Is it possible to check the credit report of another person?

January 10th 2013

There are myriads of circumstances when you can pull the credit report of other people. Credit reports help you get an idea about the financial health of an individual. It helps you mitigate credit risks, save dollars and avoid unnecessary financially troubles.

Find out the rules before checking out the credit report

Before you try to check someone's credit report, you must know that there are some rules which need to be followed. You’ll have to take the prior permission of the person before taking a sneak peek at his/her credit report.

FCRA gives the permission to the people to check someone's credit report when he/she has the authorization. Other than that, one needs to have a proper business reason to view a person’s credit report. For example: for the purpose of giving out a loan or recruiting an employee. There are some other situations when one can view the credit report of another person. This is when an individual assists someone guard against fraud.

There are some situations when you don't need any authorization to view credit report of a third party. These special situations are when:

  • You want to look at the credit report of your minor son or daughter
  • You have the permission from the court or government agency
  • You have the power of attorney of another person

Consequences of breaking the rules

If you break the rules and look at the other's credit report illegally, then you'll be in a big problem. The concerned person can file a lawsuit against you. If he wins the case, then you may have to pay fee as high as $1000. The attorney fee is another expense which you'll have to bear with.

How can you view the credit report of another person?

There is a stark difference between pulling one’s credit report and asking a person to share his report with you. In the latter case, you’re not required to follow the FCRA rules. However, you’ll have to comply with the rules in the former case.

If you have received the prior permission of the person, then you can order the copy of his/her credit report from the credit bureaus. Usually, banks and financial institutions have direct access to the credit bureaus. If you're not a banker, then you'll have to give some identification details to the credit bureaus. This involves the contact details, Social Security number, birth date, etc. Other than that you may be required to give answers to some specific questions.

When can you check the report of other people?

Here are some situations when you can have a look at the credit report of other people.

1. To view your kid’s credit report: If your kid is receiving credit card solicitations, then it is better to check his/her credit report. This will help you find out if his/her identity has been stolen. Sometimes, fraudsters specifically target the teenagers applying for educational loans. Other than, the credit bureaus may add your credit information on the child's report by mistake. Dispute the wrong items on your kid's credit report. You can get a copy of your kid's credit report directly from the bureaus.

2. To avoid becoming a victim of fraud: Unfortunately, the identity-thieves and some family members try to make money by targeting the identity of the deceased person. To avoid such a predicament, you can order a copy of the deceased person's credit report from the 3 credit bureaus. The identity thieves will try to do fraudulent activities within a few days of the person’s death. So, submit the original death certificate of the person and identity details to the credit bureau. Request the credit bureau to put a credit freeze on the deceased person's report.

3. To protect your parents from fraud: Kids and the senior people are on the hit list of the identity thieves. Check out the accounts with high balances on your parent’s credit report. Ask your parent if he/she owns a particular account. Ask if he/she has co-signed on a loan recently. If your parent has co-signed on a loan without understanding its implication, then ask him/her to never take this step in future. You can secure a copy of the credit report by obtaining the power of attorney.

4. To check out your spouse's movements: Do you think that your spouse is having an affair with someone? Do you want to hire a detective but don't have the requisite money to pay the fee? If yes, then you can check the credit report of your spouse to detect the truth. Look at the credit report and see if new accounts have been opened at luxury stores. Find out if your husband has taken out a new credit card and given the office address for billing issues. You can’t scan the credit report of your spouse secretly. However, you do have the right to see it. You can just ask your spouse to show it to you.

5. To recruit someone in your firm: If you’re recruiting a person at a senior position, then it is better to have a look at the person's credit report. If you're hiring a personal secretary who’ll have access to your confidential information, then it is better to check his/her credentials. In addition to the credit report, check the personal details, criminal records and public records of the person.

Property owners and the landlords often check the credit report of the potential tenants. If you’re planning to rent out your vacation home or a portion of your house, then you may want to review the financial record of the potential tenant. Check the credit report before inviting a stranger to share your room or house. Give attention to the missed and late payments in the past 2 years. If the person had financial problems in the past 2-3 years and his credit is totally clean since that time, then you don’t have to worry.

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