Know who can see your Credit Report and Why

Authored By: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


Know your data

Consumer reporting companies collect information and provide reports to other companies about you. These companies use these reports to inform decisions about providing you with credit, employment, residential rental housing, insurance, and in other decision-making situations.

Who can see your consumer reports

Consumer reporting companies must follow legal restrictions, but can generally provide your consumer reports and scores to an array of businesses, including:


  • Debt buyers and collectors
  • Lenders, including those that offer credit cards, home, payday, personal, and title loans, auto loans or leasing, student loans, and security deposit financing and lease guarantees on home rentals
  • Insurance companies
  • Employers, volunteer organizations, and government agencies to determine eligibility for government assistance
  • Landlords and residential real estate management companies
  • Banks, credit unions, payment processors, and retail stores that accept personal checks
  • Companies that market and sell products and services specifically to lower-income consumers and subprime credit applicants, such as short-term lending and rent-to-own businesses
  • Communications and utility companies 
  • Retail stores for product return fraud and abuse screening; as well as retail stores that offer financing, such as appliance and rent-to-own businesses
  • Gaming casinos that extend credit to consumers and/or accept personal checks

Know when to check a report

With the exception of employment screening, users of your reporting data generally don’t warn you in advance when they’re about to take an adverse action against you based in whole or in part on your consumer report. That's why the accuracy and completeness of your consumer reporting data is extremely important.

Check your reports regularly

It’s important to review your credit reports from the three nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—every twelve months to ensure they are accurate and complete. This is especially important if you intend to purchase a home or car with credit, or otherwise intend to apply for credit in the future.

Check your reports before making financial decisions

If you are applying for a job, an insurance policy, or a lease, you should fact-check your background screening reports to ensure there are no errors

Check your reports if you think you may be a victim of identity theft

Data breaches are an unfortunate reality. It’s important to be aware of your options to take greater control of your consumer reporting data. 

Fact-check your reports and consider blocking third-party access to your consumer reporting data through a security “freeze.” 

Last Review and Update: Jan 30, 2020

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