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Credit score myth persists

By Leslie McFadden · Bankrate.com
Friday, March 26, 2010
Posted: 3 pm ET

The myth that employers will review your credit score when you apply for a job is one that just won't die. Within the last few weeks I've seen TV commercials and articles still claiming that a low credit score can sink your job prospects. Watch this video from Creditscoring.com to see how widespread this falsehood is.

Misinformation mayhem

Confusion seems to be at work. Employers may check your "credit" -- as in, report, but a score doesn't come with it. Representatives from the three major credit-reporting agencies confirmed with me that don't they release scores to employers for employment screening purposes.

"There's a misconception that scores are used, and scores are not used," says Steven R. Katz, spokesman for Chicago-based agency TransUnion.

He lays some blame on the way people use the terms "credit report" and "credit score" interchangeably. "You see people do it all the time by accident," Katz says. "It sometimes gets jumbled and then it gets perpetuated."

Katz notes a score doesn't come with the report because there's no scoring model designed to predict employee behaviors based on credit attributes. "We don't offer a scoring model for employment, so there's no score to provide."

Representatives for the credit reporting agencies say they do provide credit reports, with permissible purpose, for job applicant screening. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires employers to first obtain written permission from the consumer to in order to pull a credit report.

Around 60 percent of employers have checked the credit reports for some or all job applicants, according to a 2010 survey from the Society of Human Resource Management.

An employment credit report doesn't contain account numbers, the year of your birth or references to your spouse in the identification section of the report. Otherwise, the report is mostly a summary of what you find in your consumer credit report -- identifying information, public records, employment information and credit history.

Most important, the report doesn't include a credit score. Spread the word.

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4 Comments
julie
March 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Very interesting and rather unsettling since so many credit reports are rife with errors. Another great reason to check your credit reports several times a year.

Bob Ross
March 26, 2010 at 9:52 am

That's brilliant. They should check credit. It relects the responsibe nature of the employee and would give the employer a better hiring decision.

Katie
March 26, 2010 at 9:44 am

I had no idea! Thanks Leslie!