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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Many people think they’re very savvy when it comes to keeping tabs on their credit scores and over finances.
But even the savviest may have no idea how reporting agencies are keeping tabs on them.
Everything from paying the utility bill to purchasing prescription drugs to having a problem with the landlord can be used to create a record.
Lauren Kantor considers herself in the ‘financial know’. She works in the banking industry and pulls her credit report from the three major agencies on a regular basis.
“I often check the credit to see where the score is at and if there’s anything new on the report that I should know about,” said Kantor.
When asked if she ever pulled a ‘consumer’ report from a nationwide consumer reporting agency, Kantor said she not. These types of companies create reports people’s activities by tracking utility payment history, their insurance claim records, how many times they’ve bounced a check, been written a ticket and so on.
“I find that absolutely crazy,” said Kantor. “I had no idea.”
Millions of people could have records with hundreds of nationwide consumer reporting agencies.
“I don’t think most people realize there’s so many different agencies and, and data collection services out there right now. And most of the time they don’t actually find out about it until something negative happens,” said Kantor.
The ‘negative’ can range from being turned down for cable TV and apartments to being denied insurance or even a job.
Federal law states individuals have the right to request annual reports from these agencies, just like they do with the “Big Three” credit bureaus.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau keeps a list of many of the biggest consumer agencies. They suggest you run a report on yourself, make sure that it’s accurate and if it’s not accurate then take the steps necessary to correct the information.
Sometimes that it easier said than done.
The Federal Trade Commission sued four national consumer reporting agencies for not properly disclosing people’s records and not following proper dispute procedures.
The Consumer Data Industry Association says sometimes people won’t have a record with these agencies because they’ve never had a rental, insurance, banking or utility issue. They say specialized reporting not only protects businesses, but helps consumers who have made responsible choices.
Kantor, who has found and disputed errors on her credit reports, now plans to start requesting copies of her consumer reports.
“I should really know what kind of information is out there about me and if there are mistakes, I really need to get them corrected,” said Kantor.
Consumer reporting agencies are required to give you a copy of a report to a consumer if the information in it was used to deny an application.