I just came across a great article written by Consumer Reports. It talked about information other than credit data that is gathered by other agencies about you. For example, insurance claims that you have made are collected by a company called ChoicePoint. Insurance companies use this information when creating quotes for your home and auto insurance. You have a right to see what is in your file. Go to www.choicetrust.com to obtain your ChoicePoint file. This report is subjected to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, so you can obtain a free copy of your report, once a year.
Another repository of information about you is your health information at MIB Group. Its a consortium of 470 U.S. and Canadian companies that sell health, life and other insurance. They keep records related to insurance examination that you have had and prescription drugs that you have used in the past five years. This report is also subjected to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, so you can obtain a free copy of your report, once a year.
Your checking account is now monitored by consumer credit reporting agencies such as Telecheck and Chex Systems. Recently, my in laws purchased a condo in Florida and went to the local bank to open a checking account. They were astounded to learn that the bank pulled their consumer credit report with Trans Union as a condition to opening an account for them. I have come to learn that this is no isolated incident. I noticed that my bank is now pulling consumer credit reports on all new customers. Anyways, both Telecheck and Chex Systems reports are governed by the FCRA and you should pull your reports with those companies at least once a year.
Purchase Returns….yes stuff you buy and return is now being tracked by The Retail Equation. Some stores, before accepting a return, are running their customers’ drivers licenses through this database. I don’t believe that a store can deny someone the right to return something because that particular customer has a habit of purchasing and returning. You see, when you purchase something at a store, you are entering into a contract. If that contract allows you to return something within a specified period of time, and you comply, the store will just have to grin and accept the return. You can find out what your return profile looks like at www.theretailequation.com/consumers.
Your rental history is kept at First Advantage SafeRent. Its a database of 34 million records and is used to help landlords decide whether to lease an apartment or not. This is covered by the FCRA and you have a right to see whats in that file.
Moral of the Story – There is an incredible amount of information about you out there. Most of these databases did not exist ten years ago. Today, they not only exist, but as a consumer, you have a duty to yourself and your family, to know what information about you is floating around. You see, just because its all computerized does not mean that it is necessarily accurate. Congress, through the Fair Credit Reporting Act, has opened the door and given you a right to protect yourself. As a good consumer, its your job to walk through that passageway.