Pretty much everyone who reads a personal finance blog knows that the Fair Credit and Reporting Act lets you check your credit report from each of the three bureaus every twelve months. You go to annualcreditreport.com, a government run website that acts as an intermediary between you and Experian, Equifax, and Transunion (the three credit bureaus), and you get a copy of your report [NOTE By Ray: In Canada you can get them every quarter from Equifax and Transunion]. You review it diligently, you dispute any errors, and you check for red flags. You do this every twelve months and you’re golden, right?
There are what’s known as “specialty reports” out there that collect information your credit report doesn’t have. Your credit report doesn’t have information on the personal checks you write. Did you bounce some? Maybe you overdrafted? The credit reports don’t collect that information but ChexSystems does.
The Fair Credit and Report Act gave you access to any data collected by a “consumer reporting agency.” Credit bureaus fall under this rule, but so do these other companies. You need to check these reports the same way you check your credit report. Check for errors, look for red flags, dispute problems, and repeat every twelve months.
So where are these reports? Here are the big ones.
- LexisNexis’s ChoicePoint system produces a Full File Disclosure report. The Full File Disclosure contains insurance information, rental information, any background checks performed, all criminal records.
- ChexSystems collects check writing and cashing information in their Consumer Report, here’s what a sample ChexSystems Consumer Report looks like.
- LexisNexis Accurint Person Report is another intruiging report that looks like an FBI dossier. It has a ton of other personal information from property owned to voter registration to “known associates.” Creepy huh? Doesn’t seem like it should be legal.
- A ISO A-PLUS loss-history report lists all of your insurance claims, which can be of great use to insurance adjusters.
- Finally, the Medical Information Bureau collects medical information such as your prescription drug history! You can get a copy of this report by filing a request at their website [Canadian resident request it here].
So, add this to your annual consumer report checking regime. Check your credit reports, your FICO credit score, and your specialty reports!
NOTE by Ray: I have tried to add Canadian resources where available, If you have any links please add them in the comments.
Jim runs personal finance blog Bargaineering.com and writes about money issues like how to find the best cd rates or what the best online banks are. To learn more, check out Bargaineering or follow Jim on Twitter.