The sites give you access to a wide range of your personal information, with links to your free annual credit report, past insurance claims, health history, checking account info, background checks, previous purchase returns, and your rental history.
Because some of these were new to us, we decided to go through the whole list and try out all of the links Consumer Reports provided. (We didn’t try the free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com, with which most readers should already be familiar.)
ChoiceTrust, which provides free reports on personal property and auto insurance claims, as well as bankruptcies, liens, and any licenses (e.g., firearms, admission to a state medical board, etc.) you have, gave us accurate information quickly.
Chex Systems, which offers free reports on checking and debit history, over drafts, unpaid charges, and so on, was accessible, but does not offer online reports; ours will be arriving in the mail next week. TeleCheck, which provides similar information, had a buggy website that kept clearing form values when we clicked Submit. Encouraging sign from a company that has access to your checking account.
The Retail Equation provides your return history, used by stores to spot potential refund/return scams, but you can only access a free report online if you’ve been denied a return and have a refusal code, otherwise you’ll need to contact them by phone to get your report.
SafeRent and RentBureau both provide consumer information to landlords and property management companies when prospective renters apply for housing. Both sites offer free reports, however, you have to print out and mail in a form to receive your report.
The CR article also offers several phone numbers for companies that maintain your medical records, although when we tried, it was such a formidable labyrinth of phone trees and automated prompts that we up for going through it all.
Taking control of your finances and your personal information requires knowing what agencies are saying about you. Use these resources to spot any fraud, incomplete information, or legitimate red flags that will pop up when you apply for credit, a mortgage, or an apartment.