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Will Your Credit Report Disqualify You For a Job?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the permission-to-google-you-sir dept.

The Almighty Buck 513

coondoggie writes "Two companies that fired workers and rejected job applicants based on background checks, without informing those people of their rights, have settled with the FTC for $77,000 in civil penalties. Most experts we talked to think this case is just the tip of the iceberg. The companies — Quality Terminal Services and Rail Terminal Services — were charged with violating provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires employers to get permission to look at individual credit reports. If you don't get a job because of information in your report, the employer must show you the report and tell you how to get a copy from the consumer reporting company. There is no charge for the report if you request it within 60 days of getting notice that you did not get a job."

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Pretty soon. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034273)

Your credit report might disqualify you from posting on Slashdot.

will kdawson ever not title questions ?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034437)

will kdawson suck even more today ??

Will kdawson be more of a prick ??

will kdawson stop beating his meat in public ??

Will kdawson admit to his necrophelia finally ??

Dumb. (4, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034287)

IMO, unless you work directly with cash or are in a position where fraud would be easy, employers have no right to that information.

Shit happens in peoples lives leaving them in precarious positions and things dont get paid on time. Having employers deny applicants based on their credit could put people in a downward financial spiral.

Re:Dumb. (5, Insightful)

Sam the Nemesis (604531) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034337)

Agreed. Unless you have a job, how are you going to fix your credit?

Re:Dumb. (5, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034717)

Hell, there is something far more sinister than that. Some of those marks on your credit report can be *disputes*. Honest to God disputes. Errors even.

I can't understand how credit reports are even legal. I checked a few years back and the policies of one of the credit agencies was basically this.... you could make a *single* negative mark against a credit report electronically. Positive Marks? Minimum ONE THOUSAND AT A TIME.

The whole system is violation of due process, and The Constitution. It allows corporations to exact punishment against you, threaten you, coerce you, etc. all outside of a courtroom. Arbitration is not even involved. Just an electronic transaction in a database. All of it with a difference in the levels of sophistication, power, influence, etc. between consumers and companies.

The TSA has a policy where they will threaten their workers if they have bad credit. That's farking duress. I know personally of several employees who paid of Sprint cell phone scams (cell phone bills for service that never existed. Google it) for $100-$200 out of FEAR. Not fear of those scam creditors, fear of the TSA canning their asses over a couple hundred bucks. I should post the letters on WikiLeaks. Full of very threatening language and when they list the options, *nowhere* is there an option that you just can't afford to pay the amount owed. They certainly make it sound like if you can't get the collection agency to agree to something, anything, then you are at risk for losing your job.

The threat of being fired, interests rates going up, not being able to afford ever increasing lines of credit needed to just keep your family above water, all contribute to a very real mechanism in which these corporations can control you. Most people will be afraid and take the path of least resistance, hence the control realized.

This is just the next evolutionary step in the system. The corporations and credit agencies will create a system where they can *control* you without ever spending any resources hiring law firms and going to court.

The Constitution was just a speed bump.

Re:Dumb. (1)

MrPippers (576652) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034943)

If you don't mind, I'd love to see these letters posted to Wikileaks.

A

Re:Dumb. (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034835)

Wholeheartedly agreed. The only concievable situation where I could see an employer getting my credit report, and disqualifying me based on that, is if I owed them money--on the other hand, I'd think that'd be an ideal way to recoup the debt, is to have your debtor working for you, as a wage-slave of sorts.

Ultimately, though, it has no place in determining the worthiness of someone from an employment standpoint, especially where we're at now; 2 years from now, should this type of practice continue, people are going to be balls-to-the-wall, unable to get jobs because they defaulted on this loan or that loan during a recession. A credit report does NOTHING to determine if a person can do a job competently, that's what the goddamned resume is for.

Re:Dumb. (-1, Troll)

evilandi (2800) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034937)

Agreed. Unless you have a job, how are you going to fix your credit?

Oh, I dunno. Maybe... not spend money you haven't got in the first place?

Credit scores are a good indicator of responsible attitudes. Admittedly, they can also a good indicator of whether mummy and daddy are rich, too. But if you're poor, you don't automatically get a bad credit score. You may start with a lower score than a rich person, but your score will only go bad if you do something irresponsible, like buying something on credit which you don't pay back.

You can be poor and still live within your means.

Re:Dumb. (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034973)

Credit scores are a good indicator of responsible attitudes.

Or they can be complete bullshit.

My Experian report (which has a high score) has me working for Boeing since I was 10 years old. They apparently confused it with my father, but even after several letters pointing out the mathematical improbability of their information being accurate, it's still there.

It's a shame it isn't true. I could have been retired for years.

Re:Dumb. (-1, Redundant)

evilandi (2800) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035097)

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

Re:Dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29035151)

True, but you're telling the wrong guy. You should repeat it a couple of times to yourself. And if you think yours is not an anecdote but a theory, then please play by the rules. Any theory can be disproved by a single fact. And a ColdWetDog just did so.

Re:Dumb. (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035133)

You may start with a lower score than a rich person, but your score will only go bad if you do something irresponsible, like buying something on credit which you don't pay back.

Like, for example, a couple of weeks in the hospital?

