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Frequently Asked Questions by Topic

Do I receive a full credit report?

Yes. Always. The credit reports we provide with both CL Simple and CL Advantage are complete credit reports. We do not sell reports that are merely a summary, an evaluation, a score, a check, or a recommendation. With CreditLink, you always get a complete credit report.

Which account is right for me?

If you are looking for flexibility in data and pricing, or if you want to access your reports via fax, phone or email, CL Advantage is right for you.

Click here for more information, and to get started with CL Advantage today!

If you are looking for a full credit report with background history and a rental recommendation, and you don't mind waiting for your applicant to do their part, CL Simple is right for you.

Click here for more information, and to get started with CL Simple today!

Can I have both kinds of accounts?

Yes! And here's how:

If you already have a CL Advantage account, just go to our Create Your CL Simple Account page. You can then use your email address to instantly set up your account and begin the screening process.

If you already have a CL Simple account, just go to our Create Your CL Advantage Account page, and fill out the form with your contact information. A CreditLink agent will contact you within one business day to finalize the credentialing process and set up your account online.

Why do I need a credit report?

By obtaining a credit report, you can make an informed decision based on facts rather than speculation. On a credit report you can see the payment history and outstanding balances on all of your applicant's closed and open accounts, and any public records, such as evictions, other civil judgments, or tax liens. A credit report will also verify your applicant's identity by comparing the identity data given to you by the applicant (name, date of birth, social security number, employer, alias identification, and addresses) with what is on file with the credit bureau. Additionally, the FICO or other Credit Risk Score gives you a picture of how, compared to other consumers, the applicant has handled recent credit transactions.

Why do I need a criminal background report?

While a credit report will give you a good look at your prospective tenant's financial history, it says little about the applicant's background. A criminal background report provides the information necessary to assess whether or not the prospective tenant will be a safe addition to your rental community. Some rental subsidy programs may require you to screen for criminal history, as they prohibit landlords from renting to a tenant who has been arrested for controlled substance or sex crimes.

Should I choose to screen only the applicants who seem risky?

It is required by Federal and many State Fair Housing laws that any screening criteria should be applied consistently to all applicants. This means you should screen all of your applicants using the same methods and standards.

What kind of information do I need from an applicant in order to obtain a credit report?

With CL Advantage, you must first have the applicant's consent in writing to request a credit report. Also, at a minimum, you will want the applicant's name, social security number, current address, and date of birth - the more identifying information you provide, the more detailed and accurate the report will be.

With CL Simple, we recommend that your applicant completes a rental application, so that you have their consent in writing, and you can compare their information from the rental application to your CL Simple report. Other than that, all you need is your applicant's email address.

Where can I get a good Rental Application?

We provide a detailed Rental Application that you can use. It was designed to give you all of the information you need to make an informed tenant screening decision, and to aid in skiptracing in the event that you later need to locate the applicant. You might also want to check with your attorney to make sure you are meeting all jurisdictional requirements.

Can I charge extra fees for the background and credit reports?

In California, Civil Code section 1950.6 limits the fee that owners can charge a prospective tenant to cover the costs of screenings. The fee cannot be more than the actual out-of-pocket costs of gathering information on the applicant. For 2014, the California Apartment Association has calculated that the maximum fee a landlord may charge an applicant is $45.16. The fees in your state may differ. Please check with your attorney regarding local laws and regulations.

What should I do with the applicant's credit report once I have made my decision?

Effective June 1, 2005, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) calls for the proper disposal of information in consumer reports and records to protect against "unauthorized access to or use of the information."

The standard for the proper disposal of information derived from a consumer credit report is flexible, and allows the organizations and individuals covered by the Rule to determine what measures are reasonable based on the sensitivity of the information, the costs and benefits of different disposal methods, and changes in technology. In other words, you may destroy the documents however you see fit, as long as they have been rendered unreadable and cannot be reconstructed.

Some jurisdictions require that you keep the records on file for a period of time. If you are a CreditLink client, your service agreement dictates that you must keep the records on file for a minimum of five years. For more information, check with your legal counsel.

The credit report I received on an applicant had negative information and I chose not to rent to them. What do I do now?

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are required to notify a denied applicant in writing. You will need to send or give each applicant a Notice of Adverse Action and to keep a copy in your file to document your compliance with the law. You can use our form or any other recommended by your attorney, but compliance with Federal and other jurisdictional requirements is your responsibility. This is extremely important for full compliance with Fair Housing laws.

An applicant whom I have denied wants to know what was reported on their credit. What should I do?

