Consumer reporting agencies are used to determine many different things, from your creditworthiness to your reliability as a tenant, whether you are a high risk for an insurance policy or a low risk for check cashing. While many consumers are aware that there are three big national credit reporting agencies (the three major bureaus being TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian), other consumer reporting agencies report on specific aspects of your life such as your rental history, your insurance claim history, your check writing history, your medical history, your criminal record, and your employment history. Although the three major credit reporting agencies are more well known and often checked by consumers for accuracy, the lesser known specialized agencies, should also have their information checked for accuracy. Many of the specialized agencies allow consumers to request a copy of the report as well as a “risk score”.
In January of 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a government agency founded in 2011 to protect consumers in the financial sector, produced a list of credit reporting agencies. This list was not all inclusive, but it does provide information on various companies that hold themselves out as credit reporting agencies. The report also identified which credit reporting agencies on the list have consumer protections in place such as a free credit report every 12 months and the ability to place a fraud hold on your credit report produced by them.
Some of the agencies that provide rental history to potential landlords, multi-resident establishments, or residential management companies will provide consumers with this report upon request. These reports are known as tenant screening reports and may also include criminal background as well. As with the reports from the three major credit bureaus, a consumer may dispute incomplete, inaccurate, or out of date information that is on their tenant screening report. Inquiring from a potential landlord which consumer reporting agency is used and obtaining a copy of that report to verify the accuracy of the data contained in the report is as important as verifying the accuracy of the information on the three national credit bureaus.
The following companies were listed by CFPB as providing tenant screening reports:
- Contemporary Information Corp. (CIC) provides rental history and criminal background to rental properties, consumers can get a copy annually of their CIC consumer report by requesting a copy from CIC Reports Consumer Relations.
- CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions provides a more comprehensive report by including not only rental history (including evictions and prior addresses) and criminal records, but also presence on the sex offender registry, court judgments, prison sentences, and presence on known terrorist watch lists. CoreLogic provides, upon request, a copy of this report once every twelve months to the consumer.
- Experian RentBureau collects rental data from landlords, collection agencies, property management companies, and payment portals. This information is made available through tenant reporting agencies to multifamily residential properties. Experian also includes some of this information -specifically positive rent data- in its standard credit reports. Like with the standard Experian report, the Experian RentBureau may be requested by the consumer once every twelve months.
- Screening Reports, Inc., in addition to providing a copy of the report to annually, upon request, to the consumer, provide reports to several in the multifamily housing industry. The tenant reports produced include rental history, employment verification, evictions, criminal reports, sex offender watch lists, and foreign asset compliance (an Office of Foreign Assets Control – OFAC – search).
- Tenant Data Services provides a report that includes unauthorized pets, lease violations, information on damages, and other rental performance history. Like with the other agencies, this one allows a consumer to request a copy of their report annually.
- TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions provide reports to independent landlords and residential real estate management companies, in addition consumers may request a copy of this report annually.
- Leasing Desk (Real Page, Inc) provides a copy of the report annually to consumers who request it that frequently. They will also allow consumers to place a freeze on their report, upon request providing the state law allows it. Their reports are provided for tenant screenings.
- First Advantage Corporation Resident History Report also allows for a credit freeze if the state law permits it and the consumer requests it. The consumer may also request annual a copy of the report they provide.
The list is not comprehensive, as mentioned earlier, but is a list of organizations that provide credit information to potential landlords or leasing agencies. Like the other lists that will follow, this list is based on the information the CFPB collected from the organizations own websites identifying what services they offer. The CFPB did not independently verify any of the information the organization provided about their services.
Another form of report – employment and background screening – is provided to employers, volunteer organizations, and even government agencies. This report may include information such as professional affiliations, educational background, salary history, as well as employment history. Additional information that may be included with these reports include drug use, arrest records, criminal convictions, driving history, volunteer activity, fingerprints, and substance testing history – such as alcohol or drugs. The CFPB recommended that a potential employee inquire as to which reporting agency an employer requests a background check from and obtain a copy of that report to verify the information.