Re:Dumb. (0, Troll)

evilandi (2800) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035179)

I don't understand. Why would being in state hospital cost anyone, other than the general taxpayer, money?

Re:Dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29035145)

Not quite. To be more accurate they are a good indicator of whose got on the wrong side of a credit agency. That in itself is not actually a good indicator of anything else unfortunately.

Re:Dumb. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034339)

Just one of many things that in no way affect your job performance but will disqualify you from many jobs.

Looking for work is easily my least favorite work, and it's not just because you don't get paid to do so (unless you're looking for another job while at your current job.)

Re:Dumb. (0)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034383)

Just one of many things that in no way affect your job performance but will disqualify you from many jobs.

Actually I would disagree. I dare say that a person's credit history might be an excellent way to look at how a person manages their tasks/duties.

Here is a list of things I can think of that you could deduce from looking at this sort of a list:
1) Can the person manage regular things coming in and out?
2) Can the person plan and control themselves to stay in control of things?
3) Has the person got enough wits to be able to manage tight situations as they arise here and there?

Thoughts?

Re:Dumb. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034415)

4) Does the person have the legal skills to get false information off their credit report?

Identity theft is popular these days, and it can happen even if you make no mistakes. For example, someone might steal a bank worker's laptop.

Re:Dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034929)

5) Does the person have a drug addicted cunt of an ex-wife that ran up all the credit cards, gutted both the business and personal checking accounts and then ran off to live in a mobile home with some white trash redneck?

Not that I'm bitter, mind you.

Re:Dumb. (1)

chromas (1085949) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035131)

She left you for Postal Dude [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Dumb. (1)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034483)

Maybe, but how is any of that your business? How you treat your daughter is relevant to how you might treat your employees, but is it any business of those employees? And let me tell you something, child -- and you MUST be young to be this naive -- if you think "tight situations" arise only "here and there" you have had far too easy a life and are probably going to be in for a very rude surprise down the line. And with that smug attitude, I certainly hope so.

Re:Dumb. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034549)

I hope you have a painful and horrible life as well. I'm not the OP. Suck it up and die.

Re:Smart. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034951)

I hope you have a painful and horrible life as well. I'm not the OP. Suck it up and die.

I hope you find a loving woman and live a long and happy life.

[I realize that you may feel angry and lonely right now, but I know that you too will find true love.]

Re:Dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034741)

nothing better than the good ol "get off of my lawn!" rant.

Re:Dumb. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034747)

hey kettle, you're black

Re:Dumb. (4, Insightful)

Mhtsos (586325) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034551)

The trouble is, while bad credit record can mean lack of any of these skills, it can also mean:
1) Your house cought on fire
2) Health problems prevented you from working
3) Some script kiddie generated your credit card number and charged you his new PS3 and a ton of porn.
4) Any of those things happened some time ago, but your bad credit record has prevented you from working since

Re:Dumb. (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034607)

Actually I would disagree. I dare say that a person's credit history might be an excellent way to look at how a person manages their tasks/duties.
[snip]
Thoughts?

I was thinking that if they're under financial pressure they'd likely be willing to work overtime when required and probably very motivated to keep their job. Didn't you hear about the GFC? Even in good times though, bad credit rating alone is not enough to tell you if it was due their lack of management skills etc.

Re:Dumb. (5, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034771)

If that's what you're trying to manage, then I daresay you should find direct evidence in support of people's ability to manage regular tasks and survive tight situations.

Credit is a false indicator in this regard. I know people who have amazing credit scores, but I wouldn't trust them to manage a paper sack. Similarly, I know a lot of people who have a strangely wreckless approach to their personal lives, but whose professional work is shockingly squeaky-clean. It is perhaps because they are so dilligent about their professional work that their brain takes a vacation at home.

And, of course, credit can / is usually wrecked by things outside of the control of the person. Health issues, job losses, divorce, moving, and identity theft all ruin credit, and can frequently do so without the end user knowing about it. Personally, my credit was ruined for YEARS without my knowing it, simply because my college roommate had failed to pay the last bill on electricity before moving out. The bill was for 16 dollars, which was too small to actually notify me that anything was still owed, but not too small that it wasn't listed as a default in my credit score. Now that I'm of more firm financial footing, my credit is still terrible. Why? Because I belive borrowing is a symptom of a failure to properly financially plan, which has the side effect that my available credit is low and my credit repayment history is thin.

Credit Score is a tool specifically for financial companies to decide if they want to loan you money. You'll notice that paying your bill in full each month is actually counted as a negative against your credit score, as does shopping around for loans (generating lots of inquiries), consolidating debt, closing unused credit cards, and other things which I personally consider highly fiscally responsible. Again, this is because your FICO is not a measurement of your financial accumen, but rather your potential profitability to moneylenders. Let's keep it as a tool for that, shall we?

Re:Dumb. (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034873)

Illness, including other family members, supporting family members who do not have the discipline required, bad luck (a fire when uninsured), crime against you.

I grant you that a bad credit report might prompt further inquiry. But it should only be used as a symptom, and any job non-offer based on the underlying problem when determined.

Re:Dumb. (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035001)

That info MIGHT be pertinent to a job application but TFS indicates people were also fired from an existing job because of their credit rating. Personally I would be fucked-off to the point of quiting if my employer started ordering regular credit checks on me AFTER I already had the job.

