Thanks mainly to the FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act), companies that compile personal information on you to give to others must (for the most part) give you at least one free report detailing what they have on you every 12 months.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau maintains a list of these databases but many of them either have the same information as the major ones or don’t have as much as the big ones do.
These companies essentially control your ability to open bank accounts, rent an apartment, get a mortgage, find a job, get a credit card, etc. You deserve to know what they have on you so you can tell them to correct something if it’s wrong.
In order to keep things simple, these are the information providers you should be looking at if you suspect you may have credit, banking, employment, driving or housing issues.
How to check Credit Reports?
It’s what you hear about most on this sub and rightfully so since credit report impact most peoples’ daily life.
- AnnualCreditReport.com offers your credit report from Equifax, Experian and Transunion every 12 months. You can order all 3 reports at once or spread them out 4 months a piece, etc. You’ll see loans, credit card accounts, collections, court judgments (most counties), addresses, etc.
How to Check General Background Information
Employers will usually pull one of these background files on you if they want to hire you. If you plan on going into certain fields (law enforcement, regulatory administration, anything with a security clearance) they’ll likely pull more than one type of background check on you as part of their investigation.
- First Advantage Corporation and Verification offers information mainly concerning court cases, both criminal and civil and will report some things which might also appear on your credit reports.
- Hire Right gives potential employers and landlords a better look into your driving records as well as things that might appear on a court docket or your credit report.
- LexisNexis may be your most important file since they vacuum up information on nearly everything. If you’re only going to get one non-credit report disclosure, make it this one.
- CredCo is another fairly all-encompassing database which doesn’t require that you mail in a paper copy of your request.
How to Check Banking Record Reports
ChexSystems is the gatekeeper at 80+% of banks, a few major banks don’t use them (Regions) but most do.
- ChexSystems is what would likely stop you from being able to get a bank account if you’ve written bad checks or left account balances negative in the past. See what they have on you to start figuring out how you can fix it.
How to Check Rental History
Most landlords run some type of tenant background check to see if you have previous evictions or you owe your former landlords money. These databases hold that information:
- SafeRent is mainly used by landlords and can be slightly more extensive than other background checks.
- Tenant Data may have something that SafeRent might have missed and vice versa.
How to Check Credit Scores
Other than getting your credit score from a banker for free after a loan application, you can use these site guides to get a close approximation of your credit score.
- Credit Sesame offers your credit score and credit report along with what aspects of your credit you need to improve.
- Credit Karma gives you free credit reports and scores along with recommendations for credit cards and loans.
- Discover Score Card offers your Experian score and updates it on a monthly basis.