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Topics addressed on September 17, 2008:
How to find out who is checking your credit report
How do I know who is checking my credit reports? Can anyone check my credit? Do you keep a list of these people? I think my neighbor knows everything about my finances. How is that possible?
Your personal credit report includes a list of everyone who has accessed your credit report during the last two years. Actually, there are two lists.
Each request for your credit report is called an inquiry. There are two different types of inquiry – those shared with others and those that are shown only to you. They are shown in separate lists on your personal credit report.
Experian provides lenders only inquiries that are the result of your application for credit or certain other financial services, such as housing. These inquiries are shared with lenders because they represent additional debt or financial obligations that may not yet appear on your credit report as an account. The inquiries are important because they can indicate additional lending risk represented by potential new debt in an amount that is still unknown.
Lenders do not receive the second type of inquiry, which are inquires that you did not initiate by completing an application. These inquiries appear only on the report you get directly from Experian through a credit monitoring service such as Triple Advantage or FamilySecure.com, or by requesting your free annual credit report through www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also get a personal report free when you have had adverse action taken, such as having your application declined. The lender will provide instructions for requesting your report in that instance.
Inquiries resulting from reviews to make preapproved credit offers, for insurance or employment purposes, for account monitoring by your existing lenders and for requesting your own report fall into this category. There typically are far more of this type of inquiry, but because they are not shared with lenders, they have no impact on credit scores or your ability to get credit.
I don’t know why your neighbor seems to know so much about your personal finances. It sounds like you have a nosey neighbor of the worst sort. Not just anyone can get a copy of your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act includes a very short list of who can get a copy. Unless your neighbor has enough of your financial information to pass online authentication, they can’t get your report. And if they used your identity to request a report by mail, it would be mailed to your address. In either case they would be committing identity theft and could face criminal penalties. Most importantly, all you have to do is request a copy of your report and you will know exactly who has gained access because it will be listed as an inquiry.
Think about what you discuss with them. I never share financial information of any kind with my friends or neighbors, including how much I’m paid. It’s just none of their business. If your neighbor has any manners, they won’t ask you about those things, either. If the topic comes up again, you might ask where he got the information.
It’s possible they are just making good, educated guesses. People in the same neighborhood typically have very similar financial circumstances. So, you might infer from what they say to you that your neighbor is actually describing their personal finances, too.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team