I say "might" but really I can't see it being much use other than a crude process for HR to filter out obvious morons, a first class thief/fraudster will have impecable records and refrences.

Disclaimer: The option of spitting the dummy and quitting is relative to one's circumatances. As a vetran proffesional I have amassed a large fuck-off fund that would last me several years, I also have an excellent credit rating (now that my "sins" are too old to be on the records). I can afford to tell a petty-minded employer to go jump, the vast majority of people (such as my adult children) don't have that luxury.

Re:Dumb. (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035163)

Just one of many things that in no way affect your job performance but will disqualify you from many jobs.

Actually I would disagree. I dare say that a person's credit history might be an excellent way to look at how a person manages their tasks/duties. Here is a list of things I can think of that you could deduce from looking at this sort of a list: 1) Can the person manage regular things coming in and out? 2) Can the person plan and control themselves to stay in control of things? 3) Has the person got enough wits to be able to manage tight situations as they arise here and there? Thoughts?

Most potential employers checking credit scores don't give applicants an opportunity to explain their situations. 60% of bankruptcies are due to medical expenses. Are all those people who have bad credit scores because they or someone close to them was ill unable to:

  • Manage regular things coming in and out?
  • Plan and control themselves to stay in control of things?
  • Have enough wits to be able to manage tight situations as they arise here and there?

Or are they just the victim of really bad luck?

In some positions it makes sense (0)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034347)

A negative credit report, i.e. you being strapped for cash, means that you may be susceptible to bribes. And with more and more jobs dealing (directly or indirectly) with you offering not only a service but also a "quality report" (in terms of liability and assumption thereof), this becomes an issue.

How easily would it be to make you look the other way when something is unsafe, even if you (or your company) are liable for it if something goes wrong, when a few greens are being slipped into your pocket? I mean, look around you, it works for people who are anything but poor, whose doors aren't besieged by repo departments and who don't get "some goons are coming and breaking your legs" letters, how much easier is it when they know those bills could help them get some food on the table of their kids?

I'm not saying that this is how it should be, or that anyone with a poor credit is easily bribed (actually, if they were, would they have bad credit ratings?), but for some positions this makes absolutely sense.

Re:In some positions it makes sense (3, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034393)

As a former employee of a notable product safety testing company, I understand this complaint completely. However, I believe the potential for honest, hard working people to be unjustly denied a position outweighs the benefits.

Unless someone is in a managerial position or deals with money directly(credit card processors for instance), employers have no right to my credit information. Given how notoriously difficult it is to clean up a credit report, its unfair.

Re:In some positions it makes sense (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034467)

A negative credit report, i.e. you being strapped for cash, means that you may be susceptible to bribes.

However, a positive credit report may mean that you're pretty good at taking bribes.

Geez people, can we cut out the "OMG pre-crime!!!" paranoia? A credit report is not a police background check and shouldn't be treated as such.

Re:In some positions it makes sense (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034843)

A negative credit report, i.e. you being strapped for cash, means that you may be susceptible to bribes.

And a positive credit report means that you may have been taking lots of bribes in the past. Actually, as another person posted, your credit score is an indication how profitable you are to a money lending company, nothing else. You can have tons of cash, never borrowed any money, and you will have a very bad credit rating.

Re:In some positions it makes sense (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034939)

That will be a different kind of bad rating from the one employers are looking at.

There will be no history of paying off loans on the credit report. Lenders won't like that, but employers won't care. The equivalent for an employer is where you haven't got any previous experience in that particular role.

The other kind of bad rating is where you have loans which you haven't paid on time. Lenders and employers will both hate that.

Re:Dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034501)

I like my jurisdiction, where they simply ban hiring applicants based on anything but ability to perform the job (and expectations you won't hurt the employer, etc.). So they can't not hire you because you have a bad credit report (unless that directly affects your job), for your size, your preferences, your favorite color, how you get to work, or the like. Oh, except age; under-18s have special laws regarding employment so you can choose not to hire them. Above 18, though, and you're fair game. Of course, people don't follow these rules like they should, but at least they are there.

Re:Dumb. (1)

antic (29198) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034703)

I am hopeless when it comes to remembering to pay bills, usually because I am working too hard instead!

Re:Dumb. (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034947)

I do agree with you, it sucks. But from the other side of the fence, where I currently work, there's another problem. They know nothing about you. They sent you a CV, that they wrote. They came to an interview, and gave the answers they made up. References just tell you where someone worked these days. So how responsible and sensible is this guy? Credit checks are just one way of finding out *something* about a candidate.

Re:Dumb. (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035101)

> Having employers deny applicants based on their credit could put people in a downward financial spiral.

Yipee! That means an upwards financial spiral for those of us with good credit! :)

Anyways, as unfair as this seems, would you really want to work for people who are so shallow that they believe that a credit report is an indication of a person's honesty (e.g. you won't steal). Even if you are willing to work for shallow people, are you willing to work for people who step over that rather fat line that divides a person's professional and personal lives?