In accordance with the CFPB report, the following organizations provide background screening services:
- Accurate Background will provide consumers with one free background report if it is requested.
- American Database provides a copy of your report if you have received adverse decision based on their report.
- First Advantage Corporation provide an free annual report to consumers upon request and will freeze the account if requested depending on state law.
- Backgroundchecks.com is an affiliate of General Information Services, Inc (GIS) and follow the guidelines of GIS.
- General Information Services, Inc. (GIS) provides an annual report for free to consumers upon request.
- HireRight provides, upon consumer request, a free copy of the report every 12 months.
- Checkr allows consumers to view their reports via Checkr’s Applicant Portal.
- Info Cubic will provide a copy of the consumer report once every 12 months at no cost, upon request of the consumer.
- IntelliCorp, a subsidiary of Verisk Analytics, provides a free report to the consumer once annually, upon request.
- OPENonline also provides a free copy of the report they produce once a year to the consumer on request.
- Pre-employ.com provides a no-cost report annual when the consumer requests it.
- Sterling Talent Solutions provides a free copy once a year when requested by the consumer.
- Trak 1 will provide one free copy to a consumer who requests it, once every 12 months.
- The Work Number, which is run by TALX (Equifax Workforce Solutions) – a subsidiary of Equifax. The information in this report is collected from employers as well as payroll processors. It provides information to both employers and government agencies. The information is sometimes used to inform child support collections and enforcement. Like the standard Equifax report, consumers may request a free copy of this report once every 12 months.
Banks, credit unions, and other organizations who accept and process checks use a report called a check screening. This report is used to determine whether banks and credit unions will allow you to open an account with them. Monitoring this report is important, especially if you do not write checks, as this is the report on which bad checks appear. If a check appears and the consumer does not write checks, this may indicate fraud.
The CFPB report lists the following organizations as providing this particular report:
- Certegy Check Services which provide check screening services to gaming establishments as well as retail merchants who accept checks. This organization, which is affiliated with Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (FNIS), also collects check writing histories. A copy of this report is provided free of charge to a consumer who requests it, once every 12 months.
- ChexSystems is also affiliated with Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (FNIS). ChexSystems primarily provides their services to financial institutions. This organization collects and produces reports about checking accounts – whether when they were opened or when they were closed – the reason the accounts were closed (dormant, overdrawn and sold into collection, or other reasons). The information from this report is used by financial institutions to determine whether or not to approve your account. ChexSystems will provide one free report and one free score, if requested, once every 12 months. This company will also freeze a consumer report – subject to state laws – if a consumer request such an action be taken.
- CrossCheck, Inc. provides verification and guarantee services to the automotive industry (specifically sales and repair), the medical industry (including dentistry and pet medicine), and building and home improvement. Every 12 months a consumer can request and receive a free copy of their report.
- Early Warning Services is co-owned by multiple banks including Bank of America, BB&T, and Wells Fargo. Early Warning Services primarily assists companies who accept and process checks with detecting and preventing fraudulent transactions. Once each year (12 months), a consumer can request a free copy of their credit report and their deposit risk score.
- Global Payments Check Services, Inc provides a copy of the consumers report free, upon request, once every year. This company also provides check services to several consumer industries.
- TeleCheck Services, a subsidiary of First Data Corporation, assist businesses in reducing risks associated with accepting checks. TeleCheck Services also provides consumers with an annual report for free to consumers who request it.
Buy-here-pay-here businesses, whether they are sub-prime lenders, rent to own, or short-term lending establishments, use credit reporting agencies that cater specifically to those with low income and/or poor credit.
The CFPB, in their January 2018 report, listed the following credit reporting agencies as ones that cater to the industry for low-income and subprime borrowers:
- Clarity Services, owned by Experian, caters to the financial services targeted at low-income and subprime consumers. Payday loans, auto loans and other installment loans, rent-to-own, and check cashing services are some of the transactions Clarity Services collects data on. This company provides the consumer with a free credit report upon request once every 12 months. A credit risk score will also be provided to the consumer upon request. Clarity Services also freezes the consumer’s report – according to laws of the state – if the consumer request such action be taken.
