Special Credit Reports: Investigative Reports

Investigative reports are consumer reports that contain personal information about you.

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In addition to regular credit reports, there are some special credit reports that contain different types of information. One type -- investigative reports -- include personal information that is of interest to insurers and employers.

What Information Is in an Investigative Report?

Unlike regular credit reports, investigative reports include information on your:

  • character
  • general reputation
  • personal characteristics, or
  • mode of living.

This information is gathered from interviews with third parties such as your neighbors or friends. 

(To learn what is in regular credit reports, see Credit Report Basics.) 

Who Uses Investigative Reports?

Creditors do not usually request these investigative reports. Insurers and employers are the most likely to ask for them.

Additional Rules for Investigative Reports

There are a slew of rules that apply to regular credit reports, limiting who can request them and when. (To learn about these rules, see Who Can Look at Your Credit Report.) However, because the information in investigative reports is personal and invasive, additional rules apply.

If a business or person requests an investigative report, it must:

  • tell you it has requested an investigative report
  • have a legitimate reason to request the report
  • tell you, in writing, that you have a right to request a description of the nature and scope of the investigation
  • disclose the nature and scope of the investigation if you request this information, and
  • in some situations, get your consent.

For example, businesses that procure employees for prospective employers, such as head­hunters, must get the consumer’s consent before conducting the investigation and again before telling the employer the results. 

However, if an employer requests a report to investigate employee misconduct or violations of law (rather than creditworthiness, standing, or capacity), it does not have to give you advance notice of its request for the report. 

Learn more about credit reports, credit scores, and how to get them.

This is an excerpt from Credit Repair, by Margaret Reiter and Robin Leonard (Nolo).




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