It appears that Congress won't act on Cohen's measure, though.

Some second thoughts

At least the federal Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Cleveland, which considered terminating dozens employees at least in part over bad credit, is now taking a second look at its decision. After the workers' situation was publicized and U.S. Rep Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, intervened, the agency agreed to review its actions and delay firing 39 people who had been expected to lose their jobs.

Defense Finance and Accounting Service spokesman Tom LaRock said the agency was just following guidelines set down by the Department of Defense in 2005. The workers' jobs were reclassified from "noncritical, nonsensitive" to "noncriticial, sensitive" because of workers' access to private, identifying information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers.

"Because of what we do -- paying people, paying all DOD bills -- because of that fiduciary responsibility, all DFAS positions were reclassified," LaRock said.

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The guidelines require that workers be investigated not only for their credit but for other criteria including, according to a Defense Department fact sheet that LaRock supplied, "allegiance to the United States, foreign influence, foreign preference, sexual behavior, personal conduct, financial considerations, alcohol consumption, drug involvement, psychological conditions, criminal conduct, handling protected information, outside activities, and use of Information Technology (IT) systems."

Financial considerations alone rarely lead to firings, LaRock said. Typically, there is some other problem, such as "personal conduct" or false statements to investigators, he said.

If you agree that use of credit checks for employment purposes has gone too fa,r let your lawmakers know. You can find your congressional representative here and your senators here. And if you're job hunting, consider reviewing this fact sheet from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse about what to expect.

Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.