Before discussing who is allowed to access your credit report, it’s important to understand the difference between a “hard pull” and a “soft pull.”
What is a “hard pull” on my credit report?
A “hard pull” or “hard inquiry” can ONLY occur with explicit permission by the consumer.
Before a lender will issue you credit, it will do a hard pull on your credit report to determine your credit-worthiness.
These hard pulls can lower your credit score by a few points, especially if there are a lot of them over a short period of time (1-2 years). They fall off your report after two years, and after one year, they cease to impact your score.
Types of hard inquiries you might give permission for include:
- Security clearance
- Residential lease
- A new job or promotion
- Applying for credit of any kind
Types of hard inquiries that are NOT permitted (on penalty of damages) include:
- A company or its representative trying to get a look at your credit before you express any interest in applying for credit or leasing with them.
- A creditor doing a hard pull on your report after your account has been closed, or after it has been discharged in bankruptcy, which terminates your relationship.
A soft pull or soft inquiry happens when you or someone you authorize (like a potential employer) checks your credit report. For example, a soft pull occurs when:
- You check your own credit
- One of your “current creditors” checks your credit
- You apply for a soft-pull pre-approval with a creditor
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits anyone from accessing your credit report without your explicit consent, and for a good reason. A credit report contains highly personal information, including your current and past addresses, birthdate, employment history, social security number, telephone numbers, along with your entire financial history that could cause havoc in your life in the wrong hands.
After bankruptcy, creditors have no personal business relationship with debtors because the bankruptcy has erased the underlying debt. Too often, creditors with no legitimate business reason access a debtor’s credit report and impermissibly obtain information relating to a debtor’s personal and individual credit accounts, including their payment history, individual credit accounts, and credit worthiness.
Congress could not have made it clearer that FCRA was intended to protect consumer privacy by preventing the dissemination of consumer credit information to third parties. Congress intended to protect a consumer’s credit information to the greatest extent practicable and to prohibit access where there was no legitimate business or statutorily-allowed purpose.
Creditors Eavesdropping After Bankruptcy!
An account listed in a bankruptcy case is erased, and the creditor/debtor relationship is terminated as the pre-bankruptcy account no longer exists. It goes without saying that a creditor does not have a “legitimate business need” to review a debtor’s credit information in connection with a debt that had been discharged in bankruptcy.
I see soft pulls on my credit report after bankruptcy. What do I do?
Creditors have no permissible purpose to access your personal information after bankruptcy. Doing so is an invasion of privacy – a clear violation of the statute entitling you up to $1,000 in damages under the FCRA.
I can’t get the credit bureaus to listen to me. What do I do?
It’s free to chat with me about your options – you can call or text me at 215.551.7109, or drop me a line.