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Credit Reports

In the United States, three credit bureaus essentially control the market.  They are Trans Union, Experian (formerly TRW) and Equifax.  Your source of credit reports probably deals with one of these companies.

All three bureaus receive their information from the same sources, so it doesn't usually matter which one provides the information to you.  On rare occasions, though, the reports do not always agree.

The release of credit information is regulated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Before you can legally secure an applicant's credit report, you must receive his written authorization.  Your Rental Application may include the language or you may want to provide a separate form.  Keep the authorization in your file.

WARNING!

Beginning June 1, 2005,  businesses with employees cannot throw out documents containing workers' or customers' personal information without first destroying them--they must be shredded, burned or otherwise made unreadable.

The law is among new provisions added to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.

The rules were designed to reduce the risk of identity theft and other consumer harm resulting from improper disposal of consumer reports or any records derived from them.

Under the rules, all businesses will be required to destroy any consumer credit information they have obtained from credit reports.

"Any person who maintains or otherwise possesses consumer information for a business purpose" must properly destroy the discarded information, under the new credit transaction rules.

An organization must "dispose of such information by taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal," the rules state.

Business owners could face fines of $1,000 per violation and be sued for actual damages caused by improper access to personal information.

The full text of the rule is available at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2004/11/041118disposalfrn.pdf

The credit report will list current/previous address(es) and employer(s) and will contain information about known bankruptcies, collection accounts and court judgments (including evictions) that are in the public record.  Additionally, it provides credit and payment information from the applicant's creditors.

Credit reports come in many formats, but the description that follows will provide a general understanding of the report's contents.  The format shown is from Equifax.

Equifax Report Format

NM NAME
CA CURRENT ADDRESS
ES EMPLOYMENT SUBJECT - POSITION, FIRM, LOCATION
SSS SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
BDS BIRTHDATE OR AGE
* NAME; SINCE - DATE FILE WAS ESTABLISHED; FAD - DATE OF LAST ACTIVITY ON FILE; FN - FILE NO. CURRENT ADDRESS, PRIOR ADDRESS(ES)
* SUM = SUMMARY OF FILE ITEMS; MM/YY - MM/YY = OLDEST OPENING DATE OF TRADE, NEWEST REPORTING DATE OF TRADE; PR/OI = IF YES, SUBJECT HAS PUBLIC RECORDS; FB = IF YES, INFO FROM OTHER (NON EQUIFAX) CREDIT BUREAUS; ACCTS = NUMBER OF ACCOUNTS; HC = HIGH CREDIT RANGE
******PUBLIC RECORDS******
DATE FILED DATE REPORTED DATE FILED
TYPE (BKRPT) TYPE (COLL) TYPE (ST JD - SATISFIED JUDG); (JUDG-JUDGMENT)
COURT NUMBER DATE ASSIGNED TO COLLECTION AGENCY COURT NUMBER
CASE NUMBER AGENCY ID NUMBER AMOUNT
LIABILITIES CREDIT GRANTOR NAME OR NUMBER DEFENDANT
ASSETS AMOUNT CASE NUMBER
EXEMPT AMOUNT DATE AND STATUS PLAINTIFF
TYPE BALANCE DATE VERIFIED
  DLA - DATE OF LAST ACTIVITY ON ACCT. STATUS
  ECOA DESIGNATOR - (I)NDIVIDUAL, (J)OINT, (S)HARED, (C)O-MAKER, (A)UTHORIZED USE, (U)NDESIGNATED, (M)AKER, ON (B)EHALF OF ANOTHER PERSON, (T)ERMINATED DATE SATISFIED
  ACCOUNT SERIAL NO.
* FIRM/ID CODE
RPTD DATE REPORTED
OPND DATE OPENED
H/C HIGH CREDIT OR CREDIT LIMIT
TRM MONTHLY REPAYMENT AMOUNT OR NUMBER OF MONTHS OR YEARS
BAL LAST REPORTED BALANCE
P/D PAST DUE AMOUNT
CS CURRENT STATUS OF ACCOUNT
(I)NSTALLMENT; (O)PEN; (R)EVOLVING
0 - TOO NEW TO RATE; APPROVED BUT NOT USED
1 - PAYS WITHIN 30 DAYS, OR NOT OVER ONE MONTH PAST DUE
2 TO 5 - TWO, THREE, FOUR OR FIVE MONTHS PAST DUE
7 - PAYING UNDER DEBTOR'S PLAN
8 - REPOSSESSION
9 - BAD DEBT
MR MONTHS RECEIVED
ECOA (I)NDIVIDUAL, (J)OINT, (S)HARED, (C)O-MAKER, (A)UTHORIZED USE, (U)NDESIGNATED, (M)AKER, ON (B)EHALF OF ANOTHER PERSON, (T)ERMINATED
DLA DATE OF LAST ACTIVITY ON ACCOUNT

Click here for a pdf summary of Trans Union codes.

Sample Credit Report

Date:  10/14/98       Time:   14:44:28       Operator:   MLM

Department:        Report Format:  P         Reference:

NM-JONES, MARK, A.

CA-2002, E US HIGHWAY 6, 61341, MARSEILLES, IL, 61341,,,

ES-TRAINMAN, B&O RAILROAD

ID-SSS-461-64-2761, BDS-12/01/60.

 

*     431 CSC NORTHERN ILLINOIS,          PO BOX 664402,

             , HOUSTON, TX, 77267-4402, 217/872-3799

*JONES, MARK, A     SINCE 03/00/85     FAD 05/01/97     FN-316

 2002, E US, HY RT 6, MARSEILLES, IL, 61341, TAPERPTD 08/97

 BDS-12/01/1960, SSS-451-54-2761

01-  ES-, ARMY

*SUM-07/90-09/98, PR/IO-NO, FB-NO,  ACCTS: 2, HC$0-97375, 2 ONES

*INQS-CRDCO   502IZ22950     05/01/97

*         FIRM/ID  RPTD   OPND   H/C  TRM  BAL  P/D  CS  MR  ECOA  ACCOUNT

          CODE                                                     NUMBER

FMC       *905     09/98  01/98  25K   422  22K      I1      J     AFA399L2

          AUTO

MBNA *458          04/98  05/95    14K         0     R1   35 I

CREDITCARD

END OF REPORT EQUIFAX AND AFFILIATES - 10/14/98

 

Sources for Credit Reports

 

CreditLink Corporation

Factual Data

First American Registry

Mr. Landlord

National Tenant Network

Screening Reports

The Credit Bureau

 

Many credit reporting agencies exist.  Graff Realty does not endorse any specific credit reporting agency.

 

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