Your Not-So-Credit Reports
Your credit is about more than just credit use. Lenders want to know about your employment, assets, and income when they make a decision. Employers want to know about your credit use and any public records. Insurers want to know how you use credit and how often you've made insurance claims in the past. You need to make sure all of the different puzzle pieces are arranged to present the most attractive picture. To do this, it's important that you know what people are saying about you.
A company that may say a lot about you is ChoicePoint. ChoicePoint compiles information from a variety of sources to create a consolidated snapshot of who you are. Information comes from credit-reporting companies, insurance agencies, government databases, and more. Most of this information is available for you to view direct from the sources; however, ChoicePoint merges the data so you can see it all in one place.
Your homeowner's and auto insurance claims are shared among insurers. The practice started in order to detect and reduce fraud. For example, it would answer the question, “How many times has this client had his home burn down?” Nowadays, the information is used for additional purposes. If insurance companies find that you make a lot of claims, they don't want to insure you. Likewise, if the home you just bought has had a history of problems, they don't want to insure the home.
In addition to monitoring claims history, ChoicePoint issues insurance scores. These scores are based on information in your credit reports. Auto and homeowner's insurance companies will use the score to decide whether or not to insure you. Somehow, they've found a way to link your credit behavior to your claims behavior. If you've got a bad credit history or certain public records on your reports, you're likely to cost them more.
Think twice before calling your insurance company to inquire about a claim. Simply asking questions about coverage can add a record to your insurance files which may be used against you. Some states are trying to limit this practice, but it just goes to show that you have to be very careful.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can request free annual reports on some of the information ChoicePoint keeps. However, you'll have to pay if you want to get all of your scores and files, and they have a lot of scores and files available. To get your reports, visit ChoicePoint's ChoiceTrust site (
Medical Information Bureau
If your credit report contains information on your credit past, your medical reports will contain history on your medical past. The main place for centralized medical reporting is the Medical Information Bureau (MIB). Many people don't even have a MIB file. You will only have information there if you have applied for individual insurance coverage.
The MIB gets information from insurers and health care providers. When you apply for insurance, you typically disclose any conditions that you've had in the past. In addition, you'll often consent to have the insurance company investigate your past with your health care providers. The information that your health care providers report can end up in the MIB files.
As with your auto and homeowner's insurance, you need to make sure that your MIB files are accurate. Any errors can be costly. For example, when you buy health, life, or long-term care insurance, your MIB history can put you into a much more expensive risk category. The insurer might even reject you altogether. Like many consumer-reporting companies, the MIB will provide you a free report annually, or if anybody has taken adverse action against you based on information held at the MIB.