The health, life, property insurance screening is used by insurance companies and their underwriter to determine the risk of insuring a given consumer. There are several consumer reporting agencies who provide the information that insurance companies use to determine whether or not a given consumer is too much of a risk to insure.
The report produced by the CFPB broke these up into two categories – personal property insurance and health insurance – these have been combined here under consumer reports provided to the insurance companies. The following list is all of the ones listed in the report as being provided to the insurance companies:
- A-Plus Property, a subsidiary of Verisk Analytics, Inc., reports insurance claims associated with real property. Loss information data is also provided to potential insurers. This company provides a copy of this report to consumers for free, upon request, once every 12 months.
- C.L.U.E. Inc. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) – affiliated with LexisNexis Risk Solutions – provides information on automobile insurance coverages and losses. Personal property coverage and losses are also included in this report. A copy of this consumer report can be obtained, once every 12 months, upon request of the consumer.
- Drivers History – of which TransUnion holds a majority interest – collects data from public sources and governmental agencies regarding traffic violations and citations issued to a given consumer.
- Insurance Information Exchange (iiX) – a subsidiary of Verisk Analytics, Inc. – provides prospective employers and insurance providers with motor vehicle records. Additionally, iiX provides verification of employment and education. A free consumer report can be obtained from iiX once every 12 months, upon request.
- MIB, Inc., a subsidiary of MIB Group, Inc., provides information regarding a consumer’s medical conditions and vocations that are hazardous to life and health insurance companies during the underwriting of individual insurance policies – whether life, disability, health, or other such polices. MIB consumer reports are not something every consumer will have as not all consumers have applied for individually underwritten life or health policies in the past 7 years. A consumer may request a free copy of this report once every 12 months, but as mentioned previously there may not be any information collected.
- Milliman IntelliScript collects information on a consumer’s prescription drug purchases. This report is generated when a consumer authorizes such a report to be released to an insurance company and a request was submitted by that insurance company.
Utility companies – electric companies, water companies, garbage disposal, as well as phone companies – use a disclosure to determine the risk of opening an account for a given consumer.
The January 2018 report from the CFPB listed the following consumer reporting agencies and providing reports to utility companies -in telecommunication companies:
- National Consumer Telecommunications & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE) collects new connection requests for all utilities – including telecommunications. Payment histories are also part of this file – including defaults and fraudulent accounts. The report this company provides allows companies to determine the risks associated with allowing a given consumer to open an account. This information is also used to determine the size of the deposit the utility will require. NCTUE allows a consumer to freeze their report – subject to state laws – as well as provides a copy of the report every 12 months at the consumer’s request.
Retail establishments have long had issues with consumers who habitually return items purchased in their establishment. There is one credit reporting agency that monitors these transactions.
- The Retail Equation provides merchants with reports of excessive returns and exchanges – including exchanges that are deemed fraudulent or abusive in nature.
Gaming establishments have their own reasons for requesting a consumer report. Generally, these reports are used to determine if the consumer’s check should be accepted or whether the gaming establishment should extend house credit to the patron.
- VIP Preferred assists gaming establishments – racetracks, casinos, etc. – with managing risks associated with a patron’s check. A free copy of this report may be obtained by the consumer once every 12 months, upon request.
Consumer reporting agencies range from the big three national reporting agencies – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian – to specialized consumer reporting agencies that provide information to a specific portion of the financial marketplace. Most consumer reporting agencies will provide a copy of the report they generate to the consumer upon request once a year (every 12 months). While many of the consumer reporting agencies will have a file on most consumers, some consumers may not have a file in several of the ones listed here and the CFPB report from January 2018.
In their report, the CFPB did state that the list was neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. The CFPB compiled the information from what each of these companies, who hold themselves out as credit reporting agencies, state that they provide to their clients and the consumer.
Consumer reporting agencies compile data that is used by insurance companies, prospective employers, financial institutions, gaming establishments, retail establishments, and even utility companies. Sometimes the information contained in the consumer report can result in an unfavorable decision for the consumer. If such reports have data that is incomplete, out of date, or otherwise inaccurate, a consumer may dispute the validity of the information contained in the report.