Employment Credit Checks

Most people know that when they apply for a loan or credit, the lender or creditor is going to check their credit. What may not be common knowledge is that some employers also run a credit check as part of the employment process. When a potential employer runs a credit check on a potential employee, it is typically called an employment credit check.TypesA potential employer has the right to pull a credit report or to run a credit check on an employee before offering employment. An employer also has the right to run a credit check before deciding to promote the employee, give the employee a raise or deciding whether to continue employment of the employee. According to the Employee Issues website, an employer has the right to run a credit check because there are currently no laws that exist that prohibit discrimination based on the status of the credit report.IdentificationThe employer requests credit information from the three credit agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. An employer is typically privy to pulling a full credit report on an employee, which can include personal information and information pertaining to credit and debt accounts held by the employee. Information the employer can obtain from a credit report may include the year the employee was born; current and previous addresses; marital status and name of spouse; names of current and former employers; bankruptcy, liens and judgments; child support and alimony obligations; payment history on any account listed; a credit score; and other companies that have checked the credit report.PermissionThe Fair Credit Reporting Act does govern how employers can obtain a credit report on employees. An employer has to inform an employee that a credit check is going to be run and the employer has to obtain written permission from the employee. If an employee does not provide consent to the employer to check credit, the employer won’t be allowed to run a credit check, but this may also mean the potential employee does not get the job and an existing employee may not get to keep their job.UseThe Fair Credit Reporting Act also requires employers to provide the employee with disclosures before taking action based on the credit report. For example, if the employer intends on letting an employee go, the employer first has to hand over a “pre-adverse action disclosure,” which includes a copy of the employee’s credit report and a written summary of the employee’s rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. After the employer takes adverse action against an employee, the employer then has to provide the employee with an “adverse action notice,” provide the name and complete contact information of the credit agency the employer received the credit report from, the employer cannot disclose the credit check results to anyone else and is not allowed to place the information in an employee’s personnel record.State LawsIn the wake of the downturn in the economy that began in 2007 and the high unemployment rate, many consumers were not able to pay their bills, which left many of these employees or potential employees with negative credit reports. Some states have proposed bills that prohibit discrimination on employees based on the findings of a credit check by an employer.

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