When can someone look at my credit report?

There are two types of credit pulls that companies use.  The first one is called a soft inquiry.  This consists of a myriad of things, however, it does not hurt your credit score.  It is when a credit card company reviews your account to see if they need to raise or lower your credit limit or it could be when you apply for auto insurance and they want to check your credit to determine your rate.  The important distinction with this inquiry is that you are not applying for any type of financing.  It is merely an account review of your credit report and these do not hurt your score.  You also generally do not have to give direct permission to a company for them to run a soft inquiry or credit pull on you.

The second type of credit pull is called a hard inquiry.  This is where a consumer gives permission to a bank or lender to access their credit reports.  Sometimes utility companies request to run your credit report as well.  Too many of these inquiries can hurt your credit although hard inquiries only stay on your credit report for two years.  Be careful if a company is asking to run your credit to see if it will be hard or soft inquiry.  You generally can not dispute hard inquiries and get them removed unless you are the victim of identity theft or a lender (such as a car loan company) pulled your credit through multiple banks without your permission.  These inquiries are the least harmless types of items on your report.