Some people assume their credit score is completely confidential, while others believe that anyone who wants to can take a peek. The truth is somewhere in between.
In many cases, you have to give permission for a person or institution to do a hard pull on your credit report. However, this isn’t always true, particularly when it comes to your business credit score. Let’s dive into the details of who can see your credit score.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) places restrictions on who can pull a copy of your credit report. The general public can’t check your credit report or score without your written permission. However, the following types of businesses may do so if they have a legitimate reason:
While your credit report isn’t fair game for everyone, a business doesn’t necessarily need your permission to pull your credit. Almost every time you apply for a credit card or loan, the lender will run a hard check on your credit.
However, soft credit checks often happen without your knowledge. Most commonly, a company might check your credit to determine whether or not you might qualify for a current promotion, such as a low-interest loan or a rewards credit card. When you receive offers stating that you’ve “pre-qualified” for something like this, it’s usually because that lender ran a soft pull on your credit.
There is a difference between a lender pulling your credit report because you applied for credit and doing so to see if you qualify for an offer. The former is considered a hard pull on your credit, and it shows up on your credit report. It can also impact your credit score, causing it to decrease slightly, although the decrease is temporary. On the other hand, a soft pull on your credit report, like the ones performed by lenders to check if you’re pre-qualified or when you check your credit, won’t show up on your credit report or impact your credit score.
If you run a business, there’s a chance that your business has a credit score just like you do. However, business credit is different from personal credit. Most notably, your business credit report is public information. This means that anyone, from a vendor to a consumer, can see your business credit score—as long as they pay for it.
The major credit bureaus that provide business credit scores, which include Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet, all offer business credit reports that anyone can pull for a fee. That’s why it’s so important to check your business credit score regularly and to work on building your business credit score if it’s not where you want it to be. Apart from helping you qualify for financing at lower rates, it’s also one way that the general public can determine your business’s financial health.