Not just anyone can get your credit report

Dear Experian,

Can anyone obtain a credit report on anyone else if they are not a lending company of any kind? There is an argument going on a message board and someone is saying that any individual can obtain a credit report on any other individual.



Dear GEL,

Federal law strictly regulates who can obtain a copy of your credit report. Not just anyone can.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) lists the “permissible purposes” for obtaining a person’s credit report. See the “Who gets your credit report” subject in the “Common topics list” on the Ask Max homepage for a complete listing.

Those permissible purposes do not allow one individual to get the credit report of another private individual. With the exception of you getting your own report, access is restricted to businesses or government agencies that meet the permissible purpose requirements.

That is just the first step. A business then must meet Experian’s security and subscriber requirements before it will be allowed to access a report.

The only way one person could theoretically get another person’s report would be to commit identity theft and pose as the other person to request a personal report.

To prevent another person from posing as you, Experian takes a number of measures to verify your identity. Among them is asking you questions about your credit to which only you should have the answers. Only after you sufficiently answer those questions will Experian provide a credit report online.

You will be required to provide documentation to verify your identity before Experian will send you a credit report if you are unable to sufficiently answer the questions.

If someone does succeed in posing as another person, they have committed fraud, which is punishable by fines and potentially imprisonment.

Thanks for asking.

- The “Ask Experian” team

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