It is possible for businesses to view credit reports, in particular circumstances, without your permission.
For example, if you are applying for credit, such as a credit card, mortgage or auto loan, businesses do not need your permission to access your credit report. The act of applying for credit gives the company permission because it's implied and expected that they will be accessing the applicant's credit report.
However, if you read the application carefully, you almost certainly will find a statement that says by signing the application you are giving the lender permission to view your credit history.
Accessing a credit report for employment purposes does require your written consent. Keep in mind that if you are applying for a new job or a promotion, you must sign a separate form before the employer can check your credit history. This is mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
You can find more information on who can access your credit report on the Ask Experian blog.
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Scoped on: 2/23/2017