Credit reports are a part of life, whether applying for a credit card or purchasing a home. But what about specialty consumer reports?
Many people are unaware that dozens of other types of consumer reports exist, filled with information about medical and prescription history, for example, or insurance claims. Specialty consumer reports gather data from a wide variety of sources including information provided by consumers on applications (such as an apartment lease or a wireless phone contract) as well as public documents like criminal records and marriage licenses.
The reports provide information geared for a specific industry. A truck driving company might purchase reports that detail a job applicant’s driving record and motor vehicle insurance claims while an insurer will review a report with claims filed by a homeowner to check an individual’s historic use of insurance policies. Other niche reports provide data on loan balances, information about any bounced checks, and bank account history for lenders; another company tracks consumers’ product returns and will alert large retailers for fraud prevention purposes.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”) entitles consumers to one free report per year from any nationwide credit or specialty reporting agency (plus another free report if an adverse action has been taken, or the consumer disputes an item in the report that was corrected).
Recently, consumer rights group Consumer Action focused on the issue of specialty consumer reports in an “Insider’s Guide to Specialty Consumer Reports: A Guide to Obtaining, Understanding and Managing Your Information,” complete with a directory of furnishers. Staffers went through the process of requesting their own reports to help provide information for consumers about the types of reports available and their rights to request reports or correct errors.
Access the Consumer Action guide.