The Catch-22 of Credit Scores

| Fri Jul. 23, 2010 1:35 PM EDT

The Slacktivist comments on the increasing practice of HR departments checking credit scores before they hire people, a practice that (unsurprisingly) is heavily lobbied by the companies that sell credit scores:

Some 14.6 million Americans are out of work. Nearly 7 million of those are long-term unemployed — people who haven't been able to find a job in more than half a year. Those millions of Americans, as a direct consequence of being out of work, have lower credit scores. Those millions of Americans, as a direct consequence of looking for work, have lower credit scores. The credit agencies say that therefore the unemployed ought to remain unemployed.

....The use of credit checks in employment decisions should be banned. It is a form of discrimination against the poor — the codification and enforcement of class barriers. It is therefore a form of discrimination against those groups more likely to be poor and therefore a violation of the 14th Amendment. So it ought to be illegal already.

It's also cruel, costly, bad for business and bad for America. Outlaw it. Make the practice — both the use of such scores and the provision or marketing of such scores for that use — punishable by fines and imprisonment. Make the punishment large enough that employees practicing this form of discrimination know that it will involve serious repercussions — harm to their firm's "assets, reputation and security.

As they say, read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Actually, it turns out that credit reporting agencies don't make credit scores available to employers. They make complete credit histories available, but not the scores themselves. More here.