SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Back in July, PG&E took a peek at all its customers credit reports. The inquiries, known as “soft credit inquiries,” were intended to identify customers who owe the utility money, and did not impact customers credit scores, according to PG&E.

PG&E customer Terri Bittner noticed the inquiry last month when she checked her own credit report, and saw a notice that PG&E had been looking too.

“I just couldn’t think of any reason why they would check it,” Bittner told ConsumerWatch.

Rick Harper of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service said utilities and other companies that you do business with can take a look at your credit history without your permission, but a record of the request must be noted on your report.

“The reporting law says if the creditor has a legitimate business interest with you or a potential business interest with you, they can scan your file,” Harper said.

PG&E’s Joe Molica said the mass inquiry done back in July turned up several thousand delinquent accounts. Molica said the utility can track down delinquent accounts itself, but said in this case it was more efficient to use an outside company to do the inquiries.

You can request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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