How to See What’s On Someone Else’s Credit Report

Illustration of credit report on paper in mans hand through magnifying lensEvery now and again I’m asked if it’s possible to check someone else’s credit report. The answer, of course, is “Yes”. However, before I offer any advice as to how this is accomplished, I first make sure to ascertain the individual’s particular motivation for it. That’s because there are only a few reasons why this bit of research should be performed. Therefore, I’m going to start this article off with the reasons in which one could ethically justify accessing and reviewing another person’s credit history report and score.

Justifiable reasons for performing a credit report search on another

In a nutshell, there are only a few circumstances in which it’s considered “okay” to perform a credit history research on someone else. These situations are generally for the purposes of reducing financial risk on the part of the inquirer, saving money and even to assist someone when it comes to mitigating or offsetting trouble. These reasons can include:

  • Evaluating a possible future roommate
  • Evaluating a potential employee
  • Concerns regarding a senior’s (parent’s) finances
  • Checking to see if your children’s credit has been hijacked
  • Making sure that a deceased spouse’s identity hasn’t been stolen

As you can see, the underlying theme for these reasons has to do with protecting yourself or another individual. These, and other, permissible reasons are outlined in the 15 U.S. Code § 1681b – Permissible purposes of consumer reports.

How to go about obtaining the credit report

Before beginning your credit report research you need to take into consideration that you can’t obtain a copy of another person’s credit report without their permission, with the exception of certain circumstances. This is for a number of legal reasons related to privacy, and the federally mandated Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) will outline the specifics regarding the aforementioned reasons. So, for example, if you are an employer and wish to run a background credit check on a potential employee, you need to follow the guidelines for employers set down by the FCRA. Moreover, specified release forms must be used to obtain someone’s credit report information, such as when a potential tenant is being considered for an apartment. The exceptions to the permission obtained rule occur when requesting the credit report for your child, if he or she is a minor, or if you have the power of attorney over the individual in question.

A final word

One of the most important things when deciding to run a credit report check is to refrain from drawing any immediate conclusions from the report that is received. First of all, credit reports are not infallible and mistakes are common. This is especially true when it comes to a report showing that an account is still open when, in actuality, it was closed by the account holder. Additionally, other circumstances may reveal negative credit issues that have occurred when an individual is in the process of securing a divorce. Therefore, it’s suggested that you use a questionable credit report to serve as a discussion initiator, rather than as a conversation ender.

Posted on November 8, 2017 by in Credit Monitoring

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