Your Right to Privacy: A Basic Guide to Legal Rights in an Information Society

By Evan Hendricks; Trudy Hayden et al. | Go to book overview

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Credit Records and Consumer Reports
What is a "credit record"?The term "credit record," in its narrow sense, refers to information describing a person's previous financial transactions which bear on his present creditworthiness. But in its broader and more commonly used sense, the term refers to any information describing a person's financial and employment history, state of health, character, reputation, and style of living that may be used in deciding whether to give that person a loan, credit, an insurance policy, a job, a professional or business license, or some other commercial benefit.The Privacy Commission described six types of information generally found in credit reports.
1. Identifying information : name and spouse's name, Social Security number, address and telephone number;
2. Financial status : amount of income (present and past), employer (present and past), occupation, sources of income;
3. Credit history : previous types, extent, and sources of credit granted;
4. Existing lines of credit : payment habits, outstanding obligations and debts, extent of current lines of credit;
5. Public Record Information : lawsuits, judgments, tax liens, bankruptcies, arrests, convictions (TRW has a policy of not including pending lawsuit or criminal history items);
6. Prior requesters : names of subscribers who requested information on the individual in the past.

While individually many of these items are not particularly sensitive, together they reveal a lot about a person's lifestyle and habits. Credit bureaus can track individuals as they move from neighborhoods, jobs, lifestyles, and income levels.

Credit reports are compiled primarily by credit bureaus, investigative-reporting agencies, and private-detective agencies, which sell their services to "subscribers" -- creditors,

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