How would you know? (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034313)

In this economy, there are literally dozens of out of work people applying for just about every opening. Assuming you were turned down for a position, how would you ever know that the reason was due to a background check? Maybe you smell bad or your facial hair is unkempt. Maybe your fingers were stained orange from the Cheetos you eat all day long in your mom's basement. It could have been your broken flip-flops or the raggedy jeans you haven't washed since January. It's possible that the interviewer was put off by your labored breathing and the whistling sound from your nose. I'd bet the abundance of nose hairs was also a factor. While perfectly natural, it probably wasn't the best idea to let loose a SBD in the interview. Shampooing with RID or conditioning with Nix might have kept those jumping lice to a minimum. Finally, ranting about the GPL and Open Source might be friendly banter here on Slashdot, the interviewer was probably asking about the festering open sore on your leg.

It reminds me of people who send random requests under the FOIA. Sure, there is a chance that you may hit on something, but without any actual evidence, how could you ever really know whether there is something there?

Re:How would you know? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034357)

Yes, the amusing thing is that the HR person or hiring manager probably actually told the applicant the reason for their failure. It is possible, however, that there was an insider who discovered what happened and was a friend of the applicant.

Most likely, though, they told him afterward because they thought that they could do whatever they wanted with this information and not bother to get his permission or provide notification.

Re:How would you know? (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034591)

....Which ironically is why they are relegated to tasks in Human Resources! Ha! ...I better duck... I'm on round four of UI benefits and I'm getting just a we bit pissed at HR for wasting gobs of my time. My credit report certainly has not been helpful thus far, so I suppose I'll feel entitled to failure. Who ever I am.

Re:How would you know? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034989)

"Most likely, though, they told him afterward because they thought that they could do whatever they wanted with this information and not bother to get his permission or provide notification."

I agree, if someone has the arrogance to do this to existing employees then they will also have the arrogance to tell the person exactly why they are being sacked and act as if they are doing the person a favour, throw in a dash of self-righteousness and they will also update the persons contact details for the reporting company.

I'm vaguely appalled (4, Insightful)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034341)

The whole idea behind credit reports being used for anything other than whether or not you should be extended credit leaves me sickened. I've known too many hard working people who've had tough times for legitimate reasons who have been horribly screwed by this crap. Even the government mandated free credit reports are kind of bizarre, I had to forcibly tell these scum to cancel an account at one of the "bureaus" three times over the phone for an apparently ongoing reporting service that I didn't have a way to op out of and I still didn't get all the charges back.

Re:I'm vaguely appalled (5, Interesting)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034615)

The whole idea behind credit reports being used for anything other than whether or not you should be extended credit leaves me sickened.

In fact, if you get paid in arrears, or if you put anything on expenses, then it's you who is lending to your employer. So need to do the credit check on them!

Can't Trust the Credit Reporting Companies (1)

glodime (1015179) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034675)

Even the government mandated free credit reports are kind of bizarre, I had to forcibly tell these scum to cancel an account at one of the "bureaus" three times over the phone for an apparently ongoing reporting service that I didn't have a way to op out of and I still didn't get all the charges back.

It sounds like you were had by the marketing trap set up by the credit reporting companies. If you want a free copy of your credit report see the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's FAQs: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre34.shtm [ftc.gov]

Also you can, depending on what state you live in, "freeze" your report from each credit reporting company. See FAQ on Credit Report Freezes from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (NJ DOBI): http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/finance/creditfreeze.htm [state.nj.us]

Re:I'm vaguely appalled (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034827)

I'd consider myself a pretty fiscally responsible guy who tries far more than the average person to keep on top of these things. I try to check my report every year or so [ftc.gov] .

I still can't see one of the 3 bloody bureaus. To access my information, they want to know financial information details on a bank account that I closed in college. And the hoops to jump through to get in without that are a lot more effort than I have been able to put out for this.

Most people don't spend all of their time wondering if their library in their hometown accidentally reported them as having lost a book 4 years ago. How can people with kids and jobs manage to stay on top of it all?

Re:I'm vaguely appalled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034981)

A credit check is essential for my job.

Why?

Simple: I deal with people's financial information. Now the _most_ essential check is that I'm not already a known criminal, and they run a criminal background check for that. But if you look back through your newspaper headlines about fraud by people with no past record, you'll see a frequent (but not universal) indicator - the person committing fraud had debt problems, and began stealing to try to pay off debts. So, in my business they don't want to hire anyone like that. If you can't manage _your_ money correctly, they don't want you up to your neck in other people's every day, because it's just too tempting.

It doesn't matter if your "hard times" were for legitimate reasons. Money pressure is money pressure, desperate people will steal when they run out, whether its to pay off illegal gambling debts or to pay their daughter's medical bills. You're no good for my job either way.

Credit reports are just part of it.... (1)

ItaliaMatt (581886) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034411)

Try working for the US Government. If you are placed in a "position of trust", they not only check your credit report - they also will investigate your background and criminal record.

I have often wondered why it is that businesses that hire IT guys off of the street without doing any meaninful background check place them into positions that could potentially cripple/destroy them.

Re:Credit reports are just part of it.... (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034513)

You're completely ignoring the fact that the U.S. government is handling confidential, sensitive, classified data. Yes, it makes sense to do an amazingly thorough background check when you're deciding whether this man should have access to nuclear missile schematics. However, it is complete bullshit when deciding whether this man should manage your email server.

The reason credit reports are done for access to sensitive information is because someone is actually likely to bribe you for those nuclear missile schematics. No one is going to bribe you to interrupt email service for a few hours.

