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Can a credit score kill a job offer?

Potential employers can pull your credit report, with your permission. Declining can raise red flags.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 6, 2012 3:34PM

This post comes from Lisa Gerstner at partner site Kiplinger.

 

Kiplinger on MSN MoneyDespite what you may have heard or read, employers do not have access to job candidates' credit scores. That should come as a relief to strapped job seekers with maxed-out credit cards or other score-busting blemishes.

 

But your prospects for getting hired aren't immune from a poor credit history. In most states, employers are able to check a potential or current employee's credit report, which lists information such as balances on your loans and credit accounts, late payments and debt collections. Post continues below.

About 13% of employers check credit reports for all candidates, and 47% check for those applying to selected positions, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Employers are usually most interested in the credit backgrounds of applicants who will handle finances, hold an executive-level position or have access to other employees' confidential information (such as human resources professionals).

 

The black marks that might give an employer pause are ones that leave the deepest stains on your record: a loan default, a bankruptcy, a debt that's gone to collection.

 

An employer must obtain your permission to pull your credit report. But declining is "like saying no to a Breathalyzer test," says John Ulzheimer, the president of consumer education for SmartCredit.com. The consequences are sometimes worse than just getting it over with," he says -- namely, the employer could choose another applicant for the job if you are secretive.

 

Be honest and upfront about any problems. A potential boss may be sympathetic to the financial trauma that a layoff and long bout of unemployment have caused. And keep in mind that your credit record is only one piece of your profile. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, credit history ranked lowest among criteria employers used to vet candidates.

 

More on Kiplinger and MSN Money:

104Comments
Feb 6, 2012 6:47PM
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It can and absolutely does kill the job offer.  I worked for a bank for five years and twice won their highest award for exceptional service but after losing my unemployment I did a Chapter 7 and now I can't get hired by anyone.  Even though I wired $660 million a few years ago and the credit rating has NO statistical correlation with theft on the job.  All the companies pissing and moaning about how they can't find any good employees-****.  Think one inch outside your little box for a change.  They're right in front of you if you'd give them a chance.
Feb 6, 2012 8:24PM
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I have great credit. And I'll be damned if I let an employer see that information. It is none of their business, period.
Feb 6, 2012 11:53PM
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So people try to get jobs to pay their bills and raise their credit scores, but they can't get hired because of their poor credit scores. Makes perfect sense.  You have to laugh because it is so stupid.

Feb 6, 2012 10:56PM
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As a potential employer, puling credit reports in this economy is completely ridiculous. It says little of character. Quite honestly, I think it should be illegal for employers to pull credit reports.

I learn more from calling references and an interview than anything a credit report could tell me.

Feb 6, 2012 7:47PM
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People with high credit scores are honest and wont steal.

Bernie Madoff was an angel. Higher score then anyone posting here i bet.

The Mets swear by him.

Feb 6, 2012 6:50PM
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In this economy, I don't think this policy makes a lot of sense.  Heaven forbid that you get laid off and struggle to keep all your bills current.  It's a fact of life these days. I was laid off for 8 months, and was only able to live off my savings for 5 months.   Times got pretty hard.  I survived, but I am sure my credit score suffered.
Feb 6, 2012 11:16PM
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Using credit scores as way to screen job applicants has nothing to do with the quality of the worker, it's just a sales gimmick fabricated by the credit reporting agencies to sell more of their defective product.
Feb 6, 2012 9:20PM
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I am a recruiter with 16 years experience and I completely agree that employers shouldn't check credit.  There are too many situations that  can cause bad credit that aren't a reflection of the prospective employee's integrity or ability to perform.  It kills me when someone's offer is rescinded for this reason. 

 

 

Feb 23, 2012 9:14PM
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If a potential employer wants my credit report, the answer is a resounding NO! A credit report has nothing to do with my ability to do a job, so again NO!

This whole issue of a credit score, or a credit report for employment is ludicrous and should be made illegal.

Feb 6, 2012 10:41PM
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I worked in the high tech industry for years having excellent credit. But some times things happen in life to lower your credit score. Like what happend to me. First my honey died, then I got breast

Cancer. At this point I couldn't go to work at all due to depression and fighting a killing desease and the year and a half of treatments. I also had a herniated disk in my back which required surgery. I had insurance at the time but I was left with thousands of dollars of medical bills after they did pay. I couln't possibly pay them being on SSI disabilty. I might add that it took 6 months before I recevied a check for SSI. What I am saying is that **** happens. I think future employers have no business worrying about the credit scores. But they should just check with previous employers.

