In the digital age of today, most people want to do all they can to maintain their privacy however they can. If you’re like so many other Americans, then that means you don’t talk about your credit score or report – period. You aren’t sharing it with your friends, family members, coworkers, closest confidant, and so forth. Your credit score is just between you, the credit reporting companies that come up with the score, and the few parties you’ll share it with, like lenders.
Or, is it?
You might be surprised to find that your credit score isn’t exactly under a metaphorical lock and key. If anything, it is sitting in a folder on top of a desk, and random people can walk up and ask to open it.
Here is a short list of groups who are the most likely to access your credit report:
- “Uncle Sam”: First things first, you should know that the government can get a look at your credit score whenever it wants. However, it probably won’t have any interest in doing so unless you’re being investigated for some form of tax fraud.
- Creditors: Next and not surprisingly, creditors are able to see your credit report. They have perhaps the most legitimate reason to see it out of any party on this list. Before they approve your new credit card account or loan, they have to see how you’ve handled credit responsibilities so far.
- Debt collection companies: Annoyingly, a debt collection company that has purchased your debt can also try to access your credit score. Collection agencies often say they want to see the report so they can decide if pursuing your debt is worth it, but it feels more like an invasion of privacy to the individual – and could arguably be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Debt collection groups will likely chase down any debt it can, regardless of any credit score.
- Employment providers: Did you know that your employer can actually request to see your credit score if it is related to your job position? For example, they want someone financially responsible in charge of their spending and record books. Your credit score can give them useful information to make their judgement. You must give them express written permission to access your credit score, though. Without it, your boss could be violating your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
- Financial institutions: Both banks and private companies that provide financial loans can look at your credit score to determine if you should be approved for a loan. If you’ve gotten a student loan before, then your report has very likely been accessed by one such group.
- Insurers: A company selling you car, home, or life insurance can access your credit score, gauging it as a way of setting your overall insurance rate. If you have a low credit score and a history of missing payments, for example, then the insurer will give you a higher rate – or just refuse to make a sale to you altogether.
- Landlords: In some situations, even a landlord may be able to see your credit score once you apply to live at their property. You should be notified of the intent of seeing your credit score, though, as well as sign off on its approval.
The common thread among these groups and those unlisted is that no matter who wants to access your credit score, they need to have a legitimate, legal reason for doing so. If a company snoops into your credit report without due cause and without noticing you, it could constitute a FCRA violation, or an infraction of one of several other federal acts that protect your rights as a consumer.
Think a company wrongly looked at, sold, or shared your credit score? Call (312) 313-1613 to speak with am FCRA and FDCPA attorney from Atlas Consumer Law in Chicago. Our law firm can help you understand and stand up for your rights!