Re:Credit reports are just part of it.... (1)

ItaliaMatt (581886) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034641)

Actually - I am not missing that fact at all (being an employee of the outfit in question - I should know).

My point is that while the business of IT for the Government is to safeguard national secrets - busine$$ is in it to protect whatever they could be researching and developing at that time.

For instance - the level of trust placed in someone who works in the Systems department is fairly high due to the fact that they could, if less than scrupulous, read the email and or files of the CEO, CIO, and CFO of their company and sell that info to their competitors.

I know that it is apples and oranges - but just as damaging to each entity involved.

Re:Credit reports are just part of it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034643)

... However, it is complete bullshit when deciding whether this man should manage your email server.

The reason credit reports are done for access to sensitive information is because someone is actually likely to bribe you for those nuclear missile schematics. No one is going to bribe you to interrupt email service for a few hours.

Have you ever seen the T shirt "I read your email"? You don't need to take an email server down to be bribed to copy all your bosses emails for somebody (shady lawyer suing the company) or for your R&D team.

Re:Credit reports are just part of it.... (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035049)

Have you ever seen the T shirt "I read your email"?

No, but I'm willing to bet that the T-shirt "I read your encrypted email" is even more unusual.

Re:Credit reports are just part of it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034677)

You would be surprised how much personal info one sees in a support position.

I've worked for the the provincial government and if I had cared to pay attention while supporting people from the ministry of social services and the ministry of finance, I could have wandered off with enough information to pass myself off as hundreds or maybe thousands of people. Something as simple as taking a quick screenshot while watching someone demonstrate a problem they're having and I could have enough info to get a loan or credit card in some random's name.

Re:Credit reports are just part of it.... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034769)

No one is going to bribe you to interrupt email service for a few hours.

That kind of attitude can get people killed.

If something was done like this in a coordinated fashion, it could cripple the response time of some very important people and organizations.

Re:Credit reports are just part of it.... (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034997)

Manage your email server? Only the most valuable information resource in a typical company? And you'd let any dickhead off the streets have access to it?

Correlation does not equal causation. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034423)

I am aware that this is a cliché here on Slashdot, but nevertheless this is a situation where it must be pointed out.

There is a correlation between bad credit and job performance. It might not be a particularly strong correlation, but it is used to justify credit checks by employers.

However, what they don't tend to consider is that it is probably more likely that an outside influence was the cause of both factors. For just one example: a major illness (either the employee herself or a family member) could cause both poor credit rating and poor job performance. I can think of a great many other potential causes.

Re:Correlation does not equal causation. (3, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034473)

This is a slippery slope you're walking. Assuming that you want to demand that employers have concrete reasons to deny you a job, you must give them access to your medical history as well as the history of your family? Sure, they can't deny you because they can only show a correlation between bad credit and bad job performance, but then should they be able to dig deeper into the reason for your bad credit?

If you are going to prevent them from accessing personal information, where does this stop? Can they request job performance information from your previous employers? Should they even be able to ask you questions in the interview, and if so, can they reject you on the basis that you refuse to answer a question?

If you think that an employer can't do due diligence on a hire, what can they do?

An employee who is frequently ill or absent due to injuries sustained in his private activities is a liability. However, I would be uncomfortable allowing a company to access his medical records searching for causation. I'm much more willing to allow the company to make judgments based on correlations which tend to be fuzzier and allow for some flexibility in interpretation.

Re:Correlation does not equal causation. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035031)

The truth is not a slippery slope. I simply pointed out that a bad credit report has NOT been shown to cause poor work performance, or vice versa. That does not logically give them reason to "dig in" to anything further. Quite the contrary, it shows that they have already dug farther than they should, and come up with nothing useful.

You seem to be assuming that they have both motive and justification to keep digging until they do come up with some kind of damning evidence against you, and THAT is the "slippery slope".

Further, it is quite justifiable and legal to inquire of a prospective employee whether he/she has any illnesses or injuries that would affect their job performance, and they are legally bound by their answers. So that argument doesn't carry any weight.

Re:Correlation does not equal causation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034521)

Yeah, having bad credit is often the result of not being able to get a decent job. Oh, wait, I have that backwards.... no, I don't think I do.

Re:Correlation does not equal causation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034877)

> There is a correlation between bad credit and job performance

True. Most likely if someone doesn't take care in their financials they most likely won't take care in their employer's financials, but there is a much bigger issue. Credit reports show if someone has or hasn't stolen money from a bank among other things. If someone has stolen money by not paying back credit cards or a car loan, do you really want that thief working for you?

Re:Correlation does not equal causation. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035087)

So what? There is a correlation between being black and being a criminal, and it's illegal to use that data when hiring! As people of color have poorer credit scores, this is just one more way to redline deserving people for no other reason than racism.

It's nothing new... (2, Interesting)

cco (28383) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034431)

This has been going on for a long time. In 2001, Vulcan (Paul Allen's company) withdrew an offer because I had too many parking tickets (~$1000) on my credit report (parking tickets are a fact of life if you work in downtown Seattle). Paying the tickets wasn't enough, and the offer was withdrawn.

Re:It's nothing new... (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034509)

Let's see. An investment firm is refusing to invest in you because you wasted money on parking tickets instead of investing a little and gotten a parking space.

