There are strict limits on when someone can access your credit report. In order to get your credit report from a credit bureau, a person or business must prove to the credit bureau that they have a "permissible purpose." These permissible purposes include:
- To evaluate a request by you for credit, such as an application for a mortgage, credit card, auto loan, or line of credit at a retail store;
- To review or collect on a credit account you have already opened. This can include debt collection;
- Employment-related purposes, but only in very limited circumstances in Illinois. For example, in Illinois credit reports can be requested for manager positions or positions where you are handling large sums of money, but not for many other types of jobs;
- In connection with a "firm offer" of credit or insurance, which is something more specific than just a regular advertisement for credit or insurance. It's an offer with specific terms that you will be given if you meet certain qualification criteria for the offer, such as a credit score above a certain number. Firm offers include "prescreened" credit card offers that you may receive in the mail;
- When you have a state or federal license or benefit;
- By an agency enforcing child support payment; or
- If you agree in writing to allow someone (whether an individual or business) to access your report This allows that person or business to then use your report however they want.
In Illinois, most potential and current employers are not allowed to get a copy of your credit report. Illinois prohibits most employers from making employment decisions based on your credit history. However, employers can get a copy of your credit report and make decisions based on that credit report for certain types of jobs. For more information, please see Can they check my credit when I apply for a job?
If someone has requested a copy of your report, that inquiry will appear on the report. When looking at your own report, you can, therefore, check who has seen your credit report. Creditors looking at the report may also use that inquiry information in their evaluation of you, such as to see whether you may be applying for multiple credit accounts at the same time, and therefore may be taking on too much debt.
If someone receives your report without a permissible purpose, you can sue them. You should talk to a lawyer.
Updated: July 2017