Credit Reports: How To Stop Unauthorized Access To Your Credit Report

Your credit report contains so many important information about your finances. The data it contains can affect a whole lot of decisions you can make either now or in the near future.

The information is so important that it can determine if you can afford a home or if you can get a precise job or not and if you’re eligible for a credit card or not.

Considering how crucial the information on a credit report is, unauthorized access to this report can lead to identity theft, and then a whole lot of crimes can be committed in your name.

Worst still, you may end up losing a lot of money down the road including your tax return.

This is why you should do everything possible within the law to stop unauthorized access to your credit report.

But before you can stop unauthorized access to your credit report, you should be aware that some organizations can have access to your reports and they are permitted by the law.

Related topics:

Learn about the 5 key factors that determines your credit score here.

If your credit score is tumbling, find out how to improve it here.

Are you just getting started about credit scores? Here’s a user-friendly guide you can use.

Credit Report: What Information Does It Contain?

Typically, your credit report contains your personal information such as:

  • Your name
  • Data about your credit accounts
  • List of credit inquiries by lenders and credit card companies
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your address
  • Public record details e.g. civil lawsuits and bankruptcies

Odds are, not all of those who requested for your credit report will see exactly the same report. Some of them may only see a tailored version that is specific to their needs or requests.

For instance, your birth year is excluded from credit reports to potential employers and employers.

Credit Report: Who is Authorized to Obtain It?

Based on the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, institutions such as a private organization or business with a permission can have access to your credit report.

This indicates that prospective lenders and creditors can have access to your credit report in order to figure out whether you’re eligible for credit and to know how to set the terms of such credit like the percentage rate you should pay annually.

However, other types of businesses and organizations may request access to your credit report too.

For instance, your insurance company, landlord etc. may decide to view your credit report to determine whether your credit history is good enough for them to rent you the space you want or approve the policy you want for your automobile or not.

Even more, a prospective employer may ask for your authorization to have access to your credit report.   

Here are other similar instances:

  • Organizations that are looking to prequalify you for insurance or credit
  • Debt collection organizations that want to collect whatever you’re owing
  • Creditors you’re currently doing business with
  • Telecom companies who want to review your credit before qualifying you as a customer
  • Utilities services providers who want to review your credit before qualifying you as a customer
  • A financial institution such as a bank where you want to open a checking account

Also, in some cases, a government agency may decide to view your credit report in response to a subpoena or a court order to ascertain if you qualify for some government benefits or licenses or even on a case that involves child support.

Credit Report: Laws That Regulate How It Is Obtained

There are several different laws that regulate credit report access. First, the federal Fair Credit Report Act is the law that controls how your credit report can be accessed.

Nonetheless, some states have also created some laws to regulate credit report access.

For example in Illinois, the state Employee Credit Privacy Act forbids employers from utilizing credit reports or histories to employ, determine pay structure, or fire employees for several different types of jobs in the state.

But there’s a limit to this law.

Organizations such as state law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, banks, debt collection companies, state and local government are exempted from the law.

Despite the law, some employers in the state that typically wouldn’t have the right to obtain your credit report may be able to obtain it if a reasonable occupational requirement is a part of the job, according to Illinois Legal Aid Online.

For instance, an employer might be permitted to access your credit report if a state or federal law mandated you as a worker to be bonded of if you’re in charge of business assets that is worth not less than $100 for each transaction.

Credit Report: How To Regulate Access To It

According to federal laws, all three key credit bureaus TransUnionEquifax, and Experian are mandated to keep a record of when your credit reports are obtained and who requested for them.

If for example, a lender requested for a copy of one of your credit reports, that request will be indicated on the report and you can see them under the inquiries section.

While a company might have a lawful reason to obtain your credit report, odds are such actions might make you nervous.

It is absolutely crucial to monitor your credit so you can easily spot an identity theft and anyone who is not authorized to access the report.

You can visit this site to obtain a copy of your credit report and it’s free.

Better still, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three key credit bureaus TransUnionEquifax, and Experian every 12 months.

Furthermore, if you have any reason to suspect that someone is trying to steal or is using your identity, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Federal Trade Commission’s website or your local law enforcement agency.

Other things you can do is to reach out to the company where the fraud was committed. This includes the company that issues your credit card to close your account in order to stop further activities.

Request For A Credit Freeze

Also, you can request for a free fraud alert and limit access to your reports by enforcing credit freeze.

Bear in mind that a credit freeze has no impact on your credit score and you can either freeze or unfreeze your report anytime and it’s absolutely free.

Even if you’ve made up your mind to freeze your credit report, you will still be eligible for a free annual credit report, you can buy insurance, open a new account, rent an apartment and apply for jobs.  

Nonetheless, the Federal Trade Commission says that if you intend to do any of the things mentioned above, you’re required to temporarily unfreeze your credit report for some time or to a specific company, institution, or organization.

According to the FCT, despite the fact that you have frozen your account, your credit report is still open to some specific organizations.

These include your current creditors and their debt collection companies, government agencies obeying a court order, administrative order or search warrants.

Once you’ve made up your mind to freeze your credit reports, here’s how to notify each of the three key credit bureaus to initiate the action:

When you reach out to each of the bureaus, be ready to provide your personal information such as your Social Security number, your name, birthdate and address etc.

Once you’re done with the submission of your freeze request, each of the three bureaus will give a PIN or password that you can use anytime you intend to unfreeze the report, according to the FTC.   

Once the freeze is initiated, your credit reports will remain that way. It will remain the same until you request for a permanent or temporary unfreezing, the FTC says.

Unfreeze Anytime!

If you make an unfreeze request by phone or via the internet, whatever credit bureau you reach out to will unfreeze the said account within an hour.

But if you make a request via mail, your credit reports will be unfrozen within the next three business days after the bureau received your mail.

Conclusion

You shouldn’t wait until someone, a group or an organization have unauthorized access to your account before taking necessary actions. By then it might be too late!

Identity thieves are all around everywhere. They use different sophisticated technologies and software to steal people’s identity. Also, they are on the lookout for how to gain unauthorized access to credit reports. They use for several different criminal activities.

You should play smarter. Be several miles ahead of those criminals. Freeze unauthorized access to your reports to keep your financial data and identity safe!

Williams Oleije

Williams Oleije

Williams Oleije is an Inbound Marketer, and a pop culture enthusiast. He's an avid researcher about how digital media is transforming marketing in several industries.

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