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Specialty credit reporting firms are warned: Give free reports

November 29, 2012|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • Tenant screenings typically include credit checks.
Tenant screenings typically include credit checks. (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- People need to monitor more than just the three largest credit reporting companies, and some specialty firms that track rent payments, employment history and insurance claims aren't providing a free annual report as required by law, a federal regulator Thursday.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sent a bulletin to those smaller companies reminding them that they have to make it easy for consumers to obtain those free reports, including providing a toll-free number for requests.

Many consumers know they can get a free annual report from the three large credit reporting companies -- Experian Information Solutions Inc., Equifax Inc. and TransUnion.

But there are dozens of smaller nationwide companies that also must provide the information. Consumers' ability to access and check those reports is an important means of ensuring that the information is correct, bureau officials said.

“Nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies can have great influence over a consumer’s tenancy, insurance premiums, or even employment,” said Richard Cordray, the bureau's director.

The bureau, which oversees the industry, sent letters to six unnamed companies warning they might not be in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Problems included not listing required toll-free numbers on their websites or in phone listings.

And the bureau published a post on its blog alerting consumers they are entitled to a free annual report from nationwide credit reporting companies. The post included a list of some of those companies.

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