The Fair Credit Reporting Act ensures that consumers have many rights, including the right to privacy when it comes to the access of credit reports and scores. Lenders and affiliates may access your credit score, once you've granted them permission with your signature. However, institutions that you have not authorized to check into your credit are not allowed to pull your credit score.
Credit Report and Score
Three credit reporting agencies in the United States provide the bulk of consumer information: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. They compile information about your finances, public records, collection efforts against you and any other lines of credit you have open. With the information they collect, they calculate your credit score, which is intended to measure your creditworthiness. In the past, your credit score was given out only to lenders or creditors. However, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 ensures that the scores are available to consumers, too.
The FCRA protects your information by requiring that institutions obtain your permission prior to acquiring your credit score. When you apply for a loan, a personal line of credit, or checking or savings accounts from your institution, you sign an application that authorizes pulling your credit report and credit score. Without your signature, the institution cannot check your credit score as a new account applicant.
As an ongoing customer of a financial institution, the company has the continued right to pull your credit score periodically. If you have a checking or savings account at your bank, you have agreed through the initial application process to grant your bank permission to check your credit from time to time. The same is true if you have a mortgage or other loan. Banks and other lenders may also pull credit scores of debit or credit card customers as they see fit, because of their ongoing business relationships.
Each year, you are allowed one free credit report from each credit reporting agency. You can check your credit reports for inaccuracies or incorrect information, and you can correct misinformation by providing the credit reporting agency with documentation of the mistakes. You can also see who has been accessing your credit score and history. If you see that unauthorized parties have been accessing your account, you can report them to your state's attorney general office. Always read the fine print about who you are allowing to access your credit score information. Some agreements provide access to third-party vendors.
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