If you live in the Washington D.C. area you may have noticed that many employment opportunities are either with the government, or with government contracting companies. Chances are if you are applying for a position in the government sector, including government contracting companies, you will have to undergo a background check. And often that means undergoing a credit check.
I recently interviewed with a government contracting company, and they asked me if I could pass a background check. “Certainly,” I said.
“How’s your credit?” they asked.
“None of your business,” I wanted to say, “but thanks for asking.”
Are your PERSONAL finances any business of a potential employer? Hawaii and Washington State do not believe so. Hawaii and Washington have a law in place which prohibits the use of credit information in most employment decisions. In July 2009, Representative Steve Cohen from Tennessee introduced a bill which would extend this law on a national level. Chances are, however, that this bill is dead where it sits.
Some will argue that there is justification for credit checks in certain areas, such as national security or supervisory, managerial, professional or executive positions at financial institutions. I find that a little ironic. I would argue that the job seekers in the financial and government sector should be the ones requesting credit checks from the government and financial institutions for which they are applying? It is hard to imagine any individual with a worse credit score than the Federal Government, or today’s financial institutions.
Ask Donald Trump what he thinks about credit reports. Mr. Trump files bankruptcy every three years. Can you imagine someone at Trump Industries asking you for your credit report? Mr. Trump, “you’re fired!”
Perhaps you have already deduced that my credit is less than perfect—would I be making such a fuss over it, otherwise? Maybe not. Yet the fact remains that individuals continue to be turned away from employment opportunities due to poor credit scores. So until Mr. Cohen from Tennessee pushes his bill through (don’t hold your breath), many will be faced with the task of cleaning up their credit; myself included. I’d like to know what you think. Are credit checks by employers an invasion of our privacy?
Please note that all comments are subject to credit score approval.
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