What does your credit card company have in common with your bank and insurance company?
Each reports information about you to a repository, or uses information from such a repository to evaluate you — or both.
Consumer reporting companies maintain these 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 at the federal agency’s website: the “List of consumer reporting companies,” which the CFPB recently updated for 2019.
The information in consumer reports can impact almost 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 $12.50 for reports requested in 2019, 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 companies list
The CFPB’s list of consumer reporting companies names these businesses, grouped by type. There are companies that track such things as your checking account history, your insurance coverage and losses, and your medical conditions and drug purchase history.
The list also tells you exactly what kinds of data a company tracks.
Most importantly, the list 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.