The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and some state credit reporting laws set forth the basic rules that protect your credit information. These laws allow only certain entities to gain access to your credit report in specific situations. They also restrict how your credit information can be used.
You might think that your credit reports are relatively private, so you could be surprised to learn that more than just your bank or creditors can get access to them. The FCRA and some state laws allow a fairly large class of people and businesses to pull your credit reports if you have a current or potential relationship with them. These include the following:
Sometimes, though, individuals and businesses pull your report when they have no legal basis to do so, which is called having an "impermissible purpose."
Just because the FCRA allows creditors, employers, landlords, and others to pull your credit reports doesn't give them, or anyone else, an open license to do so. In all instances, that entity must have what's called a "permissible purpose." If it doesn't, then that entity must have your permission before pulling a report.
The FCRA lists permissible purposes for pulling a credit report, which includes the following:
If the person requesting your credit report doesn't have one of the "permissible purposes," then your credit report is off-limits. Period. If your neighbor, ex-girlfriend, co-worker, relative, or a complete stranger pulls your credit report, you can be pretty sure that they probably violated the FCRA. Where it gets tricky, though, is when a potential creditor, employer, landlord, or another person that you have some colorable relationship with overreaches and grabs your report without having a permissible purpose.
Here are some common scenarios when an individual or other entity pulls your report without an impermissible purpose:
If you believe that somebody wrongfully pulled your credit report, you might be able to sue them in state or federal court for damages. Your state's laws may also offer additional relief and remedies.
Need a lawyer? Start here.