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Who Can See Your Credit Report?

4-minute read

In our modern age, it can feel harder to protect our privacy. We can peer into others’ lives on social media and dig up personal info on just about anyone by performing a simple Google search. In turn, you might be concerned as to who can see your credit report.

The good news? The average person is not privy to your credit information. For the most part, your score and report remain confidential, and only select parties and companies can see it. Here’s who can access your credit report, who can’t, and why.

Who Can Check My Credit Report?

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), parties with access to your credit file are limited. A credit bureau may provide information to parties that have a legitimate, valid need.

Think of businesses and parties who want to check your creditworthiness for different situations. Hiring you for a job, extending a line of credit, or opening an account for a cell phone, for example. Your credit file might also be pulled and reviewed if there’s a sound, legal reason for doing so.

Yourself. You can check your own credit report for free by signing up for an account with RocketHQSM. You can review your credit report for errors, check your credit score and get tips on how to improve it.

Banks. Even if there’s no credit card linked to your bank account, banks might still check your credit for signs of financial responsibility. They figure the more creditworthy someone is, the less likely they are to overdraw on their accounts, and the less likely they’ll leave an account dormant or abandon it entirely.

And because overdraft protection is technically a line of credit, your credit report might also be reviewed if you apply for this option from your bank.

Creditors and lenders. If you’ve applied for some form of financing, such as a line of credit or a credit card, a creditor or lender will check your credit report to gauge how risky it might be to extend financing to you. The reason they do that is to make sure their money is protected and that you’ll be able to meet the terms of the loan and make repayments.

However, if you’re getting preapproved, the other party might do a soft pull on your credit. In that case, while your credit file is being reviewed, it won’t negatively impact your score.

Employers. A potential employer might want to check your credit to gain insights about your financial habits and history. If you’re suffering from financial stress, it could be a red flag that you might be more likely to commit employee fraud. This might come more into play if you’re applying for a job that directly handles money or deals with financial transactions, such as a job in finance or accounting.

While both current and potential employers could access your credit report, you’ll have to grant them written permission before they do so.

Utility companies. The internet company and cell phone provider may check your credit when you apply to open a new account. The utility company might review your credit to see how likely you’d be to miss a payment or be late on payments. As you might’ve guessed, they’ll most likely look at your payment history. 

Court orders. If there’s a court order or grand jury subpoena that requires a review of your credit report, that party will be allowed to access your credit.

Debt collection agencies. Let’s say you’re in a prickly situation where you owe money to a debt collector. If that’s the case, the debt collector has permission to access and look over your credit file. They’re able to do this for as long as they hold one of your debts.

Insurance companies. As data reveals that insurers with poor credit tend to file more claims and with higher payouts, insurers might check your credit report. What’s more, those with a lower credit score might have a higher premium. During the underwriting process, insurance companies might request a credit-based insurance score to determine your rates.

Some states prohibit a credit-based insurance score to be the only reason for denying, not renewing or canceling someone’s policy. Some states also require insurers to inform an applicant or current policyholder why they were denied or dropped due to a credit-related issue.

Landlords. In many instances, a landlord will check your credit report to gauge how much of a financial risk you might be. They want to make sure you’ll be able to pay your rent on time. They’ll typically look at your debt load, if you’ve been evicted in the past and any issues with credit.

Is It Illegal to Check Someone Else’s Credit Report?

It is indeed not possible for you to check someone else’s credit report. For instance, your spouse, roommate, relative or ex-spouse. No one else is able to check your credit report, either.

Is Your Credit Report Public Information?

Rest assured that your credit report is not public information. As we’ve mentioned, it’s only made available to certain parties. The FCRA ensures your credit file remains private.

Can Someone Do a Credit Check Without Your Permission?

In some cases, yes. Only certain entities – namely, businesses with a specific goal with a legitimate reason – can check your credit without getting the green light from you beforehand. For instance, creditors, lenders and utility companies. However, if you’re shopping around for a loan, a line of credit, or opening a new account, you’ll probably know to anticipate these companies doing a credit check.

Case in point: When credit card companies prescreen you for a credit card offer, they gather information about you from a credit agency without your knowledge. However, employers cannot check your credit without written consent.

When a party pulls a hard inquiry on your credit, it’ll show up on your credit report. Soft pulls, which don’t affect your credit, won’t show up on your credit report.

While a handful of parties can access your credit report, they need to have a valid reason for doing so. For the most part, your credit remains confidential.

Visit our credit and personal finance learning centers for more information on credit reports.

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