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How to Check Someone’s Credit Score & Why To Do It

If you are renting property or are financially responsible for family members, then it might be a good idea to know how to check someone’s credit score.

Most people understand that their credit score is important to their finances. What some people don’t understand is how other people’s credit can impact their lives. There are multiple reasons for this, which is why it’s essential to understand how to check someone’s credit score.

Most of these scenarios involve inclusion in a financial agreement together, either as counterparts or as members with a shared financial interest.

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In both of these scenarios, you must understand the credit history and financial standing of the person you are dealing with. Ignoring the opportunity to pull their credit score is leaving you in the dark with your finances. The problem is, when people don’t have their finances in an ideal position, they’re not always eager to share that information with people they are involved with.

Here’s a quick run-through of how to check someone’s credit score and why you might want to do it.

Why you should know how to check someone’s credit score

There are numerous reasons you may want to check someone’s credit score, but we’ll focus on two of the most common instances concerning your financial present and future.

Screening Prospective Tenants

If you rent property to a person, you have a right to see their credit report and check if they have a strong history of paying their debts. This information will help you better determine if they are the type of tenant you would like. Looking at a potential tenant’s credit score can give you insight into whether or not the prospective renter will be able to pay both their rent and their bills.

Credit of Family Members

You may legally request the credit reports of your minor children or your aging parents. These are people you either are or may become financially responsible for, and, thus, you need to understand what financial difficulties they have.

If you have a power of attorney or are a court-appointed guardian for an aging parent, you can make a written request for their credit report. The specific documents required can vary, so contacting a credit bureau directly is the first step. This can be an excellent way to monitor for any potential fraud, especially because older individuals are most often targeted, but you need to be careful in doing this.

Hard credit checks will show up on their credit report and negatively impact their score if you check too often.

How to check someone’s credit score

You can access someone else’s credit report by directly contacting one of the credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). Each of these bureaus technically gives their ratings independently, but all three of the scores should be quite similar for the same person.

You will need a valid reason to pull a person’s credit report, and some personal information will also be required to prove that they have authorized the inquiry (this is why landlords almost always ask for Social Security Numbers with rent applications).

Personally, why might you look into someone’s credit report? Have you ever done so before?

*This post was originally published in 2021 and is periodically updated.

Nancy Zambell has spent 30 years educating and helping individual investors navigate the minefields of the financial industry. She has created and/or written numerous investment publications, including UnDiscovered Stocks, UnTapped Opportunities, and Nancy Zambell’s Buried Treasures under $10. Nancy has worked with MoneyShow.com for many years as an editor and interviewer for their on-site video studios.