Who has access to your credit report?

Your credit report is given only to those who legitimately need it — but that may be more companies than you think:

Banks and creditors

Lenders, credit card companies, and banks will access your credit reports when you apply for a new account and periodically as they extend offers to you.

Insurance companies

In some states, insurance companies use credit reports to help determine rates.

Utility companies

Utility companies use your credit report to determine if a down payment is needed for service.


While rent payments don’t typically appear on your credit report, potential landlords might pull your reports to determine whether to give you a lease.


Employers and potential employers may access credit reports, but only if you give written consent. The report they can access would be limited to basic credit information.

Government agencies

A government agency may pull your credit when looking for contact information, determining whether someone qualifies for government aid, or determining how much you can afford in child support.

    What can companies do with credit report data?

    The amount of data and personal information within a credit report means there are many regulations on how companies can use that data, how it must be maintained, and how consumers can gain access to the information about them.

    Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers have the right to request their credit history and to dispute anything that is inaccurate. Those disputes must be investigated by the credit bureaus within 30 days.

    Two government bodies oversee the consumer reporting agencies: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

      Can I limit who can see my credit report?

      Yes, you can do a few things to restrict access to your credit report. 

      • Optout of prescreen offers:  This prevents potential lenders from accessing your credit and mailing offer to you. You can prevent prescreened offers with a request to the credit bureaus or by visiting https://www.optoutprescreen.com/. (Reader Note: opting out of prescreen offers requires your personal information, including name and address. Social security number is requested as well but is optional)

      • Place a freeze on your credit report: A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report.  Note that it does not prevent prescreen offers directly. It’s free and required by law.  Check out this FTC article for more details.  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs

      • Place a lock on your credit report:  Similar to a credit freeze, this is provided as a service by credit bureaus.  The advantage of a lock is that it can usually be added and removed from your credit report faster than a credit freeze.  However, you may enroll in a service from the credit bureau.   

      Elevate your credit score

      Olly improved his credit score by 150 points by only paying $120 in collections.

      Show me how

      To freeze your credit reports, you must contact each of the three major credit bureaus. 

      • Equifax: Visit its website or call 800-685-1111
      • Experian: Visit its website or call 888-397-3742
      • TransUnion: Visit its website or call 888-909-8872