Employers and Credit Scores: An Update

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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.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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