Most consumers are aware of the three major credit reporting companies that generate the scores used in qualifying borrowers for loans. What they may not know is that Equifax, Experian and Transunion are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tracking and reporting consumer behavior.
There's a whole slew of other companies in the business of monitoring the behavior of individual consumers and what they report can have a significant effect not only on your ability to obtain credit, but for obtaining insurance, employment and in other financial situations as well.
Known as "specialty reporting companies," many of them focus on specific types of records, such tenant histories, utility payments, insurance claims, medical claims, retail credit and others. Some may be used by lenders to evaluate you for a mortgage or other credit, while others may be used in setting insurance rates, evaluating potential renters, hiring decisions and more.
Many of these will provide you a free copy of your report every 12 months, per the requirements of the Fair Credit Act. Those exempt from the Act must still provide you a report but may charge a fee, currently of as much as $11.50. In any event, if you have been adversely affected by information in their report (denied insurance, for example), you are entitled to a free copy regardless.
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPB) has compiled information on many of these firms, including the type of records they track and contact information for consumers seeking their records. Some of the more relevant ones for consumers seeking mortgage loans include:
Supplemental/Alternative Credit Reports
Companies in this category gather information that may have bearing on a consumer's ability to repay a loan, beyond that reported by the three primary credit reporting agencies. Information reported may include bill payments, employment history, bank account data, court records, property records, tax payments, collection accounts, rental applications, bankruptcies, liens and child support obligations.
Check Screening and History
Companies in this category may track information on check writing histories and account openings and closures, sometimes including the reasons for closures. This information may be used by banks and credit unions in processing applications for new accounts, as well as by retailers and gambling establishments in determining whether to accept checks.
These companies provide tenant background and screening services for landlords and may include various aspects of one's tenant history, including rent payments, damages, lease violations and the like.
Payday Loans and Retail Self-Financing
These companies track consumer histories and gather other data related to payday loans and high-risk lending. They may include records from check cashing services, furniture store financing, auto loans, non-prime mortgage and credit card lenders, credit unions, telecom/cable companies and others.
Further information and contacts
Other categories include companies that provide auto and health insurance records, and provide pre-screening histories for employers, and information on a consumer's utility payment history as well.
More detailed information, including availability of personal records and details of what sort of data various companies track, as well as web sites, addresses and phone contact information, is available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at this link.