According to a recent survey by VISA, 80 of Americans did not know that bad credit can affect their chances of getting a job. What many people do not realize until they experience it firsthand is that employers have the right to refuse to hire job applicants because of their credit histories.
Employers who investigate your credit reports as a part of the employment process argue that your credit history is a good predictor of your judgment, character, work performance, and reliability as an employee. Some consumer advocates argue against this and feel the practice is an unfair method of discriminating against job applicants. Regardless of which side of the story you agree with, the fact remains that the information contained in your credit reports could have bearing on your being hired for a new job.
Tory Johnson of Good Morning America recently authored the article How Bad Credit Can Affect Job Prospects in which there are a number of good tips to keep in mind when applying for a new job. First among these is finding out if the employer will be requesting a copy of your credit reports. Prospective employers are required by law to get your permission before conducting a credit check so look through the fine print of any employment application. Is it usually in the fine print where you lend your consent upon signing the application.
If you have great credit, you probably won’t have anything to worry about. If, however, your credit reports show difficulties making payments on time or other credit problems, you may need to take steps to minimize their impact. Of course, if you don’t know what is on your credit reports, make sure you order a copy of your reports before starting the job search. You can order your reports free of charge at www.annualcreditreport.com.
If your credit score is sub-par because of credit reporting errors or other questionable negative items in your credit reports, work to get these items corrected or removed. Even if you do not have time to address these listings before applying for a job, it is still in your best interest to dispute these items for the future. But for the time being, you will have to try to help a prospective employer see past your bad credit.
If you know an employer is going to perform a credit check, consider coming clean immediately instead of trying to perform damage control after they have seen your credit reports. Many people with bad credit have perfectly reasonable circumstances in their past such as unexpected unemployment, divorce, or medical issues that can significantly impact their credit rating. After explaining your situation confidently and truthfully, you may find that employers will be sympathetic to your troubles.