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What does your credit card company have in common with your bank and insurance companies?
Each reports information about you to a repository, or uses information from such a repository to evaluate you — or both.
Consumer reporting companies maintain such repositories. Thanks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you can learn everything you need to know about these companies and the data they collect and share from a single cheat sheet: “List of consumer reporting companies,” which the federal agency just updated for 2018.
The information in consumer reports can impact most every aspect of your finances. The CFPB explains:
“Consumer reporting companies collect information and provide reports to other companies about you. These companies use these reports to inform decisions about providing you with credit, employment, residential rental housing, insurance, and in other decision making situations.”
So, you need to know what’s in your consumer reports. That information can help you with everything from understanding why you were charged a higher insurance rate than expected, to determining whether you’re a victim of identity theft.
We explain this further in stories like:
- “2 Ways Insurers Learn About Your Past — and How It Can Cost You“
- “How to Discover If Crooks Have Opened Bank Accounts in Your Name“
Know your rights with consumer reporting companies
The CFPB stresses that you have the legal right to:
- Obtain a copy of your consumer reports. Consumer reporting companies are required to give you the information in your reports — if you request it. They can charge no more than $12 for reports requested in 2018, although many must provide them for free.
- Dispute inaccuracies in your consumer reports. This is critical to rectifying errors that may cost you money or that resulted from identity theft.
How to use the consumer reporting company list
The CFPB’s list of consumer reporting companies names these companies, grouped by type. For example, one type is credit reporting companies, which include Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Your credit history is hardly the only thing a consumer reporting company tracks, though. There are companies that track things such as your checking account history, your insurance coverage and losses, and your medical conditions. The CFPB’s list tells you exactly what kind of data a company tracks.
The list also includes contact information for requesting a report from — or disputing an error with — a company. It also specifies the circumstances under which you can get a report for free.
What’s your take on consumer reporting companies? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.