Can Bad Credit Keep You From Being Hired? (Parade Magazine 10/4/2009)
October 5, 2009
Along with résumés and references, many employers also examine the credit histories of job applicants. A blemished credit report could shut the door to a job—and the income needed to pay down debts. Now, Congress is considering blocking employer access to most credit-report data.
“At a time when people are struggling to find jobs, credit checks should not be used as a basis to deny employment to otherwise qualified candidates,” says Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.), the sponsor of a bill that would prohibit employers from seeing the credit reports of most job applicants. Exceptions would be made for jobs that involve money or require national-security clearances.
Consumer advocates say it’s unfair to base hiring decisions on credit histories, particularly at a time when one in 10 American workers is out of a job and lacks the means to pay creditors. They say debts accumulated because of layoffs, divorces, medical conditions, or other circumstances should not be held against potential employees.
“It’s a vicious cycle: How can you improve your credit if your credit history is preventing you from earning income?” asks Edmund Mierzwinski, a consumer advocate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. He adds that up to 33% of credit reports contain serious errors, so job seekers may be penalized unfairly.
Jason Morris, president of a company that runs background checks for businesses, says employers should have access to the data. “If an employer is on the fence about an applicant, credit reports can be valuable—particularly if the job includes fiduciary responsibilities,” he says.
— J. Scott Orr
Latest posts by admin (see all)
- SterlingBackcheck Acquires EmployeeScreenIQ, a Global Provider of Background Screening Services - November 3, 2015
- Many Employers Not in Compliance With EEOC Criminal Records Guidance, EmployeeScreenIQ Research Shows - October 21, 2015
- The EEOC’s Criminal Background Screening Guidance 3 Years Later - October 8, 2015