You’ve made it past the phone interview and two in-person meetings with your potential supervisor and the hiring manager. You might think to yourself, “I nailed it! This job is mine.” Then you find out the company wants to screen your credit report before extending you an employment offer. Joy can quickly turn to panic if you’re not sure what they’ll find.
Some employers review candidates’ credit reports as part of the employment screening process. Most of these companies are in the finance, defense and pharmaceutical industries. Credit reviews have become a common practice in these fields because personnel have access to sensitive information. These employers want to get a good sense of someone’s character before bringing them behind closed doors. However, not every state allows employers to view candidates’ credit reports. Many of those that do are reconsidering the practice, as some legislators believe it can adversely affect job seekers, especially those who may have fallen behind on their obligations due to the economy and other factors beyond their control. Also, it’s a review process put in place mostly for full-time roles, so if you’re looking for a little extra seasonal income helping out evenings and weekends at the mall, it’s unlikely to be a factor in that hiring decision.
A potential employer – or anyone else – must have your written consent to view your credit report. After you’ve given the go-ahead, they’re provided access to a limited version of your report. These reduced reports contain much of the same information you’d find on a traditional credit report, with a few exceptions. Employers receive your Social Security number, address, employment history, public records information and your credit information just as a lender would. Account numbers, your date of birth and information about your spouse are all screened to comply with Equal Opportunity laws.
If the information in your report negatively impacts your employability, you’re entitled to a copy of your credit report and a written description of your rights. You can use this information to identify and address the items that held you back from employment, whether they’re high balances, late payments or maybe both. Some credit reporting agencies have adopted polices to better support consumers who may have some dings on their credit report. For example, Experian recommends that employers not deny employment solely on an individual’s credit profile. It encourages employers to have open dialogues with candidates so they can clarify any areas of concern.
Obviously, you’d like to avoid a situation where your credit gets in the way of gainful employment. It’s always a good idea to review your credit report before beginning a job search. You’re entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus each year. Request your reports and look them over closely. If anything seems out of the ordinary, follow the included instructions to address any of your concerns. Regularly checking your credit reports helps you keep surprises at bay.
This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
Published by permission from ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company. © 2015 ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. All rights reserved.