Consumer disclosures and consumer credit reports are both regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions amendments made to the FCRA. They are both obtained from credit bureaus, and there is plenty of informational overlap between the two documents. Despite their similarities, they are used for different purposes and may also be requested by different parties in determining the creditworthiness of a borrower.

When you borrow money in any significant amount, the details of the lending arrangement and your subsequent payment history are usually submitted to the major credit bureaus to be filed under your name. This is how your credit profile is created, how your credit score is calculated, and part of how lenders evaluate your creditworthiness whenever you ask for a loan.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, you are entitled to know what is in your file, dispute incorrect information, and remove outdated information after a period of seven to 10 years, depending on the type of information.

What Are Consumer Disclosures?

The long version of your file is referred to as the consumer disclosure, and only you may request access to it. According to TransUnion, a consumer disclosure lists every inquiry on your file, including promotional inquiries. You can also see any information that has been suppressed, meaning that it does not appear on your standard credit report because one of your creditors has requested that the information not be shared.

Your current creditors cannot request this file, and no potential lenders may request this file when evaluating a credit application. If you receive your consumer disclosure and have questions or would like to dispute the information contained within it, the bureau is legally required to include contact information to help facilitate your dispute resolution.

What Is a Credit Report?

Another function of the FCRA is the protection of the privacy of the information collected on your personal credit file. This is done, in part, by limiting the access to your credit report to only agencies that can demonstrate a permissible purpose for needing it.

Even when an entity can produce a purpose that is permitted, it does not gain access to your full credit file. Instead, it receives a business-modified version, simply called a credit report. This is what most people think of when they use the term "pulling credit." This version does not include any promotional inquiries or any account review inquiries on your account, and it does not include any information that has been suppressed by other creditors.

The term "credit report" may often be used interchangeably with several different items. Sometimes it is referring to your credit payment history. Other times it is referring to the consumer disclosure. However, there are additional types of consumer reports that are not considered a credit report, such as information kept on your checking account overdrafts.