Feb 6, 2012 7:46PM
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So....they can't obtain your score but have access to your credit report. In this day and age a credit report should not be factored in an applicants pursuit of a job. Period.
Feb 6, 2012 9:06PM
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The writer of this article is out of touch at least from my perspective!  I am an unemployed ex-banker with an HR degree.  I went through a divorce which caused a bankruptcy.  Now I cannot get a job!?  Every employer now utilizes credit scores in the hiring process, even the temp agencies!!  Even in a manufacturing job I am turned down because of my credit??  How does my credit affect my ability to perform general labor?  It is being abused by overzealous companies and HR people who are detached from reality. 
Feb 6, 2012 8:46PM
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I don't believe ANYONE should have access to your credit information unless you are looking for a loan AND sign a document allowing that company to run it. Being a single parent and a having a child with a learning disability - my credit was awful for a lot of years. My goal was to provide - thru my employer -the best insurance to cover my children (which wasn't cheap back then, either).. Jobs I have had, I did handle the financials and there was never an issue. Companies are absurd thinking because a credit score or the ability to not pay a bill on time is reason for not hiring you. Really? Every job I've had for the last 20 years I covered Human Resources (had access to tons of personal information), Payroll & accounting (wow, think of all the damage that can be done there), etc. Never was there an issue or my wanting to "steal" or use confidential information in a dishonest way. I think it's just another way to discriminate against people.
Feb 6, 2012 6:51PM
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That's none of their phuqin business! They shouldn't be allowed to even request such a stupid thing.  Jeeez!
Feb 6, 2012 10:45PM
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It would matter if there were jobs worth applying for.

Just pay your bills, you say? Not everybody runs their households like a business. Else, when tough financial times hit, you would sell off your assets(your furniture, trees, TVs, cars, etc), lay people off ( send your kids to an orphanage to get them off your payroll), and move your operation to China(ghetto), so you can "just pay your bills", and your credit is good.....for a 2 bit position.

 

You go with that.

Just another legal notch in HR's gunbelt for denying you the position, in favor of their perfect candidate.

Feb 6, 2012 9:08PM
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OK, it should NOT be done, but, I know it has been done for a number of years now. I am a RN and I thought for awhile it was just nurses and medical people being checked (too sheltered a life I guess)....medical people have to jump through unbelievable hoops.     Just another form of discrimination. Yes, discrimination. Add it to 50+ year olds looking for work, add it to anyone with any medical condition (employers don't want them to run up the healthcare costs)....Things happen sometimes and your credit gets ruined.....I had PERFECT credit before my divorce and my husband made a special point of ruining my credit...even though MY bills were paid on time, my home paid off, ny truck paid off and I owed no debt....he didn't get rid of one credit card with my name on it and ran up a huge bill that I didn't discover for awhile....what if you have a huge bill (like medical, all of a sudden)...or a family member gets ill?   There are all kinds of reasons to suddenly find yourself in debt...other than just spending for the sake of spending.  Then the employers don't want to hire you if your credit isn't perfect.   Sounds like discrimination to me......how can you pay your bills off if you can't find work?     It's a bad time for job seekers out there already with so many jobs going overseas and so many businesses afraid to hire because of healthcare and taxes and the really bad economy. 
Feb 24, 2012 12:26AM
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This IS so simple. People that have money are treated better than people who don't. Good credit does not mean you are honest. All it means is you can afford to pay your bills on time. This country is full of selfish, arrogant, self centered money hungry.............
Feb 6, 2012 7:03PM
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 I was once passed up for a customer service job because my score wasn't high enough. I would have had no access to the company finances and I would not have handled any money other than what was in my pocket. They said it was company policy that ALL of their employees have a high credit score. Can someone please explain that to me?
Feb 24, 2012 9:49AM
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You have to love the irony of this.  Creditors put black marks on one's credit because they want to get paid.  But that black mark prevents the debtor from getting a job.  Of course, this means that the debtor cannot pay the debt because he doesn't have an income.  Speaking of cutting one's own throat!

 

Brilliant banker dudes!  Brilliant!  Even though you charge 30% interest on credit cards and $40 late fees, you have found a way to still lose money!

Feb 6, 2012 7:08PM
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This is BS should have nothing to do with getting a raise!
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