2001 wasn't 1998, you know.

Re:It's nothing new... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034651)

Depending on where you live, $1000 might actually be cheaper than a parking space.

Re:It's nothing new... (2, Insightful)

cco (28383) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034713)

The tickets were from the '90s, and the firm that has employed me for the last six years has ~$3B under investment (including some from Allen personally).
Credit reports are a stupid way to evaluate a worker, especially a programmer.

Re:It's nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034759)

Especially a programmer...

Re:It's nothing new... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034885)

A parking space in Seattle can easily run you 100 dollars a month (which is actually cheap by major city standards). Conversely, items will stay on your credit report for 7 years. As such, that $1,000 in parking tickets represents up to 7 years of parking.

Over the course of those 7 years, a legitimate parking space would have cost 8,400 dollars. By getting lots of parking tickets, grandparent poster actually saved 89% of the total costs associated with parking. Even if the parking tickets represented just a single year of vehicle storage, he's still saving 17%.

Of course, the other major benefit of illegally parking is that you're not tied to a specific space in the city. Most jobs require traveling from client to client, assessing their needs on-site or just reassuring them that they're in good hands. A specific parking space is not a flexible enough arrangement to meet those needs. So while parking tickets may only save you 17% over a fixed spot, their general utility within a city environment is much, much higher.

I think it is fair to say that not getting a job due to parking tickets is an unforseen circumstance and should not be held against the GP.

Re:It's nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034903)

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

Re:It's nothing new... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034863)

I work in Seattle and always manage to pay my parking tickets without a problem. They only go on your CR if you fail to pay them. And it's ridiculously easy to do at that.

Re:It's nothing new... (2, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034879)

This has been going on for a long time. In 2001, Vulcan (Paul Allen's company) withdrew an offer because I had too many parking tickets (~$1000) on my credit report (parking tickets are a fact of life if you work in downtown Seattle).

Getting them might be. Not paying them to the point it shows up on your credit report is quite another.

It makes *some* sense (1)

cbraescu1 (180267) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034433)

When an industrial worker at one of Ford's factories 100 years ago went to work, what could he steal? A 20-ton forge? But nowadays, with so much high-value, high-density, low-volume stuff available to employees (and management) at arms length, the question of trust is a clear concern. When this new office worker works 20 meters from an unsupervised closet full of confidential business reports, would it make sense to check whether (s)he is at minus $20,000 on her/his MasterCard?

The problem in the situation described in the article is those companies failed to inform the prospective employees of their legal rights.

Re:It makes *some* sense (4, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034533)

No, it doesn't make sense to check the employee's credit. Rather, you should be asking: why the hell are confidential reports being stored in an unsupervised, unsecured location?

Re:It makes *some* sense (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034541)

When an industrial worker at one of Ford's factories 100 years ago went to work, what could he steal? A 20-ton forge?

As the man sung: One piece at a time. [youtube.com]

Re:It makes *some* sense (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034695)

would it make sense to check whether (s)he is at minus $20,000 on her/his MasterCard?

I don't know. Is there a correlation between fraud and affordable levels of debt? If there is then fair enough, but I'd like there to be more than a hunch. Just because something is obvious doesn't always make it true.

Bullshit (5, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034753)

Most of what companies do makes sense to no one but them. A company is not a single entity, even, but a whole group of idiots with different priorities and different ideas of how to do things, who probably don't talk with each other all that often, and even less often actually agree.

A previous employer shipped their entire business, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of electronics equipment, all over the world in reusable plastic boxes with the companies name on them, sealed with velcro. Every time, at least a half a dozen people who were not their employees handled the boxes and had access to everything in them. They still did credit checks on potential employees.

In the IT industry especially, companies are fine with treating local employees like criminals, but then are more than willing to outsource essential work to god-knows-who in skeezy third-world countries.

Not trusting random people on the street is one thing. But not trusting employees is the sign of a ridiculous, horrible company.

Re:It makes *some* sense (5, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034967)

Who is most likely to steal from you: The worker who owes 20k dollars in credit card debt and is barely keeping his head above water, or the worker who has a million dollar home and a penchant for finding profit everywhere?

I've found that a lot of people who are in poor financial condition are so because they're weirdly principled about it. They don't feel like they could go for higher salaries, because that would be wrong. They don't feel right about charging for the things that they do. They have specific hangups about money in weird ways, one of which frequently is "money is bad, and getting money is bad. I should just put my nose to the grindstone and everything will be OK."

Whereas a lot of the people I know who do have a lot of money, do so because they're unscrupulous bastards. They know how to cut corners, squeeze full advantage out of situations, and pull the wallet right out of your pants while smiling and making you feel like one of the family. I like the ones that I know, but I also know better than to sign anything around them.

I think it's fair to say that in this case, a Credit Score is not a good indicator of which type of employee will take advantage of "edge opportunities" in your organization. And in that light, it merely discriminates against the kind of suckers, err, "hardworking employees" that you probably do want in your company.

Re:It makes *some* sense (2, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035117)

No, the companies were charged with accessing the credit reports illegally: "... Quality Terminal Services and Rail Terminal Services -- were charged with violating provisions oaf the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires employers to get permission to look at individual credit reports." [Emphasis mine.]

