While consumers have been able to get a free copy of their credit reports from each of the nation’s three largest reporting bureaus, there was some information compiled by other, smaller firms to which they did not have easy access. However, a new rule from the federal consumer watchdog agency recently changed that.
Now, roughly 40 smaller companies that compile what are known as “specialty” credit reports on financial information not directly related to consumers’ credit accounts must begin providing borrowers with the data they collect once per year for a small fee, or entirely free of charge, according to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These companies compile information such as a consumer’s medical records and debt payments, rent payments, check records, employment history and even insurance claims.
The problem with these credit reporting agencies is that their information largely has not been available to consumers, but rather only to organizations or entities – such as employers, landlords, insurance providers, and utility companies, among others – the report said. As such, consumers had no ability to check if there was any information on such a document that, as with a standard credit report, could be in some way inaccurate.
However, it’s important to note that all of these companies are not, like the larger participators in the industry, required to provide these documents free of charge on an annual basis. And while there are federal laws that cap the fees at $11.50 per report, most of these companies provide the documents free of charge.
Unlike AnnualCreditReport.com, however, consumers will not have a one-stop shop to acquire these specialized documents, the report said. Instead, the CFPB compiled a list of all participating companies, along with their websites, toll-free phone numbers and how much consumers can expect to pay for the reports. If you want to check what the three major credit reporting bureaus see when they look at your file, you can also pull your free Credit Report Card, which includes an estimate of your credit score as well.
Consumers should always take the time to closely check over all their various financial documents, including their standard credit reports, bank statements, credit card bills, and so forth, to ensure that there are no markings they don’t recognize, which may have an adverse effect on some aspect of their finances.