15-Minute Resolution #3: Check Your Free Consumer & Credit Reports

The most well known part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT act) is that you can get a free copy of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus once every 12 months. However, there are also several other consumer databases that you should check as well, as they also can have a significant financial impact.

Credit History
You know the drill. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request your free credit reports. Some people like to get all three at once (like me) and others like to space it out to one every 4 months. As usual, the main thing is to do it today. Remember, we’re trying to knock these resolutions out right away!

ChexSystems Banking History
ChexSystems is a consumer information database used by an estimated 80-90% of all banks to help determine the risk of opening new accounts. Think of it as the bank’s version of a credit bureau. If a person commits check fraud or overdraws their account, it will be listed here. In addition, the simple act of opening or closing a bank account may be recorded in their database. Getting a negative ChexSystems record can leave you blacklisted from opening bank accounts at most major banks.

Get your free ChexSystems consumer report here.

Medical History Used For Insurance Underwriting
MIB (previously known as Medical Information Bureau) is run by 470 insurance companies and has a “primary mission of detecting and deterring fraud that may occur in the course of obtaining life, health, disability income, critical illness, and long-term care insurance.” They record information of “underwriting significance” for those who have applied for life and health insurance with MIB member companies. If you have not applied for individually underwritten life, health, or disability income insurance during the preceding seven year period, then you probably don’t have a record.

Get your free MIB consumer file here.

Insurance Claims History
CLUE stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, and they collect information that is used to calculate your potential risk of loss and thus your insurance premiums. You can also find out about previous claims on the house you are currently renting or recently bought, even if they weren’t made by you.

The C.L.U.E. ®Personal Property report provides a seven year history of losses associated with an individual and his/her personal property. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.

The C.L.U.E. ®Auto report provides a seven year history of automobile insurance losses associated with an individual. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.

Get your free CLUE Auto and Personal Property Reports here.

In addition, you should also request your free A-PLUS report (Automated Property Loss Underwriting System), which is a smaller database that also contains information about property loss claims.

Employment History
When a potential employer runs a background check through ChoicePoint, this is the information they see. It doesn’t seem to claim be comprehensive, but you should still check for potentially negative data.

The ChoicePoint Workplace Solutions Inc. Employment History report contains information related to your employment history as well as other information regarding your background. [...] Our files would only contain information on you if ChoicePoint provided your Employment History Report to an employer.

Get your free ChoicePoint employment history report here.

Tenant History
This report can be important if you are a renter and someone runs a background check on you at ChoicePoint.

The Resident Data Inc. Tenant History report contains information related to your tenant history as well as other information regarding your background. [...] Our files would only contain information on you if ChoicePoint provided your Tenant History Report to a housing provider.

Get your free ChoicePoint tenant history report here.

Scared yet? At least now you know what Big Brother does.

See the rest of my 2010 Instant New Year’s Resolutions here!


  1. Rick in San Francisco says:

    Hi, Jonathan – please never underestimate the important role that your blog has on the lives of many of your readers – this post is a case in point: wonderful detail, clear summaries, and an encouraging push to get something done TODAY. Thank you many times over for the good work you are doing.

  2. NoMoreWork says:

    I like this series of “Instant” New Year’s Resolutions. I didn’t know about the free Tenant History Report. I’m on the lookout for a new rental so it should help to know what is on there.

    On another note, did I miss the 2009 year end Net Worth Update?!!!! Have you ever thought about plotting you net worth growth on a year over year basis? I started doing this not too long back to look for long term and specific period (Summer, Fall…) growth trends.

  3. This is a great series and specifically- a great post. I never realized all this personal information was just a click away. I always figured that this type of info was stored in highly classified vaults with the CIA! This is a real eye-opener!

  4. @Rick, NoMoreWork, James – Thanks! I appreciate the appreciation. :)

    No, I haven’t done a year-end update yet. I’m trying to design a better way to report it, but haven’t worked out all the kinks yet.

  5. [OT] Jonathan, do you have info regarding the introduction of fees for people who pay their credit cards in full every month, or those who don’t use their credit card for awhile? Any advice on this subject?

  6. Wow! I had no idea that one could obtain a Medical History, Insurance History, Employment History or Tenant History report.

    Thanks so much for letting us know.

  7. Hi Jonathan,

    I really like your blog, provides great information and tips for daily challenges regarding finances.

    Keep up the good job..

  8. Michael JA says:

    Jonathan, I love your 15-minute resolutions. Great idea, thanks.

    On my Experian report, it separates out “requests viewed by others” and “requests viewed only by you” when I seek out who has peeked at my credit. In the “requests viewed only by you” section, it appears that my credit card providers (“CAP ONE” and “AMEX”) are looking at my report at least once, sometimes twice, a month. I have no delinquent payment history and pay my balances in full each month. Is this common? Anyone have any ideas why they do this?

  9. Michael JA, i just got my Experian report, and noticed that Amex polled me once a month in 2008 and four times at the end of 2009, and i’ve never even had a card with them. I’m guessing this falls under the “other creditors who want to offer you preapproved credit” bullet.

  10. Ahh, posts like this one is why I love your blog Jonathan!
    Am in the process of obtaining all my reports now…

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