A denied applicant may, within 60 days of the date of the report, request a copy of the credit report. The information needed for an applicant to request a report should be provided on the Notice of Adverse Action. You can use our form, or any other recommended by your attorney, but compliance with Federal and other jurisdictional requirements is your responsibility.

Can I give the applicant a copy of their credit report?

In California, pursuant to California Civil Code 1950.6(f), if the applicant has paid a screening fee and requested it, you must provide a copy of the credit report. Other jurisdictions may have different requirements. For more information, check with your legal counsel.

An applicant has no prior credit history but I still want to rent to them. Am I allowed to charge a higher security deposit?

You can choose to rent to an applicant on terms that are different than your normal terms (for example, charging a higher security deposit or rent, or offering a shorter rental term) as long as you provide a Risk Based Pricing Notice. You can use our form, or any other recommended by your attorney, but compliance with Federal and other jurisdictional requirements is your responsibility.

What should I do if my applicant tells me they have put a 'security freeze' on their credit report?

For access to CL Advantage reports, if your applicant has placed a security freeze on their credit report, they will need to call TransUnion (or the third party service they used to have the freeze placed) and ask for the freeze to be temporarily lifted, or for a temporary password. If the freeze is lifted, you can immediately submit your credit request as usual.  If they obtain a password, call us with the password and we will be able to get the report for you.

If you already requested the credit history and you were unable to retrieve their report due to a security freeze, please do not resubmit your request or your account will be charged for a second report. Call our office at 1-800-446-1421 and let a representative know that you will need the report reprocessed.

With CL Simple, the security freeze will not be an issue since the applicant is authorizing the release of their credit history.

I only have a small number of properties. Can I still use CL Advantage?

Yes, a CL Advantage account is flexible and works well for landlords with any number of properties, small or large.

How do I pay for CL Advantage reports?

You can pay with a credit card or a check. You are billed at the end of every month if you have a balance due, and you can get the bill by mail, or you can go "paperless" and we will send you an email when your bill is ready to be viewed online. You can also set up your account to auto-pay by credit card on the same day each month. Per your Service Agreement, there is a fee for late payments.

How long does it take to open a new CL Advantage account?

To open a CL Advantage account you must first comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act requirements, including the need for documentation and an on-site inspection at your principle place of business. The credentialing process generally takes only an hour or two, depending on how quick you are at filling out paperwork. Once you are a CL Advantage client, you can request a screening and receive the results in a matter of minutes.

Why do I have to have an on-site inspection?

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the requirements of the credit bureaus, an on-site inspection is necessary for you to have access to credit reports. The objective is to ensure that the sensitive information is obtained for a legitimate purpose and is properly safeguarded. This is not a company policy, but rather a necessary compliance measure dictated by the credit bureaus.

What happens during the on-site inspection?

The on-site inspection is to assure that your records are stored in a safe location with adequate security. We will also check to see that you have an appropriate way of disposing of records, such as a shredder or shredding service. Essentially, we need to be sure that the reports you receive can only be accessed by you or someone authorized by you.

The inspection process itself takes an average of 15-20 minutes. The inspector will ask a few questions, take a few photos of your office - signage and brochures (if any), interior workspace, document storage, and document disposal - and have you sign an Inspection Completion Form. Once the process is complete, the results will be submitted back to us for processing.

Will the inspector be looking at my rental property?

No, the inspector will only be reviewing your principal place of business. The on-site inspection has nothing to do with your rental property - it is designed to make sure that the reports you obtain are housed in a safe and secure manner.

What is my "principal place of business"?

This is the place where the records and files pertaining to your rentals are kept. This can be either an office building or a home office. If you have a home office, please use your home address as your principal place of business when you complete our forms.

After completing the on-site inspection, how long will I be credentialed?

At this time, your credential never expires. However, if your principal place of business changes locations, you will be required to complete another inspection. (Remember, this is a requirement of the credit bureaus, and if there are changes in Federal law or their internal policies, this may change.)

What is a Letter of Intent?

The Letter of Intent simply states the purpose you have for requesting reports, how many screenings you plan to do monthly, and the anticipated local, regional, or national scope of the screenings. A Sample Letter will be provided in your Client Application Package, to be returned to us on your company letterhead. If you do not have company letterhead, you may use a letter on plain paper as long as your business name and address are at the top.

What is CL Simple?

