Employers and Credit Scores: An Update

| Tue Aug. 10, 2010 2:32 PM EDT

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about an uptick in employers using credit scores as part of their background checks for new employees. Greg Fisher of creditscoring.com, who's no fan of credit scores, emails to say that "consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment screening" and suggests I make a clarification.

Done! But let's dig a little deeper. According to a post on Fisher's site, "TransUnion does not provide a credit score for employment screening purposes." Another agency concurs: "ChoicePoint does not offer credit scores for purposes of employment-related background checks." Excellent. But wait. It turns out this doesn't mean that agencies don't provide credit checking services to employers. Lester S. Rosen, a lawyer and president of Employment Screening Resources, clarifies:

Even though credit reports are utilized by some employers for particular positions, a “credit score” is not a tool used for pre-employment screening. For pre-employment credit reports, the credit bureaus use a special reporting format that leaves out the credit score, along with actual credit card account numbers, and age.

Sure enough, Experian says its report "enhances traditional employment decision making tools by providing credit information which would not normally appear on an application, but may have an impact on job performance....The report includes the applicant's credit history, providing an objective overview of how financial obligations are handled over a period of time." And TransUnion touts its reports as "a completely unbiased account of a potential candidate’s financial background information....PEER traces the person’s credit history. PEER can then help you identify those applicants who are potentially financially overextended or on the brink of problems that could adversely affect their performance on the job."

So I stand corrected. Credit reporting agencies don't pass along your credit scores to prospective employers. They do pass along your entire credit history and specifically promote it as a way of weeding out problem candidates, but there's no credit score. Just your entire credit history.