Companies have to inform prospects of their rights and get their permission before they access credit records. They failed on both counts.

Just about everybody here has been concentrating on how dishonest employees might be if they have a bad credit report, but where is the discussion about whether you would want to work for a company that, without question, broke the law in order to intrusively delve into your personal and legally protected information?

Credit reports in Europe? (0)

kirill.s (1604911) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034461)

We don't have that sort of thing here, IIRC.

Proof of income and how much cash you have in the bank should be enough to get you that loan.

Re:Credit reports in Europe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034583)

Yeah, this "credit reating" thing always left me puzzled. At first I couldn't even understand what the hell it was, then when I finally got it it left me going "What? Who came up with that crap? That's just stupid". Oh well, american banking system is really strange and outdated, at least compared to Europe. Concepts like "checking account", "credit rating", paying for ATM transactions, credit cards instead of debit cards... Seems so backwards and stopped in 1950.

Re:Credit reports in Europe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034809)

Wait, paying for ATM transactions? What the hell?

Re:Credit reports in Europe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034597)

Yes we do, at least in Sweden. Though when someone gets a credit statement on you a copy is automatically sent to you with all the information, including who asked for the report.

Re:Credit reports in Europe? (1)

pkretek (247414) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034633)

Well, Germany does. Schufa Holding AG being the biggest one.

Re:Credit reports in Europe? (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034815)

There are credit reports, but it may be they are more strictly regulated. For example in Finland, non-payment of a bill can only appear on the report if the issue goes all the way through the court system. A collection agency can't add it by themselves, for example.

Re:Credit reports in Europe? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034979)

We certainly have them in the UK. Equifax, Experian, Call Credit and National Hunter are the four main credit reporting agencies.

Re:Credit reports in Europe? (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035009)

Oh lordy. And if you already have half a dozen loans? Then what? Protip: Yes, we do.

Why (0, Troll)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034525)

There are several articles lately on all the stupid personal information that employers want to dig up on applicants:

credit report
insurance history
car type
"mode of living"

What do most of these have in common? What do they want to know? They want to know that you keep all of your money in a bank account. They want to know that your retirement is invested in the stock market. They want to know that you vote and that you have a home phone line. They want to know that you have a brand new American car. They want to know that you have credit cards and that you are in debt up to your eyeballs. They want to know that you are a typical sheep.

What does this have to do with doing a job? Absolutely nothing.

Then why do they want to know all of this? Because most companies don't actually pay their employees: their banks do. And banks want to keep their money close to them, circulating in their little system. They don't want to employ anyone who might not hand their wages right back in one way or another. They want to give jobs to people who are fully invested in their little fraud that they have going. They want good little workers who are frightened when government officials talk about the economy collapsing. They want employees who enjoy seeing the government bail out failing companies and failing banks.

They want workers who will pay 10% of their earnings in interest, 25% in taxes, 15% on food, 35% on a mortgage, 10% on consumer goods, 2% on prescription drugs, 8% on a car, and 5% on insurance. They want companies that will hire workers who do so.

And the criminals in the US government take our property and earnings from us by force so they can hand it over to these fraudsters and perpetuate their illegal rackets.

Will screwing people disqualify us from success... (2, Interesting)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034553)

Once again, corporations are not people, but they want human rights. Their bottom line is their self interest, and people are their biggest liability unless they are proactive. Screw the employees and the customer; shareholder dividend is the goal, whenever possible, and permissible by law. Its seems peculiar that this company is shrewd enough to perform the illegal research, and yet, somehow incapable of following procedure, or limiting their legal exposure. Hmmm... I wonder if perhaps some of the employees that successfully passed that background check are really quite enjoying themselves now..... or maybe I'm just a wee bit cynical and mistrustful of corporate power in the hands of people.

Swiss bank account (2, Interesting)

ecbpro (919207) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034625)

You see, this is one of the good reasons there is the Swiss bank secrecy system. It is no-ones business how much money you have or owe! (but there needs to be a system that makes sure you pay your taxes). It is really a pity that US citizens are not allowed to use it anymore...

Re:Swiss bank account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034995)

Anyone can use it; but there's no point because the condition of using a foreign bank is that you declare to the government what you've got in there. Hence, there's no point.

Common sense is obsolete... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034653)

Credit and the reporting of credit is extremely flawed, it is designed to protect creditors and is in no way an accurate gauge of anything outside of your negative credit history. They work as hard as they can to make sure anything negative is listed but don't make an effort to list your positives. Even just having your credit checked to see if you could be approved brings down your credit score (especially when places like auto dealers "shotgun" your credit by checking with half a dozen or more lenders at once). You could have many positives that won't get listed, including small loans that you were always on time with and paid off. Often negative credit items can be listed under you from former spouses to complete strangers and you have to put in tons of time and effort to repair those mistakes which costs you money unless you've been denied. Since you can easily have 3 completely different reports, you have 3 times the work to make sure everything is listed properly on all of them. Even when they are accurate they still are no judge of your character, work ethic, driving ability, IQ, etc. It should be illegal for your credit report to be used in determining anything other than to issue you a loan, credit card or other line of credit. It's just like auto insurance companies giving you a penalty or discount based on grades in school or credit score, I mean how can how well you do in school have any direct effect on how you can drive a car? The generalization of credit reports being a judge of one's character/etc such as being organized or managing tasks/duties well is a complete farce, serial killers/organized crime/etc manage their tasks and duties pretty well yet the view of those kinds of people is not positive. Even personality quizzes that some employers utilize can't really be a good judge either if the person isn't being honest. There's more to say but I'm sure most of this has already fallen on deaf ears (and blind web surfers).