CL Simple is an online tenant screening solution that allows you to immediately screen applicants. It sends an electronic request to your applicant's email address asking them to release their credit and criminal information to you. Once they have authorized the release, you will receive a Full Credit Report with Tenant Risk Score, Eviction records for money judgments, Nationwide Criminal Background report, and tailored Rental Recommendation.

Why should I use CL Simple instead of "TransUnion SmartMove Quick Check Plus Tenant Screening"?

You will save money - We charge only $29.95 instead of the $35 you would pay for SmartMove. The data in the two reports is identical and comes directly from TransUnion. You will save time - Using our simple interface, it will take you only a few minutes to complete the process. Your data will be secure in our hands. We adhere to a strict privacy policy that was designed with your peace of mind as a top priority. It is easy - Our report is easier to read, and our name is easier to say. Sometimes less is more!

How is the CL Simple recommendation decided?

The CL Simple recommendation is based on the leasing criteria you set, coupled with the applicant's stated current income and assets. Once the applicant authorizes their information, the returned data is matched with the leasing criteria you set for the property. The recommendation will tell you whether the credit bureau thinks the applicant is a good risk.

What is included in my CL Simple screening?

With CL Simple you receive:

  • Full Credit Report with Tenant Risk Score
  • Evictions resulting in Money Judgments
  • National Criminal Background including:
    • Statewide search of 46 available states
    • America’s Most Wanted
    • FBI’s Most Wanted
    • National Sex Offender Public Registry
    • U.S. Marshals Drug Enforcement Administration
    • Any criminal record ranging from a traffic ticket to felony charges
    • U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
    • U.S. Secret Service
    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
    • U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
  • Rental Recommendation tailored for your property according to your criteria
  • 24/7 access to all of your reports and data

 

I am a renter looking to screen a potential housemate. How do I use CL Simple?

The CL Simple product is designed to give you all of the data you need to screen a housemate. Please refer to our What is CL Simple? page for more information on how to screen a housemate.

I want to screen multiple applicants who will be living together in my property. Is that possible?

Yes! To screen multiple applicants for the same property simply add each applicant's email address before submitting the request. You will receive a recommendation based on the combined income of all applicants, and the individual credit reports and background checks.

How long does the screening process take from start to finish?

Once your applicant has authorized the screening, you will receive the results instantaneously. The timing is dependent on your applicant.

How does payment work for this product?

CL Simple is a pay-as-you-go service. You pay by credit card for each screening at the time it is requested. Before you submit a tenant screening, we recommend that you collect the fee from your applicant in order to ensure coverage for the report.

Why can't I complete the screening process without the applicant's involvement?

CL Simple operates by having the applicant authenticate themselves to the credit bureau in order for you to obtain the report. Without their authentication, the information cannot be released to you.

If you are interested in a product that does not include the applicant's involvement, please see our What is CL Advantage? page for a list of available products.

My applicant does not have a computer. How can I use CL Simple to screen them?

If your tenant does not have a computer, they can access our site from any computer that has an Internet connection, such as one at a library, or yours.

My applicant does not have an email address. Can I still use CL Simple?

Although CL Simple is solely an online product, and it is necessary for your applicant to have an email address, it can be a brand new address. If your applicant does not already have an email address, we recommend that they create an email account with a trusted email service provider such as Gmail.com, Hotmail.com, or Yahoo.com. Once the address is created, you can use it to initiate the screening, and they can immediately log in at our website to authenticate themselves with the credit bureau.

If you have additional questions regarding the email address requirement, please contact a Customer Service Representative at 1-800-446-1421.

My applicants are sharing an email account. Can I screen both of them using the same email address?

You cannot screen multiple people using the same email address, as each applicant must create an account with the credit bureau that is uniquely linked to them through their email address.

My applicant does not have a social security number. Can I still screen them using CL Simple?

No. At this time, CL Simple only has the ability to process an applicant who has a valid U.S. Social Security number.

If you are interested in products that will work with a Tax ID number, or no number at all, please see our What is CL Advantage? page for a list of available products.

What if I entered the applicant's email address incorrectly?

You can edit an applicant's email address so long as you have not received the report. From your Account Home page, click on the "Edit" link for the application, and then on the blue "Edit" button next to the incorrect email address. Type the correct email address in the new field. Since this is not treated as a new request, there is no additional charge.

I requested a tenant screening and I want to cancel it. Do I get a refund?

Refunds will not be granted for canceled applications.

We recommend collecting the fee from each applicant before requesting a screening in order to ensure coverage for all reports.

The applicant hasn't received a screening request in their email from CL Simple. What now?

