Prescription drugs, medical conditions, traffic tickets - companies are now able to learn a lot more about you than just your credit history.
I find that absolutely crazy. I had no idea, said consumer Lauren Kantor.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are at least 400 agencies pulling this kind of information. Ever heard of The Work Number? They offer work histories and income verification to employers and banks. How about the medical information bureau? If you apply for insurance, and give them permission to release your medical history, they can access medical conditions for insurance underwriters.
Kim Gough with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says agencies get data from court files, banks or companies where you have an account.
I don't think most people realize there's so many different agencies and, and data collection services out there right now, said Gough.
The information on these reports is as valuable as what is on your credit report. Negative marks could cost you a bank account, insurance, or even your chance at a job.
And most of the time they don't actually find out about it until something negative happens, said Gough.
If any of the information on your report costs you the job, bank account or apartment you wanted - the companies are required to give you a copy of your report as proof. Stuart Pratt with Consumer Data Trade Association said the information is meant to protect businesses and consumers.
The data in these databases helps us as small business owners to manage risk and make good decisions and ultimately this is really the key opening the door for opportunity for consumers to get what they deserve because of their hard work, because of their good decisions, said Pratt.
Whether you will have a record with these agencies just depends on your history. But federal law says you have a right to a free annual copy of these consumer reports. So get yours and notify the agencies of any errors. You don't want a mistake to cost you later on.
Download a pdf of the list of reporting agencies (requires Adobe Reader) or view the list below.