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    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Do It Yourself Background Checks

    The real post is here, however, via the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

    These are the unspoken questions asked by employers, landlords, creditors, insurers and banks as you – the consumer – make your way through the normal affairs of adult life. To the company that may give you a job, write an insurance policy, or rent you an apartment, you represent a risk – the unknown – and companies feel a need to assess their "risk" in dealing with you. Of course, you won't be asked these questions outright, but those who want to rate your "risk level" are turning more than ever to specialized "consumer reports" to find out more about you.

    The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) covers reports about your overall financial health. Credit reports allow a lender to see whether you pay your bills on time, have filed for bankruptcy, have an outstanding judgment or collection action against you.

    However, despite its name, the Fair Credit Reporting Act covers a lot more than simply credit reports. Credit reports are just one of a broader category of consumer reports covered by the FCRA.

    To learn more about your credit reporting rights, see PRC Fact Sheet 6, How Private Is My Credit Report?, .

    Consumer reports can also include reports about you made to employers, insurance companies, banks, and landlords. In recent years, many new companies have sprouted, compiling reports specifically targeted at employers, insurers, and landlords. The companies that compile reports for targeted users are "consumer reporting agencies" under the FCRA, just like the three credit national credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

    Do yourself a favor.  Real both the Consumerist post and it's comments, and read the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse information.  It might be the smartest thing you'll do all month... and it's only June 1.



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