Whether you're just learning about your credit score or have been keeping track of your credit for years, you may feel like you don't even know what questions to ask. One aspect you may have concerns about, no matter your comfort with credit or finances, is keeping your information on your credit report safe. Is it exclusive to lenders or are the contents of your report shared more widely?
Your credit report is an important document containing sensitive information, so it's important to know who's able to look at it. In this article, you will learn about:
- Who can request your credit report
- Who can't see your credit report
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) rights
- Why your credit report is important
- How to access your credit report
Who can request your credit report?
When you make financial decisions such as taking out a mortgage or car loan, you will likely have your credit checked by the potential lender. This is because a lender will want to better understand your financial risk and determine your creditworthiness. Having your credit checked can help a lender approve a loan, calculate your annual percentage rates (APRs), credit limits and more.
Others who may request your credit report may do so to determine your eligibility to receive credit cards, insurance and more. Individuals and entities who can request to see your credit report include:
- Lenders (such as mortgage lenders)
- Credit card issuers
- Home or car insurance companies
- Utility service providers
Who can't see your credit report?
Individuals and businesses who do not have a legitimate legal reason or explicit permission cannot access your credit report. This list includes:
- The general public
- Family members (even if you're married and share accounts)
Your FCRA rights regarding credit reports
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a U.S. law that helps keep consumers' credit information (such as files kept by the credit bureaus) accurate and private. There are certain regulations that any credit reporting agency — such as Experian™, Equifax® and TransUnion® — must follow when collecting or sharing consumer report information.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, your FCRA rights regarding credit reports include, but are not limited to:
- The right to know what's in the report
- The right to be made aware if information in a credit report is being used against you
- The right to ask for your credit score
- Additionally, the list of those who can view your report is limited to those with a legal/valid need (for example, a creditor, issuer, employer or landlord)
Why your credit report is important
Your credit report contains your personal information, your credit history, including payment history, and public records such as bankruptcies, to help lenders understand your creditworthiness, set credit limits and determine interest rates, and evaluate the financial risk you may pose.
For example, if you notice an error on your credit report (such as an inaccurate negative remark) or suspicious activity (which could indicate potential fraud), you can take proactive steps to help protect your credit score.
One way you can do this is by enrolling in Chase Credit Journey®. Once you sign up, you can get a free VantageScore® 3.0 and a credit report provided by Experian. You can also enroll in credit and identity monitoring alerts to help you stay informed about your credit and changes to it.
How to access your credit report
Not only can you access your credit report by enrolling in Credit Journey®, you can also access your credit report through annualcreditreport.com, where you can request one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).
To generate your report, you will likely need to enter in your personal information (such as your address and Social Security number) and answer some security questions to confirm your identity.
Your credit report is a helpful document that provides crucial insights into your credit activity and is particularly useful when approving mortgages, loans or issuing credit cards, but also has other uses like determining your eligibility for renting an apartment. Because your report contains sensitive information, it's important to monitor your credit report so you can correct or prevent suspicious activity that could put your credit score at risk.
Using free online tools like Credit Journey will empower you to monitor your credit and take action when needed to help keep your credit score and information safe.