How Significant is Credit in Employee and Pre-Employment Background Checks?

Having perfect, or even good, credit isn’t always the key to a job but, in a background check, it certainly can help. As employers are checking credit reports, getting hired or not hired can be done on the basis of someone’s credit, as reported in an article published on MSN Money. Checking a credit report and credit score are common parts of many background checks, although not all, and, in the case of a bad score and payment history, a position cannot be offered or, for current employees, a promotion or even further employment can be denied to a poor credit score.

According to this article in MSN Money, 35 percent of all employers take into account a candidate’s credit score, while other employers periodically check on current employees’ credit scores and histories. One theory in factoring a credit score and report into employment decisions is that good credit makes a person a more reliable worker who is less likely to steel from his or her employee, while poor credit can be an indication that a person is less likely to be a reliable worker and could be prone to workplace theft. But, when factors like bankruptcy, foreclosure, and divorce are factored into a credit report, how accurate of a work ethic measurement is it?

The occupations for which a credit score is significant are often financial and executive occupations, and other factors of a pre-employment background check, such as criminal and identity history, are often more important than a credit score. While employee background checks can use a credit score to deny promotions or employment and pre-employment background checks can use credit to deny a position, an employer needs to:
• Make sure they comply with the FCRA. This often includes getting the signature from a potential candidate before a background investigation is conducted.
• Inform the candidate or employee if their credit history is being used against him or her. In this case, a person can dispute what is being used against him or her on the credit report.