progress indicator

Frequently Asked Questions by Topic

Which account is right for me?

The CL Advantage account offers flexibility in data and pricing with a timely turnaround. In addition, you can access your reports via fax, phone or email.

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

The CL Simple account offers a full credit report, nationwide background history and a rental recommendation, upon authorization of your applicant.

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

You are welcome to test out both accounts and find the one that best suits your needs. The accounts do not overlap and can be started at any time.

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.

Why do I need a credit/criminal background 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. In 2017, the California Apartment Association calculated that the maximum fee a landlord may charge an applicant is $47.72. 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."

You may destroy the documents however you see fit, as long as they have been rendered unreadable and cannot be reconstructed (e.g. shredder, fireplace, shredding service).

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.

What should I do if I choose to deny an applicant?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

On the credit report, what does "Credit Data Frozen by Individual" mean?

A credit freeze allows an individual to control how the credit bureaus sell their data. The freeze locks the data at the bureau until permission is given for release. The applicant 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 (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.

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.

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. The applicant can get more information about items on their credit report by contacting TransUnion’s Dispute line at (800) 916-8800 – option 4. If you are declining your applicant because of the information on their report, be sure to give them a completed Notice of Adverse Action.

How long will my reports 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.

How do I view my reports once they are run?

Reports will be viewable from your Account Home page once you log in.

For CL Advantage users, you may view the report by clicking the report link under the request. This will bring the report up as a pdf which can be saved or printed.

For CL Simple clients, you may view the report by clicking the “view” link next to the request. This will take you to the Report Summary where you can view the credit report, background report, and recommendation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

 

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

The applicant has failed to authenticate themselves. Can we still complete the report?

Yes! The applicant will have to authenticate themselves with the credit bureau directly. They can contact TransUnion’s Smartmove support at 866-775-0961. The applicant may have to provide documents for verification.

If the applicant does not have a SSN, the report cannot be completed. CL Simple only has the ability to process an applicant who has a valid U.S. Social Security number.

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!

When I go to screen an applicant it takes me back to the log in page. How can I fix this?

In order to fix this issue, you will need to clear the cache on your browser. If you do not know how to take care of this, please refer to the following guides:

Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge

Mozilla Firefox

Chrome

Safari

I can't get to the Log In 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?

If you have lost your password, please contact a Customer Service Representative at (800) 446-1421.

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 (800) 446-1421 if you have not received your report within an hour. Reports can also be obtained from the Account Home page. You may view the report by clicking the report link under the request. This will bring the report up as a pdf which can be saved or printed.

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.