Can Someone Check Your Credit Without Permission?

By Dave Nyam •  Updated: 03/23/24 •  5 min read

Credit checks are part of financial transaction processes that address issues ranging from loan facilities to job opportunities. They give a brief overview of someone’s financial responsibility or level of trustworthiness. However, the question arises here of whether they can be done without the person’s knowledge. This paper, therefore, tries to scrutinize the legality of unauthorized credit checks

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Can Someone Check Your Credit Without Permission?

So, who can check your credit without your permission in real life? The Fair Credit Reporting Act governs who can access a copy of your report and for what purpose. Generally, checks on your credit require written consent. But there are a few cases where “soft inquiries” or “soft pulls” can be made without formal approval from you. These include preapproved credit offers or account reviews by existing creditors.

Soft inquiries include checking one’s credit report and other businesses viewing it for purposes that include pre-approved offers of credit or checking your credit report for any changes. They do not affect your scores as well. Other inquiries include court orders or requests by federal agencies, like the Department of Defense, if you are a member of the military. It is, however, worth noting that while consent is normally required from you, the FCRA only provides a few provisions making a credit check legally authorized even without any form of consent from you.

If you feel that someone has further checked your credit without proper authorization, you can question and dispute any inquiry that is unauthorized by the credit bureaus.

Is It Illegal To Conduct Credit Checks In South Africa Without Permission?

According to the law, evaluating a person’s loan scores without the individual’s authorization is against the law in SA. According to the National Credit Act (NCA), no one is supposed to access the records concerning another person without clearly high consent. High consent is necessary because of people’s privacy and, most importantly, information concerning their financial records.

Especially this practice of carrying out an underhand check without formally seeking the permission of the party could lead the violators to serious consequences like immense payment of fines or even landing in jail. It is for these reasons that the NCA advocates that one seeks written consent from the one before giving them the right, therefore ensuring that a certain individual is waived information and agrees personally to have a credit check done.

Besides this, legal status allows some specifics to check one’s status, like banks, landlords, and employers. They may only go ahead after obtaining a written go-ahead from the respective person. Such approval is normally requested at the point of a loan, house, or job application, where the credit status of the person is normally checked.

The NCA has strict regulation policies on consent and the right of an individual to withhold their financial information. Therefore, people and organizations need to acquaint themselves with these laws so that they do not wield the sword of the law that tries to keep the secrecy of personal financial information.

How Do I Report Unauthorized Credit Inquiries?

Here is what to do if unauthorized credit inquiries reflect on your report to protect the health of your credit:

What Is Required To Do A Credit Check On Someone?

In South Africa, checking a person’s credit is highly regulated, so this is what is generally needed:

What Information Is Needed To Conduct A Credit Check On Someone?

In judgment, under the NCA Constitution, the following should be adhered to and considered when running any credit check against another.

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