When you apply for a credit card, you can be virtually assured the card issuer is pulling your credit file from one of the big three reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion or Equifax.
But what happens when you fill out an application to rent an apartment? Or apply for life insurance? Or try to write a check?
Is anyone checking up on you then?
Surprise. The answer may be yes. In all those cases, a business might be pulling a specialty report that could determine whether you get the apartment, the life insurance policy or the privilege of handing over one of your super-cute Hello Kitty checks.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a comprehensive list of all the major organizations maintaining files on you, and Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson breaks down the major categories in the video below. See what he has to say and then keep reading for links and information on how to request copies of these reports.
1. Medical reports
Your doctor may not be the only person who has a medical file on you. Several companies also maintain reports that could contain bits of your medical information.
The most commonly used medical report may be the one from MIB, an organization previously known as the Medical Information Bureau. MIB reports are used by insurance companies offering individually underwritten life, health, critical illness, disability and long-term-care insurance products.
The organization doesn’t maintain a full medical record on you but does compile data taken from insurance applications made in the past seven years. Information gleaned from MIB reports cannot be used to make coverage decisions but can be used to fact-check your applications and make sure you’re not withholding information.
For example, if you’re denied life insurance by Company A because of a pre-existing condition, the MIB file may note the condition. That makes it hard for you to conceal that information from Company B, lest you think you could get coverage by simply omitting that detail about your medical history.
You can get a copy of your MIB report free by making a request online or on the phone.
MedPoint and IntelliScript are two other medical files you should know. Both may be reporting on your prescription drug usage. You can request your IntelliScript report by calling 877-211-4816. MedPoint will take your request at 888-206-0335. However, they will only send a free report if you applied for health insurance, and the insurer requested your file.
2. Tenant reports
Just as you can’t get away from your family medical history or a pre-existing condition when applying for life insurance, you may not be able to run away from that eviction you experienced when the economy tanked.
A piece of your rental history might end up on your credit report if you’re sued for back payments, but a tenant report is more likely to show the whole picture. According to the New York State Bar Association, there are hundreds of screening agencies catering to landlords. These reports may cover these details or other information:
- Credit information such as delinquent accounts, charge-offs and collections accounts.
- Criminal records.
- Eviction records.
- Sex offender status.
- Social Security check.
- Previous address check.
Unfortunately, not all screening services will provide tenants with a copy of their report, despite the fact that the Federal Trade Commission has warned some companies they must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For example, TenantReports.com includes this information in its FAQs.
Q) My applicant is claiming discrepancies in their tenant report and would like a copy of the credit report for their reference; do I need to supply them with a copy?
A) All tenant reports requested through TenantReports.com are for our members to review to make a rental decision or new hire decision only. These reports are NOT available to distribute to the applicant. Applicants can get a free annual credit report through the Fair Credit Reporting Act once a year by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com. At this site they can dispute all discrepancies with the three bureaus and have the ability to make a permanent change to their credit report.
However, TenantReports.com provides information on its report, such as criminal records, that wouldn’t appear on a credit report. That makes their answer seem, in my personal opinion, a bit more evasive than helpful.
While not every tenant screening company is onboard with providing copies of its reports, you can request your file from these companies, among others:
3. Check writing reports
If you’re in love with your debit card and online banking, it may seem quaint to think some people still write checks. But they do. And there are some businesses that don’t want to take those people’s checks if they’ve written bad ones in the past.
Check writing reports may not only affect your ability to write checks, they could also affect your chances of opening new accounts. For example, some reports may include whether you’ve ever had a bank close your account due to insufficient funds. In that case, a different institution may decline to let you open an account there.
You may be able to request free check writing reports from these companies:
4. Insurance reports
Next up are insurance reports for property coverage such as homeowner or vehicle policies. LexisNexis and Verisk Analytics are the two major players for these reports.
The LexisNexis C.L.U.E Report comes in either an auto or personal property version. They contain seven years of data, including both claims and inquiry history. You can request one or both of the reports on the LexisNexis website.
Over at Verisk Analytics, A-Plus Property Reports cover a five-year period and include all forms of loss from burglaries to fire losses to medical payments. You can request a copy by calling 800-709-8842. There may be a small fee for the report unless an insurance company took adverse action against you because of the report (i.e,. denied you coverage because of information in the file). In that case, the form may be free as long as you file the request within 60 days of the adverse action.
5. Employment data reports
Finally, we come to employment reports. These may include this information:
- Job title.
- Employment dates.
- Disciplinary action, if publicly available.
As with tenant screening, there are dozens of companies providing pre-employment screening services. Here’s a sampling of a few of them along with links to their instructions on how to request your copy of their report:
Not every company will have a report on every employee. In some cases, a report will be available only if an employer previously requested a copy.
Specialty reports are one more way it seems that everyone and their brother is keeping tabs on you. It may be unrealistic to expect you’d be able to request all the reports available, but you should definitely be aware they exist. Then, if you get a surprise denial for insurance or an apartment, you have a place to start when it comes to determining the problem.
Have you ever had an application denied because of a specialty report? Tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.