The Credit Alert Verification Reporting System (CAIVRS) is a program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It tracks people’s problems making payments on financial assistance from the federal government. This includes, for example, FHA mortgages, SBA loans and federal student loans.
CAIVRS is much like a credit report tailored for government use, in that lenders must check it before giving government-backed credit to individuals and small businesses. As a result, negative records on your CAIVRS report can jeopardize most types of federal financial assistance. The exceptions are retirement benefits and other such “entitlements.”
Needless to say, CAIVRS reports are much more important than most people realize. So let’s take a closer look on what goes on a CAIVRS report, who uses them, and how you can deal with any potential issues on your file.
What’s On A CAIVRS Report?
A CAIVRS report generally contains two types of records. Those concerning…
- Defaults and foreclosures on federal loans
- Claims made by lenders to federal agencies for unpaid balances (within the past three years, at least)
This information is sourced from a wide range of federal agencies.
|CAIVRS Data Providers|
|Department of Housing and Urban Development||Department of Agriculture|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation|
|Small Business Administration||Department of Justice|
|Department of Education||Info|
CAIVRS compiles this info into a single report using an individual’s Social Security number (SSN) or Employer Identification number. So lenders can simply plug borrowers’ info into the CAIVRS database to check for red flags.
When Are CAIVRS Reports Used?
Financial institutions must use CAIVRS to screen applicants for any loan made, guaranteed or insured by a federal agency.
So a CAIVRS report serves much the same purpose as credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. It’s just tailored to government lending.
Here are some notable examples of loans that require a CAIVRS check:
- FHA Loans (except streamlined refinancing)
- Federal student loans
- VA home loans
- Farm ownership and operating loans
There are, however, some exceptions. Negative CAIVRS records might not prevent you from getting government-backed financial assistance if they:
- Reflect Someone Else’s Mistakes – If you buy a house with a government-backed loan and sell it while that loan is still in good standing, for example, you won’t be held responsible for the buyer’s inability to make subsequent monthly payments. Same thing if you get divorced, your ex receives property in the settlement, and he or she doesn’t pay the bills on time.
- Resulted from Special Circumstances – If you had to declare bankruptcy due to unforeseeable events, such as the family breadwinner passing away or being unable to work, the fact that past-due government obligations were involved won’t necessarily prevent you from obtaining future government assistance.
For more specifics, you can always consult your lender and the relevant government agency. They should be able to provide you with information on both benefits eligibility and CAIVRS exemptions.
How To Get & Improve Your CAIVRS Report
Unfortunately, there is no set process for consumers to obtain their CAIVRS reports. This is one important way in which CAIVRS differs from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. We are all entitled to free copies of those reports every 12 months. And you can access them far more frequently elsewhere, too. For example, WalletHub offers unlimited free access to your full TransUnion credit report, updated daily.
Just because you can’t get your CAIVRS report doesn’t mean you’re out of options, though.
For starters, you can contact the lender or government agency in question for more info. You can also file for a CAIVRS waiver if you’re participating in the FHA Back to Work program.
Similarly, if you’re rejected for financial assistance due to information on your CAIVRS report, the lender will receive certain details about the problematic CAIVRS records, which you can request. If there’s been some sort of mistake, this will give you an opportunity to investigate and correct it.