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Your Credit Report Could Be Keeping You From Getting A Job

Your Credit Report Could Be Keeping You From Getting A Job

Many Americans are struggling to find work. Background checks can make it even more difficult for those with poor or blemished credit. What you should know.

If you’re currently unemployed or considering a career change you already know how challenging the job market is. But aside from a lack of jobs and a poor economy, there may be hurdles you may not have thought about. Your credit rating might actually be keeping you from getting a new job or promotion.

Consumer Reports are Often Used in the Hiring Process

Many employers are now routinely conducting employee credit checks by viewing a candidate’s consumer report. Some companies feel that if a job candidate is not financially responsible, perhaps they will not be a responsible employee. Companies in the financial industry often view a candidate with a poor credit history as a possible risk. And federal and state laws require background checks for certain jobs. Whatever the motivation for conducting a background check, companies must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when using consumer reports to evaluate employees for hire and promotion.

Employers and Legal Obligations

In 1997, an amendment to the FCRA went into effect which increased the legal obligations of companies who use consumer reports. This was done because the government was concerned that inaccurate or incomplete reports would unfairly cause applicants to be denied jobs or promotions. The amendment states that applicants must be made aware that consumer reports may be used for employment and candidates must agree to their use. It also says that applicants must be advised that certain information in a consumer report may result in a negative employment decision. By law, if a company decides not to hire a candidate because of information found on a consumer report they must state this in writing.

Unfortunately, when you are turned down for a job or promotion there is no real way to know if it was because the company found you unqualified or if your credit report had some bearing on their decision. In addition, when you complete an online job application you are often required to submit your social security number. Obviously the employer can easily run a background check with this information. Read online instructions carefully because by law the employer must advise you that by submitting your personal information online you are agreeing to allow them to look at your consumer report.

Order a Free Copy of Your Report

If you feel there’s a possibility that you could be denied employment because of a negative consumer report you should read it thoroughly. If you don’t already have your report, you should order it as soon as possible. The government, through the FCRA, requires all three major credit reporting companies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, to supply consumers with one free credit report per year. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only government authorized source to do this. There really is no reason to pay for a credit report. You also have the right to order a free report anytime you’ve been turned down by a creditor.

Know What’s Included

You can view your report conveniently online or have it mailed to you. If you determine there is some inaccurate or damaging information in your report, now is the time to dispute inaccuracies and repair any information that could have a negative impact on your job search. The key is knowing beforehand what employers will find when they view your report.

Discussing Negative Reports Honestly

The law requires employers to present job candidates with a separate document stating they intend to use a consumer report as part of their background check. They must also have your written permission to do so. It’s perfectly acceptable to discuss any negative information included in your consumer report with an employer at this point. In our current down economy, it’s certainly not unusual for job applicants to have blemished credit reports due to late or missed payments. Being honest with an interviewer and explaining any derogatory information can mean the difference between being hired and passed over for a job or promotion.