Most people have probably heard that they are entitled to a free copy of their credit reports once a year from the major consumer reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
However, there may be other reports about you that you have the right to review for free. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 gives you the right to receive a free disclosure every 12 months of your reports from any “nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency,” which means any consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis relating to:
- Medical records or payments;
- Residential or tenant history;
- Check writing history;
- Employment history; or
- Insurance claims
Generally, you won’t hear about the agencies that compile and sell these specialty reports unless something negative happens: you are prevented from opening a new checking account, for example, or you are turned down when you apply to rent an apartment. But that’s the problem. Do you really want to find out one of these companies has potentially damaging information about you after the fact? Or do you want to check them out ahead of time so if there are mistakes or problems you can address them as soon as possible?
In this series I will explain who these nationwide specialty agencies are and what type of information they collect. I’ll give you instructions on how to get your free reports from each of them.
It will generally take you less than five minutes to request a copy of your file from each. I’ve done that myself with all of these agencies and found the process pretty straightforward and simple.
In the meantime if you haven’t requested your free annual report disclosures from AnnualCreditReport.com, go ahead and do that. Of all the reports you’ll request, it can be the most time-consuming, but also the most important.
Read the rest of the series on free specialty consumer reports:
Part II: Checking History Reports
Part III: Insurance Reports
Part IV: Employment Reports
Part V: Medical Reports
Part VI: Tenant / Rental History Reports
Image: Heather McLaughlin, via Flickr.com