Can an Employer Check My Credit Score?

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Can an Employer Check My Credit Score?

Applying for a job is stressful enough. Filling out an application and sitting for an interview are intense ways to put yourself out there. You might feel that everything about you is being judged: your experience, your intellect, even your appearance. After all that, the idea that you may be scrutinized based on your credit health as well might be too much to bear.

Some worry that a credit score that needs work could affect their job search. Can we add a high credit score to the list of good employee criteria? We explore that question below.


Yes and No

The short answer is no, credit bureaus do not share your credit score with employers. Subject to restrictions in state law, employers may, however, ask to see your credit report. When your information is requested, credit bureaus will send over a variation of your credit report meant specifically for employers. This means that they won't see quite everything that a lender can see, for instance, with the biggest difference being the absence of your credit score.

Regulations on Access

Access to your credit report is governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which sets the limitations on when and by whom your credit information can be accessed. The FCRA sets a few restrictions specifically on employers who are using credit reports to screen new job applicants.

First, your employer must get your consent before checking your credit report, with limited exceptions. No consent, no access to your information, though it's of course worth considering what a refusal on your part would imply to a possible employer. In addition, if the potential employer decides not to hire you based upon the report, they must provide you a copy of the report for you to review yourself before taking an adverse action (like denying you the employment opportunity). This measure is meant to protect consumers from potentially life-affecting errors on their reports, and to give the applicant a chance to address and correct those errors.

Beyond the Fair Credit Reporting Act, some state governments have also increased regulations on credit background checks by employers. As of 2013, ten states have taken action to ban or limit employer access to credit reports, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and other states have legislated regulations of their own. For example, California law generally requires employers to give you the chance to obtain a free copy of the credit report they request.

What Employers Look For

We've already established that employers cannot access your credit score, so what are they looking for exactly? In most cases, the answer to why employers want to access your credit report at all is quite simple: they are looking to reduce their risk.

Many employers only look at credit reports to protect themselves against actions that violate ethical standards or criminal behavior. A history of negative public records or other derogatory marks could indicate to employers that an applicant has a record of untrustworthiness or unsavory behavior. Especially for positions that command a great deal of responsibility, like government work or medical jobs, or for jobs that require access to company funds, employers may be on the lookout for these sorts of negative indications.

Beyond the signs of illegal activity, your credit report can also tip off employers to a general lack of responsibility. A credit report completely free from late payments and derogatory marks can indicate to an employer that you have the financial maturity and general responsibility it takes to handle the position in question.

Things You Can Do

While having a credit check as part of your job application may feel like a tension-filled cherry on top of your stress-soaked sundae, it's not all doom and gloom.

Besides growing regulation that limits this practice, credit checks also seem to be declining in popularity amongst employers themselves. The Society of Human Resource Management, for one, reports that credit checks are becoming a "disfavored tool" for employers and suggests that, due to regulation and decreasing interest, this type of background check "could potentially disappear from the hiring landscape."

The other bright side is that you aren't helpless in this equation. If you're planning on entering the job hunt, enroll in credit monitoring to ensure that no unexpected changes slip by and look over your credit report to make sure you have a handle on what's being reported now. Just like every other aspect of the application process, make sure you come in prepared, anticipate any possible problems before they happen and reap the rewards of your financial responsibility.

About the Author: is a Content Writer at Credit Karma. Since joining the team in June 2013, he's been delivering the financial know-how on the daily. When away from work, you can find Mike watching hockey, Twittering for hours and frequenting trivia nights.

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All Comments

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2 Contributions
186 People Helped

Helpful to 186 out of 195 people

I just wanted to put my 2 cents in on when an employer wants to see your credit report, I think they should have no right to do this, when someone is applying for a job that means they are being responsible in finding employment, how can they pay for debts if they don't have a job for heavens sake?? Your paying bills or not has nothing to do with your job performance!!

1 Contribution
100 People Helped
Helpful to 100 out of 105 people

I completely agree Maddy2014.  I know numerous individuals that work their tails off and still have cruddy credit.  Credit ratings should have nothing to do with employment.  More than that, prospective employers should have no right to delve into a person's credit.  A prospective employee isn't asking for a loan or extended credit, they want a job!

Reply by
tigger4444

9 Contributions
109 People Helped
Helpful to 51 out of 60 people

It's like a "catch 22'.  Why don't they discontinue this unfair practice.  It's a kick in the butt!

Reply by
Babybunny0

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34 People Helped
Helpful to 34 out of 37 people

You're 100% accurate why don't employers get that! When you lose your job money stop pouring in you are bone dry nothing you can do but just keep searching for something else until you're able to make payments on bills!!

Reply by
lostandbaffled

2 Contributions
5 People Helped

I totally agree. It's like an invasion of privacy!

Reply by
sparky6977

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

I agree with maddy2014! My credit score is nobody's business but mine. If an employer wants to know my credit score then they need to ask me & I'll tell them. Otherwise stay out of my business unless otherwise told.

