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Specialty consumer reports reveal your secrets -- Page 2

Residential and tenant reports. Many landlords ask prospective tenants to sign a release for credit and other background reports. Other tenant-screening reports can include information about an applicant's prior rental history, based on reports from previous landlords or housing court records, as well as services that actually contact former landlords and current employers. These can also include other information and reference checks on behalf of the rental-property owner.

For information on getting tenant reports, click here.

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Check writing history reports. Banks commonly report bounced checks, accounts closed due to insufficient funds, and fraud to specialty consumer reporting agencies including ChexSystems, Shared Check Authorization Network and TeleCheck. If you've been the victim of identity theft, you can fill out a form from ChexSystems that will place a security alert in your consumer report. That alert warns creditors that your identity may have been used without your consent.

For information on getting check writing history reports, click here.

Contesting inaccurate information

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have a right to a free report each year, to ask to have wrong information corrected, and to insert explanations into most of these reports. You don't get the exact report that your landlord, your insurance company or your bank gets, but you get a "file disclosure," which means that you can have a copy of the information that a particular specialty consumer reporting agency has on file about you.

If you are denied insurance, an apartment or a bank account because of information contained in one of these reports, you have the right to contest it. Different companies have different policies on how they go about investigating consumer complaints, but these policies must follow procedures outlined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

For example, the MIB will conduct a reinvestigation if a consumer contests information in his MIB file. The insurance company that reported the information will conduct this reinvestigation and will examine the underlying medical information, the source of that information, and any other relevant sources provided by the consumer, says Aronson.

Should the reinvestigation confirm the original information, MIB informs the consumer that no changes will be made and that the consumer has a right to file a statement of dispute that MIB will provide to any companies considering an insurance application for this consumer. If the original information was wrong, it will be corrected in your file.

How to get your report

Because different specialty consumer reporting agencies work in different areas, there is no centralized place where you can get all of these different reports. And keep in mind that there might not be reports on you in all or any of these areas. Still, it's good to check, especially if you are getting ready to apply for new private (nonemployer) insurance, rent a house or apartment, apply for a new bank account, or if you've been the victim of identity theft.

For a roundup of how to get ahold of your reports via the Web and toll-free phone numbers, courtesy of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse click here.

 
-- Posted: Aug. 17, 2005
 
   

 

 
 

 

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