We often hear that the higher your credit score is the more credit you can obtain, and the lower your interest rate will be while the lower your credit score is the higher your interest rate will be. But who has access to your report and who protects your privacy?
Many Americans consider their credit information to be private information, and it should be. The amount of money you owe or how much you spend doesn’t need to be available to the general public or even to companies with whom you no longer have a relationship. As a consumer you are entitled to protection of that information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Because of the FCRA, not everyone who wants to view your credit report can, and to a great extent, your permission is required.
If you apply for credit or discuss credit terms with a potential credit grantor, or an insurance company then that company does have the right to check your credit report. In addition, once you have established a credit relationship with a company, they are entitled to routinely check your report to assure that you maintain financial health while your account is open. When you check your own credit report you will see a couple of different views;
- Part of the information provided when you check your report is the name of any person or company that gained access to your report and the dates when they did it.
- An actual application for credit will show up as a “Regular Inquiry” and the report will notify you that such inquiries are also reviewed by other creditors and may remain on your report for up to two (2) years.
- Regular inquiries can actually lower your score. The more applications for credit you complete in a short period of time, the more it can harm your score.
- The other kind of inquiry is called an “Account Review.” These inquiries are typically performed by your current creditors, and the inquiries are neither seen by anyone else nor do they affect your score.
Still, an inquiry into your report is an invasion of privacy, and no person or company that does not have the required permission should be looking at your report. If an unpermitted inquiry was made on your report, you have rights under the FCRA to recover any damage caused by the invasion of your privacy or if the lowering of your credit score causes any loss of credit. In addition, the FCRA provides that if a consumer is successful in bringing a claim under this law, not only could you be entitled to compensation for these damages, but your attorneys’ fees and costs are to be paid by the offending party.
Larry SmithConsumer Rights Attorney at SmithMarco, P.C.Larry P. Smith is a consumer attorney and the founder and Managing Partner at SmithMarco, P.C. He has tried dozens of consumer rights cases to verdict and has arbitrated over 700 cases. Additionally, he has amicably resolved over 3,000 consumer fraud, Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases via settlement. Mr. Smith has been a guest on multiple radio outlets including WLS and WGN in Chicago providing consumer advice. Mr. Smith also provides leadership and delivers lectures to the National Association of Consumer Advocates, The National Consumer Law Center, and the Chicago Bar Association. Latest posts by Larry Smith (see all)
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