Getting Credit Reports From Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies

Here's how to get your credit report from the "other" credit bureaus.

Besides the three nationwide credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion), several nationwide specialty credit reporting agencies also exist. Specialty credit reporting agencies, also called "specialty consumer reporting agencies," keep records on particular types of transactions, like:

  • tenant histories
  • insurance claims
  • medical records or payments
  • employment histories, and
  • check writing histories.

Getting your report from one of these agencies involves a different process than requesting a credit report from Equifax, Experian, or Transunion.

In addition to specialty credit reports, another kind of credit report—called an "investigative report"—contains personal information. Insurers and employers typically use these reports.

How to Get a Free Report From a Specialty Consumer Reporting Agency

In addition to your yearly free credit report from each of the major nationwide credit reporting agencies, you may also get a free credit report each year from each of the nationwide specialty credit reporting agencies. Though, getting your report from one of these specialty agencies involves a different process than if you're requesting a report from Equifax, Experian, or Transunion, which you can do by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.

To get a specialty credit report, you’ll have to contact each agency individually.

Contact Information for the Nationwide Specialty Credit Reporting Agencies

A few of the main nationwide specialty credit reporting agencies are Lexis Nexis Personal Reports, Experian RentBureau, Medical Information Bureau, ISO, Telecheck, ChexSystems, and Certegy. You can get a list of most credit reporting agencies and contact information for those agencies, categorized by type—like medical, employment, tenant, insurance, and so forth—from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Not all of the companies on the list provide free reports. If a company does provide one free report per year, the list will say so.

What Are Investigative Reports?

Investigative reports include personal information that is of interest to insurers and employers. Unlike regular credit reports and specialty credit reports, investigative reports include information on your:

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

This information comes from interviews with third parties, such as your neighbors, co-workers, or friends. Companies that prepare investigative reports often call them “background checks.” Because an investigative report could lead to a denial of insurance or a job, or damage a person’s reputation in the community, extensive rules apply to these reports. The rules limit who may request this kind of report and when.

Additional Rules for Investigative Reports

A slew of rules apply to regular credit reports, limiting who can request them and when. But 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, like 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 doesn't have to give you advance notice of its request for the report.

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