We recently tweeted out a “Did you Know?” about the names of the three major credit reporting bureaus in the United States.
If you’ve taken our course, you are already familiar with “The Big 3” credit reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) and know the importance of getting (and keeping) a solid credit profile, particularly after bankruptcy.
What many consumers don’t often realize is that, in addition to these high-profile credit reporting agencies, there are several other “specialty” reporting companies that also have a significant impact on other aspects of our financial and personal lives. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here’s a quick rundown of who they are, what they report and who they report to:
- Medical Reporting Bureaus
MIB, Intelliscript and Medpoint all compile information related to a consumer’s medical and prescription history to insurance companies. This information can be used to confirm information disclosed by a consumer applying for life, health or disability insurance. It is also used by underwriters to help determine premiums a consumer will pay for that coverage, restrict coverage for a preexisting condition – or deny coverage altogether.
- Banking History Reporting
ChexSystems, SCAN, Certegy and TeleCheck provide reports to financial institutions when consumers open new checking or savings accounts. As with other types of reporting bureaus, the reports provide a snapshot of a consumer’s banking history. Reports showing repeated overdrafts or general account mismanagement can make it very difficult for a consumer to open a bank account.
CLUE, Lexis/Nexis and Verisk ISO offer consumer claims histories that are used as part of the underwriting process for homeowner and auto insurance applicants. For example, consumers with a history of several automobile claims might be offered coverage, but at a higher premium than those with fewer or no claims. There is also a likelihood that high-risk applicants can be refused coverage altogether.
Experian Rent Bureau, CIC and CoreLogic are just a few of the many reporting bureaus landlords turn to when assessing prospective tenants. Again, a spotty rental history as reflected in these specialty reports can and do govern landlord tenancy decisions.
- Employment Screening Bureaus
Acurint, NCTUE and Work Number. More and more employers are turning to independent bureaus to assist in the screening of potential employees. These reports, like the others, contain a variety of public and non-public information. These reports also offer insight into a consumer’s work history and personal background and habits – including criminal history.
In addition, several other bureaus compile consumer data in highly specialized “niche “reports for such industries as telephone, cellular and cable service providers (NCTUE) and so-called “Fringe Financial Providers” that report the habits of users of payday/micro lending and “rent-to-own” products (CoreScore).
The good news for consumers is, like the Big 3, specialty reporting bureaus are also governed by many of the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA). Some of these provisions include:
- A consumer’s right to obtain file information from any Specialty Reporting Agency once a year at no charge.
- A consumer’s right to know who has reviewed this information.
- A right to dispute inaccurate information and/or explain the circumstances surrounding accurate information contained in a report.
- A right to review specialty reporting information that results in an adverse action taken against a consumer when applying for credit, insurance, an apartment or employment.
- A right to “opt out” of marketing programs developed using information found in the consumer’s reports.
Unfortunately, there is no single, “go to” source for requesting these specialty reports – and it can often be very difficult to locate these bureaus. A comprehensive summary of consumer rights surrounding these reports, as well as a more extensive list of the major specialty bureaus (and how to contact them) can be found at https://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs6b-SpecReports.htm#6