What Are Specialty Credit Reports and Investigative Reports?

Specialty credit reports show your history for particular types of transactions, while investigative reports contain personal information about you.

Besides the basic credit reports that the three nationwide credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—produce, some companies generate specialty credit reports or investigative reports. How are these reports different from the nationwide agencies’ reports and from each other? Read on to find out.

(To learn more about regular credit reports and what's in them, see What’s in Your Credit Report.)

What’s a Specialty Consumer Reporting Agency?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act—the federal law that regulates the activities of consumer reporting agencies, the users of credit reports, and those who furnish information to such agencies—includes a category called “nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency.” This kind of credit reporting agency compiles records on particular types of transactions, like:

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

Getting 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.

Major Nationwide Specialty Credit Reporting Agencies: Contact Information

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.

Also, here are some of the main nationwide specialty credit reporting agencies and contact information for those agencies:

LexisNexis Personal Reports. LexisNexis compiles reports on insurance claims, among other things. It then provides the data to various businesses or the government for purposes such as insurance underwriting and credit transactions. To get all the information the agency has on you—called a “Full File Disclosure Report”—mail in the request form available on its website.

Experian RentBureau. RentBureau is a specialty credit reporting agency owned by Experian that allows participating property owners and managers to provide positive and negative rent payment information directly to the agency. To request a copy of your rental history report, download a form at www.experian.com/rentbureau/rental-payment.html and mail it in or call 877-704-4519.

Medical Information Bureau. For a medical history report if you have private health insurance, go to www.mib.com or call 866-692-6901.

ISO. For an insurance claims report, go to www.iso.com, and search for “A-PLUS loss-history report” and click on “A-PLUS - How to order your free A-PLUS loss history report” or call 800-627-3487.

Telecheck. For a check writing report, go to https://getassistance.telecheck.com/consumer-file-report.html or call 800-366-2425.

ChexSystems. For a check writing report, go to www.consumerdebit.com or call 800-428-9623.

Certegy. For a check writing report, go to www.askcertegy.com or call 800-237-3826.

What Are Investigative Reports?

Another type of report—called an “investigative report”—includes 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 is gathered from interviews with third parties, such as your neighbors, co-workers, or friends. Companies that prepare investigative reports often call them “background checks.”

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.) But because an investigative report could lead to a denial of insurance or a job, or could damage a person’s reputation in the community, even more rules apply to these reports. The rules limit who may request this kind of report and when.

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

  • tell you it has requested or may request 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.

But if an employer requests a report to investigate employee misconduct or violations of law, then the employer doesn’t have to give you advance notice that it’s requesting the report.

Getting More Information

To get general information about credit reports and credit scores, see Credit Reports and Credit Scores: What’s the Difference? Also, learn how to dispute errors and inaccuracies in a credit report.

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