Review Your Specialty Consumer Reports

You have access to more research than you realize.

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When the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA) was amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) in 2003, consumer reporting agencies were required to provide consumers with copies of their reports. There were a litany of articles reminding people to review their credit reports at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the big three in the credit reporting world. While those are likely the most important reports you need to review, there are plenty of other, smaller, consumer reporting agencies that request your attention as well.

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These "specialty reports" are very much like credit reports but they don't get the exposure that credit reporting agencies get. It is a mistake to ignore them because in certain parts of your life, these reports can prove to be very important.

FACTA gives you the right to access data collected by a consumer reporting agency in the same way that you get access to credit bureaus, which are a type of consumer reporting agency. You can get access, for free, once every twelve months.

So what should you review? Here are the big ones you should consider:

  • LexisNexis Accurint Person Report: The Accurint Person Report looks a lot like an FBI dossier file and it really tests your limits of privacy (to be honest, I find it to be a little creepy). The report lists the property you own, your voter registration, and even has a list of "known associates." It makes you wonder about that maintenance van parked on your street.
  • LexisNexis's ChoicePoint: ChoicePoint collects insurance claims, rental information, criminal records, and background checks into a reported called a Full File Disclosure.
  • ChexSystems: ChexSystems is used mainly by banks whenever you apply for a bank account and it collects all fo your check writing and cashing information into a "Consumer Report." They have a sample ChexSystems Consumer Report available on their site.
  • A ISO A-PLUS loss-history report is an insurance report that lists all of your claims and is used most often by insurance companies.
  • Finally, the Medical Information Bureau produces a report that shows a plethora of medical information, including your prescription drug history. You can get a copy of this report by filing a request at their website, but be prepared to be creeped out at how much information they have!
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    So the next time you go to pull your credit reports from the bureaus, be sure to grab a few of these specialty reports as well. While it has nothing to do with your credit score (there are no scores involved), it's still important to make sure they're accurate.

    Jim Wang runs personal finance blog Bargaineering.com and writes about money issues like what is a good credit score.