It’s April Fools’ Day and often April Fools’ Day pranks rely on misinformation or a lack of information but there is nothing funny about unexpected surprised connected to your credit history. Even if you have practiced sound financial planning principles, not knowing about specialty credit reports can result in an unexpected surprise.
Many consumers in the U.S. are aware of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) and how credit scores from these reporting agencies can affect their ability to get credit but did you know that there are also smaller companies in addition to the three major credit bureaus that report on specific aspects of your financial life?
Specialty consumer reporting agencies operate much like the credit bureaus. The agencies collect information about you from a variety of sources, including:
Public records of criminal or civil cases
Your credit history
Companies with which you have an existing or prior business relationship, such as insurance companies or banks
Your medical information
Your check writing and rental history may also be included in a specialty consumer report. Privacyrights.org adds that “…most consumers are in the dark about the very existence of specialty consumer reports” and that most only learn about them after they have had an application for credit or employment denied.
Just as you are entitled to get one free credit report per year from the three major credit bureaus, you are also entitled to get information on specialty credit reports but what you get and how long it takes to get this information can vary. There isn’t just one place that gathers all of a person’s specialty reports; you must request a report from each agency separately. See Privacy.org for specific information; these agencies are only required to have a toll-free number, so you may not be able to find an easy-to-use website where you can direct your query.
Doing your best to be financially responsible and working with a Fee-Only financial advisor can help prevent your being denied credit or employment because of something in your credit history.