What are specialty consumer reporting agencies and what kind of information do they collect?
Answer: Specialty consumer reporting agencies collect and share information about your transaction history with a business or using a specific product or service.
This is unlike the big three consumer reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
The information which specialty consumer reporting agencies collect depends on the agency and its specialty industry.
Reports may be compiled for your history of:
- Opening or using bank accounts (including writing or bouncing checks or overdrafts)
- Apartment rental payments
- Car insurance claims
- Homeowners and renters insurance claims
- Payday lending
- Utility payments
- Phone bill payments
- Medical records or payments
You might not know these reports exist unless you run into a problem, such as not getting a job, lease, insurance, or checking account, or when a utility company asks you to put down a deposit before starting service with you.
Just like with the big three consumer reporting agencies, you can get free copies of your reports every 12 months from many of the specialty consumer reporting agencies. Other specialty consumer reporting agencies may be able to charge you a fee for your report. Keep in mind that not every agency will have information on everyone. You have to request the reports individually from each agency.
The CFPB has put together a list of some of these specialty consumer reporting agencies, along with some information about how you can obtain copies of your reports.
A consumer reporting agency, including a specialty agency, must also give you a free copy of your consumer report upon request if you have received an “adverse action” notice.
Example: Let’s say a bank turns you down for a checking account based on a consumer report. This is an example of an “adverse action”. The bank must provide you with an “adverse action” notice that includes the name and contact information of the consumer reporting agency from which the bank got the consumer report.
You have the right to get a free report from the consumer reporting agency identified in an "adverse action" notice. Review the report to see what information the consumer reporting agency has on file about you. If you spot any errors, you can ask both the agency and the business that provided the information that the errors be corrected.
If you have a problem with credit reporting, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB online.