Friday, July 24, 2009

Beyond credit reports...our darkest secrets revealed

You remember that overdue library book in fifth grade. Does your potential employer know? Here's how to find out.

Most of us know about our right to look at free copies of our credit history and correct any mistakes lenders might find there. But the same Fair Credit Reporting Act that guarantees that right also requires other consumer reporting agencies to similarly show you their records of your insurance history, banking records, residential history, motor vehicles and other titled property you've owned and criminal past, if you have even a hint of one.

Employers look at this stuff. So if you are among the more than 10 percent of us for whom filling out job applications is becoming a job itself, you might want to pull your own records to see what they see. As with credit reports, you get one free copy a year, and more if you are rejected for a job, loan or something else because of information on the reports.

LexisNexis ChoicePoint is a good place to start. It provides a whole slab of personal information about you, based on public records plus the information you authorized when you clicked an ''agree to terms" box sometime in your life. LexisNexis also compiles what it calls Accurint reports that dig beyond obvious public records into more detail about where you live and what you own.

ChexSystems at drills into your banking history to look for blemishes.
And finally, there is the Insurance Services Office, which tracks your insurance claims history for the last seven years.

Start sooner rather than later if you want to review these records. Many providers send reports by traditional mail only, which may take anywhere between two and eight weeks to reach you.

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