Reply by
Logicaldl1

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

Absolutley correct!!   When, a prospective new employer looks at or accesses my credit report, he will find a zero!!!  I pay in cash/in full or I do not buy!,   Does, this mean I am a deadbeat??  No...it means I am not giving away my money I worked for to a banker or credit union....I do not need them!!

1 Contribution
86 People Helped

Helpful to 86 out of 89 people

unless you are borrowing money NOBODY SHOULD be able to look at your credit report.

1 Contribution
68 People Helped

Helpful to 68 out of 71 people

Amen if your not borrowing any money. Everyone has bad times under different reasons. 

Reply by
tigger4444

9 Contributions
109 People Helped
Helpful to 33 out of 36 people

True.  And sometimes you pull out of a bad situation only to go back there for health reasons...keep strong.

1 Contribution
47 People Helped

Helpful to 47 out of 51 people

my sentiments exactly....thank you maddy2014

1 Contribution
26 People Helped

Helpful to 26 out of 28 people

i think it is very sad that all these things can affect everyone throughout their lives everyone need a second chance in life in order to pay our bills we need a job and if employers are checking people credit info to see whether peope are credit worthy for a job that is not right,it's like going for an intervue and they ask for experience worker's only as if they don't train you whether you have or don't.the government needs to stop all these practice's from employer's

Reply by
chadreep

1 Contribution
18 People Helped
Helpful to 18 out of 21 people

I totally agree with you on the only hire experienced workers thing. How do they expect u to get the experience if no one will hire u without it

1 Contribution
14 People Helped

Helpful to 14 out of 16 people

My credit score isn't great.  Ever since I got my divorce 15 years ago, I haven't had a credit card which I thought was a good thing.....WRONG.  According to things I've read recently and people I've talked to, you're supposed to have 4-5 credit cards and practically max them out and pay, pay, pay on them....so you will have credit.  I just don't think it's right for a credit check to be part of a job interview.  I can understand a background security check for certain jobs but my credit is none of a job interviewer's business.

Credit Karma Team
Top Contributor
2949 Contributions
4611 People Helped
Helpful to 11 out of 12 people

Hi newjean2000,

Thanks for posting. You don't need to have 4 or 5 cards to have a great score! Keep in mind that not all employers will look at your credit report - not all jobs require it, but many do if it involves handling money or other financial responsibilities. They can't see your score, or full report. 

Reply by
elanaend

1 Contribution
5 People Helped
Helpful to 5 out of 5 people

 you can have the 4-6 cards but dont use more than 10% of the allowed credit on each of them.  using more than the 10% will hurt you so if your credit limit is $1000 dont carry a balance of more that $100.  

Reply by
lasscat

2 Contributions
1 Person Helped
Helpful to 1 out of 1 people

"Not all jobs require it" that total bs.  Every job i've gone to demands you sign that paper giving them access to my credit score.  Now, its undertandable if I'm dealing with money however, I am a social worker...I never deal with money...I deal with the daily horrors of life.  I have been told when filling out applications if I don't consent to the credit check with a number of social work agencies, I will be disqualified of the application process.  Needless to say, I gave those agencies the finger and left.  But now, a lot of jobs demand it, you cant fill out an application online without providing this consent, if you don't, guess what...the online application process shuts down.  So, Credit Karm guys, tell me how not all jobs require it. 

1 Contribution
21 People Helped

Helpful to 21 out of 23 people

wow ! theres alot of real talk on here but we all know the rich and the well off will never understand or show compassion to those of us that dont want it all but just want a chance to see our way a little bit better . Amen 

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29 People Helped

Helpful to 28 out of 35 people

im retired out military and i have never liked the idea of using credit cars in order to uptain credit. never have own a credit card yet now i am paying for all this because my crdeti is not high due to gamblin everyone does by barrowiing money no one owns. i have payed by cash . n now reading this tells me i am not got getting hired because of that.

Reply by
JGO1970

1 Contribution
12 People Helped
Helpful to 12 out of 14 people

thats just stupid! dont get a job because you dont have credit what has this country come to we tell our kids to be responsible but we dont give them a chance to show they can be and punish them just for that! Wow that is stupid.

Reply by
lancer350

1 Contribution
0 People Helped
Helpful to 0 out of 6 people

Enter Your ReplyYou're A Moron

2 Contributions
20 People Helped

Helpful to 20 out of 22 people

My excellent credit rating is all I have going for me.  but what is the analogous rating an job seeker may consult to screen a prospective employer's behavior.  Do they offshore their money? What labor laws have they been found to violate? What is their employee turnover rate?  Wow, this could be a website!

drewzz

1 Contribution
3 People Helped

Helpful to 3 out of 3 people

If companies are interested in an individuals credit why not have available credit information to indviduals looking at a potential employer? I've been involved with several companies that were insolvent but I did not find that out until after I became their employee.

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