Credit Checks on Job Applicants

Monday, December 03, 2012

Brooklyn City Councilman (D-39) Brad Lander talks about a proposal he's co-sponsoring to ban the use of credit checks during hiring in New York City. Plus,Emmett Pinkston talks about how his credit score disqualified him for a job with the Transportation Security Administration two years ago.


Brad Lander and Emmett Pinkston

Comments [12]

Ena from NJ

We have an employee for more than a dozen years who does EXCELLENT work, but he is terrible with money. He comes in on time, works above and beyond his duty, remains enthusiastic about his job, manages the warehouse well, takes a great deal of pride in his work—you could not ask for a better worker. However, a few years ago he got himself into credit card debt and had to declare bankruptcy. Aside from having to take a few personal days for court hearings, it did not affect his work at all. What happens in his personal life is unfortunate, but it's his business and it didn't hurt ours. Having bad credit doesn't make you a crook.
What's suspect is those credit agencies and what it took for me to drop that not-so-free Free Credit Report subscription. After 20 minutes of telling them over and over that I wanted to drop the service, getting to the point of yelling at the customer agent who kept trying to get me to keep it, she finally cancelled it. It was an awful experience, in fact, it was the worst customer service experience I've ever had. I got off the phone terrified that these people are in charge of my credit. They're in charge of everyone's credit. They're the ones determining the interest rate you're going to be charged, whether or not you get that home, and now, whether or not you get that job. Who ARE these people and who is policing them?

Dec. 03 2012 01:18 PM
oscar from ny

..everyone should be able to work if they can..

Dec. 03 2012 12:10 PM

Helen: I used to agree about the financial advisor-type of exceptions, but if you think about it, such screening is still discrimination based on speculative behavior. A tarnished personal credit history is not equal to an embezzlement conviction.

Conservatives love to admonish others for not "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps," but allowing credit reporting agencies so much influence is a prime example of how the US system is stacked against us. You can be the most ambitious candidate, working 500 hours a week, and even with a health insurance policy easily fall into medical debt through no fault of your own. There are numerous other scenarios, most notably involving education loans which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy (even after pursuing a "useful" degree from a state or community institution). Education is required to better yourself, since many feel that retail or restaurant work is only meant to be a stepping stone and not deserving of livable wages, right?

Even in the best case scenario, maintaining "good" credit is a constantly changing series of arbitrary rules which often make no sense. I pay above what I can per month and whittle the balance to 0, then perhaps make another purchase and repeat the process. I have no desire to strategically open and close accounts while taking pains to maintain the "right" balance. You can behave responsible and still have a lower score. How is this indicative of job performance?

Dec. 03 2012 11:22 AM
robin from Albany, NY

This just happened to me. I had a job interview and I was one of two. I was introduced to the staff and I fully expected to be offered the job. I am a licensed professional in three states and I have a current part-time position at a University and I was told at the end of the two hour interview that the agency would do a credit check. I was shocked, and I am in my 50's and never had this happen. It felt demeaning and I declined the permission to do a credit check...needless to say I was not offered the position.

Dec. 03 2012 11:20 AM
Henry Schmelzer from MD

I lost my place on a waiting list for renting an apartment because I had frozen my credit account at the three credit bureaus (to protect myself against Identity theft) and was unable to have the freeze lifted because it is extremely difficult to communicate with the credit bureaus. There is no living human at the other end of the telephone line! There used to be only 2 years ago. It is an outrage.

Dec. 03 2012 11:04 AM

Question: How does rejection for work on the basis of credit checks break down along lines of race or ethnicity?

If minorities are consistently being rejected for work in disproportionately larger numbers, then surely the credit check gimmick constitutes a violation of anti-discrimination law.

Dec. 03 2012 10:57 AM
BK from Hoboken

Even worse are banks that want a credit check to open a bank account. If I am giving the bank MY money, why are they checking my credit? Especially considering the number of banks that have failed in the last decade.

Dec. 03 2012 10:55 AM
Kate from New York

Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this discussion to the table. I work in a staffing agency where we are regularly required to conduct credit checks on behalf of clients who request them. I am deeply opposed to the practice and see it as a privacy issue. Beyond that, as a candidate, I would surely like to know the credit histories of every single company I interview at as an indication of whether or not they are solvent and can afford payroll. That's not an option that's available to candidates in the way it is to employers. It's wrong.

Dec. 03 2012 10:55 AM
Neil from Scranton

Who is the "banking industry" to qualify MY credit-worthiness?

It's just another attack by them on the working class.

Dec. 03 2012 10:54 AM
Helen from manhattan

I think it is unfair to put credit scores as a job prerequisite unless you are a financial advisor or work with debit management or something of the like.

I had a faulty mark on my credit report from Comcast that kept popping up even though I would challenge it ever year and it was proven to be false. 10 years later, it is finally resolved, but the fact that I could have been refused a job based on that mistake is ridiculous. Transunion can ruin my life but can I take any legal actions when their mistakes could cost me jobs, loan rates, apartments, etc?

Dec. 03 2012 10:54 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

I don't understand how a credit check could in anyway indicate how I would perform in a job. Its just a score, right? It doesn't explain why my credit score is good or bad. I'm in tons of debt, undergrad, grad school and unemployment are the reasons why. But I'm a great employee.

Dec. 03 2012 10:53 AM
oscar from ny

The bums have another reason to celebrate...if i was the feds i wouldn't allow this nonsense ..

Dec. 03 2012 10:16 AM

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