Posted: Dec 01 2004 | Revised: Jan 10 2019
- Your Right to Free Annual Reports from Nationwide Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies
- Home and Auto Insurance Claims Reports
- Tenant Screening Reports
- Banking and Check Writing History Reports
- Employment Background Screening Reports
- The Work Number Employment Data Reports
- National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE)
- LexisNexis Full File Disclosure
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives consumers the right to free consumer reports from so-called nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies every 12 months. Specialty reporting agencies compile reports about such things as your:
- Residential or tenant history
- Check writing and banking history
- Employment history
- Insurance claims
- Medical records and prescription history
2. Your Right to Free Annual Reports from Nationwide Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies
The FCRA gives consumers the right to a free report from a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency once every 12 months. Requests must be made directly to each specialty reporting agency. There is not a central source for obtaining your free specialty reports.
Each agency must establish a toll-free telephone number for requesting consumer reports. Some, but not all, agencies also allow online, faxed, or mail-in requests.
What information goes into a “specialty” report?
Specialty consumer reporting agencies operate much like credit bureaus. The agencies collect information about you from a variety of sources, including:
- Public records of criminal or civil cases
- Your credit history
- Bankruptcy filings
- Companies with which you have an existing or prior business relationship, such as insurance companies or banks
- Your medical information
- Driving records
From this information, the specialty reporting agency compiles reports based on the requirements of targeted users such as insurance companies, employers, and landlords.
Do I have any rights to dispute errors in my specialty report?
Yes. Under the FCRA, you have the right to dispute inaccurate information in any specialty report prepared about you. When you dispute information, the reporting agency has an obligation to investigate and correct any inaccurate or outdated information. The company that provided the incorrect information must also correct the error.
Who can I complain to if I have a problem with my specialty report?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the regulatory authority for most consumer reporting agencies. You can file a complaint online or by call the CFPB at (855) 411-2372.
3. Home and Auto Insurance Claims Reports
Specialty reports that tell insurers about claims you have made against your homeowner’s or automobile insurance polices are prepared by two companies: LexisNexis (CLUE report) and Verisk Insurance Services (A-Plus report). For more details on insurance claims reports, see PRC's guide CLUE and You: How Insurers Size You Up.
4. Tenant Screening Reports
A large number of companies prepare reports for landlords concerning individuals who have applied to rent housing. Consumers may have a particularly difficult time exercising their right to a free specialty report when the market is saturated with agencies. This may prove to be the case for tenants who want to check their file. If you learn you will be subject to a tenant screen, you may save yourself a lot of time and trouble by simply asking the landlord the name and contact information for the screening company.
The Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) maintains a list of consumer reporting companies that includes most nationwide tenant screening companies. There are also local companies that prepare tenant screening reports.
5. Banking and Check Writing History Reports
Several companies provide reports on your check writing history:
- ChexSystems is a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency that collects and maintains information from member financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. If a bank closes your checking account because of insufficient funds, for example, it will make a report to ChexSystems that other banks will check when you apply for new accounts. You may call (800) 428-9623 or visit the ChexSystems website to obtain your free report.
- TeleCheck maintains a database of returned checks and instances of fraud. It provides check authorization and verification to member retailers. Call (800) 835-3243 or visit their website to obtain your free report
- Certegy Check Services collects check writing histories and provides check screening services for retailers who accept checks as payment in their stores. Call (866) 543-6315 or visit their website to obtain your free report.
- Early Warning Services assists payment processors and check acceptance companies by providing real-time verification against high-risk accounts and identifying items at the point-of-sale with a high likelihood of returning unpaid. Call (800) 325-7775 or visit their website to obtain your free report.
- Cross Check provides check verification services for retailers who accept checks as payment in their stores. Call (800) 843-0760 or visit their website to obtain your free report.
6. Employment Background Screening Reports
Generally, an employment background screening report will exist on you only if someone has already paid to have a report compiled. The Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) maintains a list of consumer reporting companies that includes contact information for some of the major employment screening companies.
If you have ever worked in the retail industry, your name may appear in little-known databases that identify former retail employees questioned or fired regarding an alleged theft. Such databases like the one maintained by First Advantage Corporation's Esteem database, do not include an arrest or conviction. Rather, the data included is often a name along with a vague reference to an incident involving a retail employee. To receive a free file disclosure from First Advantage Corporation, see the company’s request form.
7. The Work Number Employment Data Reports
The Work Number provides employment data reports, which are limited to basic employment information (such as name of employer, dates of employment, salary, and job title) obtained from participating employers. The Work Number is an employment and income verification service. It is not a background screening service.
Essentially, the Work Number permits companies to outsource certain payroll and human resource functions. Thus, it operates somewhat differently than a typical consumer reporting agency in that it only collects information from the employers with which it has contracts. The Work Number maintains information on at least 30% of the U.S. working population. It is owned by the credit reporting agency Equifax.
The Work Number will provide you with one free Employment Data Report every 12 months. You can obtain a free annual disclosure by calling (866) 604-6570 or by going to their website. You can download the Employment Data Report Request form and follow the instructions to complete and return the form. Once your request is received, your Employment Data Report will be mailed to you within 15 days.
If you believe information in your Employment Data Report is inaccurate, you may contact the Work Number’s Client Service Center at (800) 996-7566 to have your dispute investigated. Your information will be blocked from verifiers during the reinvestigation. Results of the reinvestigation will be provided within 30 days of receipt of a dispute.
8. National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE)
National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE) is a consumer reporting agency that maintains customer data reported by utility service providers that are members of NCTUE. These providers include cellular, local, and long distance phone companies, cable and pay TV services, internet service providers, and electricity, gas, and water utilities. The data includes information about a consumer’s account history, unpaid closed accounts and customer service applications.
Consumers may obtain a free NCTUE Disclosure Report containing the information in their data report. NCTUE does not receive information from every service provider. Therefore, they may not have a Disclosure Report available for everyone. To request a copy of your NCTUE Disclosure Report call (866) 349-5185 or visit their website.
If you believe that any item contained in your NCTUE report is incomplete or inaccurate, NCTUE will investigate the matter. Complete and return the Research Request form included in the disclosure report and provide details of the information you believe is inaccurate.
The NCTUE database is housed and managed by the credit reporting agency Equifax, but it does not include Equifax credit information. Although NCTUE is managed by Equifax, if you have placed a security freeze on your Equifax credit file, it will not affect your NCTUE report. It is necessary freeze your NCTUE credit file separately on the NCTUE website.
A LexisNexis Full File Disclosure includes both the consumer’s file and a public records search. You can see what information about you is maintained in LexisNexis files. This is the information that is used by LexisNexis to create consumer reports. These consumer reports may be sold to businesses with a legitimate business need for that information. The public records search will contain information available in county, state or federal public records such as real estate transaction and ownership data, lien, judgment and bankruptcy records, professional license information, and historical addresses.
LexisNexis offers consumers their Full File Disclosure free of charge once per year. To order your Full File Disclosure, read the instructions and download the forms on their website. The form must be mailed with the required identity authentication documents. Once LexisNexis has verified your identity, all information will be mailed to the address you provide on the request form.