Banking Category Banking: the easy, simple banking guide

How to run a credit check on somebody

Whether you run a company that extends credit to customers, or you choose to rent out a property, many situations justify checking someone's credit report.

A person's credit report says a lot about them.

This often determines whether they're responsible with money and thus creditworthy.

There are several ways to check a person's credit. But before pulling someone's report, know certain guidelines.

Ask for permission. It's against the law to check someone's credit report without their permission. You can verbally notify the individual of a credit report, or include this information on a written contract. The words, "subject to credit approval" must be visible on the contract. By signing his or her name, the individual agrees to a credit check.

Get a Social Security number. To obtain a person's credit report, you'll need to obtain personal information. Ask the individual to write down his full name, Social Security number and home address.

Subscribe to a credit report service. Several websites and online services such as AAA Credit Screening Services provide credit checks for businesses, landlords and individuals for a monthly or annual fee. They'll provide a seven-year credit history, and you'll be able to see public records such as judgments, liens and bankruptcies.

Request reports from the major credit bureaus. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax (see Resoureces) also provide credit reports to businesses, landlords and individuals. If you need to check someone's credit history, write a letter to one of the bureaus and request a report or make an online request. Include detail information in your letter. Introduce yourself, and explain the reasons behind requesting the report. List the individual's full name, SSN and home address. Individual reports cost between £5 and £9.