They're collecting all kinds of data on you

The Credit Reporting Agencies You Don't Know About

by Bill Hardekopf


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Credit reporting agencies know much more about you than your number of credit cards or how much you owe on your mortgage. You may be surprised at the personal information collected by credit agencies and how many agencies are tracking your financial behavior.

TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax are the biggest nationwide credit reporting agencies, but there are many smaller, specialty agencies that focus on specific industries. They collect and sell your information, providing reports that help determine whether you get credit, insurance, and other financial services.

In an effort to bring clarity to the reporting process, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently compiled a list of 40 specialty reporting agencies. This list provides contact information and how to obtain copies of your credit report.

On November 29, the CFPB warned these specialty credit reporting agencies that they may be violating federal law by not providing consumers with easy access to credit reports. The Bureau released a bulletin reminding consumer reporting agencies of their legal obligation to provide a streamlined process for consumers to request a free annual credit report.

Here are some of the agencies and the information they collect:

  • Chex Systems collects checking account applications, openings, and closures, including reasons for account closure. Many banks and credit unions will check this database before they approve a new account.

  • DataX provides information on the credit history of subprime consumers.

  • Insurance Information Exchange collects motor vehicle records, including traffic violations and accident reports.

  • L.N. (Clue Auto Report) provides information about an individual's automobile insurance coverage and losses.

  • CoreScore Credit Report collects property tax filings, rental applications and evictions, property ownership and mortgage obligation records, payday loan and online lending information, bankruptcies, liens, and child support obligations.

  • National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange collects information on new connect requests, account and payment histories, defaults, and fraudulent accounts associated with telecommunications, pay TV, and utility (electric, gas, water) services.

  • CoreLogic Teletrak has databases on property taxes, flood and disaster risk, criminal background, and evictions.

  • LexisNexis Screening Solutions Inc. collects tenant history information.

  • Medical Information Bureau collects information about medical conditions and data from insurance applications.

  • First Advantage conducts background screening services.

  • Telecheck provides information on check fraud and conducts check verifications for retailers that accept checks as payment in their stores.

Bill Hardekopf is CEO of LowCards.com, a site that simplifies the confusion of shopping for credit cards. It is a free, independent website that helps consumers easily compare credit cards in a variety of categories such as lowest rates, rewards, rebates, balance transfers and lowest introductory rates. It also gives an unbiased ranking and review for each card.

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