consumer report. Thus, the accuracy and completeness of your consumer reporting data is extremely important.
Check your reports regularly
It is important to review your credit reports from the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, every twelve months to ensure they are accurate and complete. This is especially important if you intend to purchase a home or car with credit, or otherwise intend to apply for credit in the future.
Check your reports before making financial decisions
If you are applying for a job, an insurance policy, or a lease, you should fact-check your background screening reports to ensure there are no errors.
Check your reports if you think you may be a victim of identity theft
Data breaches are an unfortunate reality. It is important to be aware of your options to take greater control of your consumer reporting data.
Fact-check your reports and consider blocking third-party access to your consumer reporting data through a security “freeze.”
Resources To Take Action
How to request a report
Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), ALL consumer reporting companies are required to provide you a copy of the information in your report if you request it.
You are also entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You can request a copy through AnnualCreditReport.com .
As a result of a 2019 settlement, ALL U.S. consumers may also request up to six free copies of their Equifax credit report during any twelve-month period through December 2026. These free copies will be provided to you in addition to any free reports to which you are entitled under federal law.
TO LEARN HOW TO REQUEST A REPORT, PLEASE CLICK LEARN HOW TO REQUEST A REPORT.
You have the right to dispute the information in your reports
If you find information in your consumer reports that you believe is inaccurate or incomplete, you have the legal right to dispute the report’s content with the consumer reporting company and the company that shared the information with the consumer reporting company, such as your lender.
Under the FCRA, companies must conduct a reasonable investigation of your dispute, free of charge.
For information about disputing errors, please click Learn How To Dispute An Error.
If you have complaints about your consumer reports
The CFPB handles consumer reporting complaints about report accuracy and completeness errors, credit repair services, and other consumer reporting topics. If you are dissatisfied with a company’s investigation of an earlier dispute, if you believe your consumer report was used improperly, or if you have problems getting access to your own consumer reports you may consider submitting a complaint.
Have Your Rights Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act Been Violated?
If you believe your rights under the FCRA have been violated, please contact Kehoe Law Firm, P.C. by completing the form above on the right or by sending an e-mail to [email protected] for a free, no-obligation evaluation of potential legal claims.
Kehoe Law Firm, P.C.