Security Clearance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034823)

In order to qualify for some forms of Security Clearance around the world you must pass a credit check, so if your prospective place of employment requires a Security Clearance you're out of luck.

If someone is a thief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29034831)

and they'll steal from a bank then they'll be much more likely to steal from you. Of course I don't want to hire thieves.

I'm not from the US (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034839)

I understand that every country has their public/private sources of information on a person that can be accessed by certain people for certain purposes: countries would not function without it. This whole 'credit report' thing has me a bit slumped though; it's certainly not something that is as prevalent in its use here in the Netherlands. Sure, banks have set up a system that contains all your loans and telephone companies might not give you a phone if you have a bad history of debt and Experian says so, but all this only goes for really bad debt (like, you've had a few collection agencies 'round already) and its use is sporadic. In the US, it seems, its use is endemic. Question: is it possible /not/ to have a credit report to your name ? Can you go through life without one ?

Re:I'm not from the US (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034849)

Question: is it possible /not/ to have a credit report to your name ?

You can have one that's empty. Expect to have every application for any serious loan denied due to "insufficient credit history". Same goes for jobs from employers that do credit checks.

Can you go through life without one ?

Yes, if you never take out any kind of loan, line of credit, etc.

Re:I'm not from the US (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035007)

Remember that things like phone contracts are credit lines, as is a current (or checking[sic]) account. So it is very difficult to avoid it.

Re:I'm not from the US (1)

Jack Sombra (948340) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035041)

Yes it is possible (both in the US and Europe) but expect to have problems getting loan's, credit, bank accounts, anything that requires a ongoing contract of service for payment (non prepaid mobile, cable/Sat TV, home rental)

Managed to have a blank/no credit records in both the US and the UK (lived in both) until I was in my early 30's, but it made things very difficult as the funny thing is no credit report (which basically means you have never needed a credit line/loan, never mind defaulted) is considered even worse than a credit report full of bad debts and bankruptcies

Eventually caved in and got some "poor credit rating" credit cards (all that one can get with no credit report) to build up my credit rating, within 12 months had a top notch credit rating for very little effort

Credit reports are misued (4, Insightful)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035033)

The problem with credit rating is not that it exists, or that it lacks sufficient predictive value for creditworthiness. It's that over the last few decades, credit rating has increasingly become a proxy for overall responsibility and our legal system has upheld its widespread misuse. Credit score is now a prerequisite for nearly everything that has to do with money. Your insurance premiums are a function of your credit score. Your ability to secure a job is dependent on your credit score. Whether a landlord will rent to you depends on your credit score. Just about anyone these days asks you for permission to peek at your score--even your mobile phone provider.

Credit rating was never meant to be used in this way. And yet, everyone does it because it works, and nobody is willing to stand up to it. The future of credit rating is that it will begin to use increasingly sophisticated methods to quantify how much risk you present to a lender, and on the flip side of the coin, it will be used to determine whether you can do ANYTHING. What jobs you are allowed to hold, which people you will be allowed to socialize with, what goods and services you are allowed to buy, which schools you will be allowed to attend, how many children you will be allowed to have, and where and when you will be able to travel.

Creditworthiness is the new class system. What else did anybody expect in a capitalist, consumer-driven society? This is merely the logical conclusion of a set of conditions on a system. Your entire worth as an individual will be quantified and reduced to a single number, and you will be completely under the control of powerful financial entities that sees society as a source of passive income.

The dirty little secret is that credit rating is a system imposed by the rich elite onto the working class. The rich do not have credit, because they have no need for it. Everything they could want, they simply buy. And they buy it with money that the working class earns as a result of real work, but gets funneled to them through--guess what--credit.

I actually like it. (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035123)

Actually, I like it.

I'm very good with money. Not a total tight-arse, but I manage my money (even over the GFC I've increased wealth by 70%). If somebody is employed, and as part of that employment, they have to balance a budget or place orders with vendors that are the best value based on what is needed, the best employee is somebody who is good with money. Somebody with proven history of bad personal financial decisions is not going to know any better with somebody elses money.

I actually have a major problem with being ripped off (that is, paying the same as everybody else or even above 80% of that price) and that part of me argues the finer points with anything involving cash. Always looking for the edge.

Who would be best for placing orders?

There's even more to it (1)

darCness (151868) | more than 5 years ago | (#29035129)

HR departments use these reports, as you well know - along with job history, what font you use on your resume, and what you eat for breakfast - to thin the herd, not determine viability. It's also the reason for credential inflation; what used to "require" a bachelors now needs a masters. Not because the job has gotten more challenging, but because there are ever more people with the older degree. In non-boom times, HR departments can be overwhelmed. Just look at the current number of applicants per job (6(!) for each one as of July 2009.)

It's not just about whether you're "trustworthy". It's trying to make those piles of resumes more manageable to HR. They use whatever they can to do so.

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