If your applicant has not received an email from CL Simple within a reasonable amount of time (delays in email can be caused by several anti-spam techniques or by other technical reasons), review your application and verify the applicant's email address. If the address is correct, have the applicant go directly to http://creditlink.com/applicants.html for instructions on creating an applicant account with the credit bureau.

My applicant came back with a criminal match. How do I know for sure that it is them?

The criminal data is matched based on your applicant's name and date of birth. It is possible for there to be multiple individuals with the same data. Based on the jurisdiction, you may be able to use the information provided to learn more about the case from the specific court website. And of course you can always call our customer service team at 1-800-446-1421.

I received my applicant's report, but I do not understand the results. Help!

We recommend that you first review our CL Advantage sample Credit History. If you still have questions, please contact our customer service team at 1-800-446-1421.

What does it mean when the credit report says "no record found"?

If a credit report comes back with "no record found," it can mean one of several things. Sometimes this is due to a typographical error in the data provided, so be sure to double-check the information before you submit it to us. Other times the applicant may not have any kind of established credit. For example, if the applicant has only recently turned 18, or is a recent immigrant, it is unlikely that he or she will have an established credit record.

What do the codes in the Identity Integrity section mean?

There are many possible items returned in this section of the Credit History. The items we are most frequently asked about are:

Some or All Data Suppressed Because of Failure to Pass California Subject Selection Criteria - More Identification Information Is Needed: There is a hold placed on the file by the credit bureau, possibly due to identity fraud. The applicant should contact TransUnion Consumer Relations by calling 1-800-916-8800.

Credit Data Suppressed: There is a hold placed on the file by the credit bureau, possibly due to identity fraud. The applicant should contact TransUnion Consumer Relations by calling 1-800-916-8800.

SSN Mismatch (also, SSN match differs by 1 digit, SSN match differs by 2 digits): The social security number differs by more than 2 digits. When a SSN differs by one digit, it is usually a typographical or transcription error, i.e. mistaking a seven for a one. When it is a two digit difference, it is likely a transposition.

Other possible results include:

  • All data returned
  • No SSN on file
  • No credit data on file
  • Exact SSN Match
  • Credit data frozen by individual. An authorized code is required.
  • Credit data might belong to a minor; verify individual
  • Credit data not returned per (name of state) law about disputed data

 

If you have any additional questions regarding the Identity Integrity section of the report, please contact a Customer Service Representative at 1-800-446-1421.

Why doesn't my applicant have a FICO score?

The FICO score is a projection based on the previous six months of activity. If there has been no activity, there is nothing to base this projection on, and there will be no FICO score. If your applicant insists that they should have a FICO score, check to see if they have recently opened any new lines of credit. If the lines of credit are less than six months old, this can also result in no FICO score. In addition, some companies do not report credit activity to the credit bureaus, and therefore may not show up on a credit report.

How long will my reports and data be available online?

All of your data will be maintained at our site for sixty (60) days. Be sure to save anything you may want to access for a longer time.

My applicant is saying the information on the credit report is incorrect. What should I do?

First, verify all of the information your applicant provided in order to make sure you have the correct credit report. Double check the SSN, address, and the applicant's full name with the credit report you received. If all of this information is correct, then have your applicant call us at 800-446-1421. If you are declining your applicant because of the information on their report, be sure to give them a completed Notice of Adverse Action.

I can't get to the LogIn page. What should I do?

Recent discovery of security vulnerablities has caused us to up our game. Internet Explorer version 10 and earlier, and older versions of some other browsers, cannot access our secure pages. We recommend updating your browser regularly, and using either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Specifically, only TLS versions 1.1 or 1.2 will work at secure websites, and a strong browser is needed to have this level of security.

I forgot my password. What do I do?

Please go to the Log-In page and click on the "Forgot Password?" button. You will receive an email prompting you to create a new password.

Why does it say "Your password is too old" when I log in to my account?

In order to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Credit Bureau's security requirements, your password must be updated every 90 days. Sorry.

I have a question about my bill.

For questions regarding your bill, please contact a Customer Service Representative at 1-800-446-1421.

I have not yet received the report results. What do I do?

If you have purchased a CL Advantage product, your report should be returned to you within a matter of minutes. If you have faxed in your request, there may be a short delay. Please contact a Customer Service Representative for assistance at 1-800-446-1421 if you have not received your report within an hour.

If you have purchased a CL Simple product, your report will be ready as soon as your applicant has completed the authentication process. If your applicant has already done so, and the report is still not available at your account, please contact a Customer Service Representative for assistance at 1-800-446-1421.