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I have a credit report from TransUnion that contains:

  1. My real name, current and past addresses
  2. Current and past credit card accounts, last 12 monthly balances and payments
  3. My past mortgage
  4. Past credit queries by banks and other credit providers

A landlord in the United States wishes me to submit this report to him. All of my info above (except for my name of course) pertains to another country that I'm moving from.

What risks should I be concerned about with this submission?

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It's pretty common in the USA that landlords want to know your credit history before they let you sign a lease. They want to know how much you make as well as how much debt you have so they can verify your ability to pay rent. Tenants tend to have pretty strong protections in the USA (some states more than others), and the cost of having a bad tenant can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The landlord usually has fixed costs that continue regardless of whether or not they're paid (mortgage, insurance, certain utilities), so if a tenant refuses or is unable to pay their rent they're not just out the cost of that rent, they also have to pay those substantial fixed costs out of pocket: essentially they lose two month's rent for every month a tenant doesn't pay. If the tenant refuses to move out then the landlord needs to go through the legal process of eviction, which can take months or up to a year, all the while the tenant isn't paying.

My only concern about your story is that the landlord wants you to submit your credit report to them. Typically the credit report is gotten directly from the credit bureaus, otherwise you could falsify the information and send him a fake. All of the major credit bureaus in the US market their services directly to landlords:

https://www.transunion.com/product/smartmove

https://www.equifax.com/business/resident-and-tenant-screening/

https://connect.experian.com/credit-check/landlord-credit-check.html

Your landlord might ask for your social security number (or whatever your country's equivalent is). However, services now exist that allow your landlord to get your credit history without handing over your personally identifying information. The landlord just needs your email, then the credit bureau verifies your identity directly and sends your landlord a verified report that does not include your personally identifying information.

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  • I'm interested in your last paragraph. What do you mean please when you say "without handing over your personally identifying information"? I mean of course I don't mind the landlord knowing who I am (that's completely reasonable!), I just don't want to hand over more information than I have to. Given the info described in items #1-#4 in my question, does it sound like a standard menu of item that landlords in the States are expected to receive from prospective tenants? – yurnero Feb 28 at 2:30
  • @yurnero It used to be (roughly pre-2010) that if you wanted to run a credit report on a tenant you would need their social security number (which is kind of, but not exactly, a national ID number in the USA). This is risky for potential tenants, because a rental application plus social security number contains everything you'd need if you wanted to steal their identity. – David Feb 28 at 2:34
  • Thanks, David. I triple-checked, this report does not contain my country's equivalent to the US SSN. With your assurance of the common place of this practice, I will pass the info over to the owner. – yurnero Feb 28 at 2:36
  • @yurnero Yes, all of that information would be available on a standard credit report. You can't pick and chose what information to include on a credit report, so the landlord would run that report and they'd get all of that information, regardless of whether they care or not. And yes, landlords do care about your previous addresses because someone who moves around a lot might be a bad tenant. I don't know if they would care about your other credit checks, but like I said, they can't pick and chose what information they get. – David Feb 28 at 2:38

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