There really are no secrets anymore. And to prove it, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau each year compiles an annual list of consumer reporting companies, firms whose sole purpose is to collect – and sell – information about you.
The list identifies dozens of specialty reporting companies that collect and sell access to consumers' data, including their finances, employment, check writing histories, or rental history records, often without their knowledge.
You can use the list to see what information these firms have, dispute inaccuracies, and file lawsuits if the firms are violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
“Many companies assemble and sell detailed dossiers about us that can determine whether we can get a loan, job, or an apartment,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Americans have limited legal rights they can use to keep tabs on these surveillance companies and hold them accountable when they violate the law.”
It's not just credit
While credit is the first thing you may think of, consumer reporting agencies are also used by landlords, employers and just about every other kind of company. A negative entry can affect your credit and can also make it hard to rent an apartment, find a job or qualify for a reasonable insurance premium.
While the three nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – allow people to check their reports for free once a week through December 2022, many of the specialty companies charge people a fee to access this data, the CFPB notes.
The list published today allows consumers to see which companies provide the information for free, as well as search for those that provide specialized reporting by specific markets, including employment, tenant, insurance, and medical.
If you find information in the consumer reports that appears to be inaccurate, you have the right to file a dispute and the consumer reporting company is required to conduct a reasonable investigation.
Consumers who have a problem with credit or consumer reporting, such as tenant screening or background checks, can submit a complaint to the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).