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Dealing with Employers Who Perform Credit Checks?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the none-of-their-business...or-is-it? dept.

Privacy 1418

Rick asks: "I recently accepted a Director level position at a small, 40 person, technology company. On my first day, I was provided with all of the standard employment paperwork such as the W2, NDA, healthcare, etc., as well as a document that is to provide my permission for the Company to do a comprehensive background check on me, including a credit history check. I am now in a stalemate position with my employer in regards to this background check document. I have refused to sign on the grounds that my personal credit information is of no business to the company and that they have no basis of need. The company argument (COO level so far, CEO is next) is that the company instituted this policy over a year ago for all existing employees and new hires, and to maintain consistency, every employee must comply. The company also maintains that the information allows them to identify potential problems with candidates or employees, in that people who cannot manage their own finances may not be good employees, or that those with troublesome credit may be more likely to steal from the company. The COO used less direct terms, but ultimately that was the argument. Have Slashdot readers successfully negotiated out of a mandatory employee credit check in the past? What arguments did you use?"

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1418 comments

3rd post! (-1)

thr0d ps1t (641973) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244034)

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You've got to be kidding me.... (4, Insightful)

jgerman (106518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244035)

.... seriously this should be a privacy issue. People with bad credit NEED jobs to get out of the hole they've dug. Give me a break.

Re:You've got to be kidding me.... (2, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244126)

..so it's whichever company you decide to apply for a job at's responsibility to help you build your credit?

I'd be reluctant to let an employer do a credit check on me, of course, even though I've never had a problem with my credit. But the trouble you get in because of your credit are a matter of consequence. They check your criminal record because it's an indicator of character and, indirectly, how well you might be able to handle a certain job. This is the same thing.

It's interesting that people will authorize a nuissance credit card company to check their credit history but shy away when someone they'd like to start a career with asks.

Re:You've got to be kidding me.... (4, Insightful)

jgerman (106518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244156)


so it's whichever company you decide to apply for a job at's responsibility to help you build your credit


Err yeah, you see because if you have a paycheck, you can pay your bills. Denying someone a job because they have bad credit is ridiculous. How are they supposed to correct it if no one will give them work.

Re:You've got to be kidding me.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244193)

Is it even legal to refuse someone a job on the basis of their credit?

Re:You've got to be kidding me.... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244199)

I'm sure McDonalds won't run a credit check on you to flip burgers. You can start there.

Re:You've got to be kidding me.... (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244198)

Interesting point that I didn't meantion is that every check done on your credit takes 20 points off your overall credit score (at least, it does with equifax), and that too many checks done within a short time period will actually pretty much get you blacklisted for 6 months.

w00t (3, Informative)

the grand asdfer (228243) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244038)

get a job somewhere else. Is this the kind of company you want to work for?

Re:w00t (1)

m.lemur (618095) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244082)

Is this the kind of company you want to work for?

Exactly. No job is worth that sort of intrusion. Screw 'em and go somewhere else.

Bad Position (1)

The Other White Boy (626206) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244041)

It's IT. If you won't agree with it, they'll just go thru the list of the hundreds of other people who would love a job and will agree to it.

Re:Bad Position (1)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244174)

They own the company and should be able to run it anyway they want. If you don't like how they run it find a job somewhere else. If noone else is paying as much for your sevices consider their irrational requirements as why.

Re:Bad Position (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244224)

Or you can sue them, and make more money than the 100s of people who would sign, and also put the crappy 40 person company out of business. Corporations cannot f*ck with our rights. Stand up people!

First on the list of credit checks... (2, Funny)

ratamacue (593855) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244042)

When exactly was your last first post?

Don't Be a Deadbeat (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244043)

That's how you deal with it.

Re:Don't Be a Deadbeat (4, Interesting)

f1shlips (450124) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244159)

Yup. ..but if you've fucked up 4-5 years ago what do you do? I settled all my debts and they're marked as paid.

Another coworker was severly injured when he was 20 and had insurance, but the hospitial's accounting department ended up billing him. He handled it like a 20 year old and ignored it. Now he "owes" something like 20 grand, even though recent followups from the insurance company indicate that they paid. He's disputing it, but he looks like a dead beat right now.

The credit reporting system has problems and I'd hate to have my job hanging on the outcome of a credit report.

first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244050)

goatse.cx!!! [goatse.cx]

MOVE (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244051)

to the EU where they have proper HUMAN RIGHTS laws and employment laws, unions make the laws here.

Take youre brain elsewhere. US lost.

Re:MOVE (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244125)

oh God, that sounds awfull!

Re:MOVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244204)

Then dont move, stay in youre shit hole, we can find somebody else that NEEDS the job, hell I can get a few homeless people that need it more than you do and train them to do good. I have no problem doing that. Im helping them. Why employ already employed people? They dont NEED the job, they can stay where they are.

Yes not having the death penality obviously sounds too much strain for youre little brain.

Credit check... (3, Insightful)

Cedric C. Girouard (21203) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244052)

What next ? DNA tests ?

If they're issuing you a joint credit card, it might have grounds to stand on, but the best piece of advice you can get here will most likely be: Consult a lawyer in your own jurisdiction.

Re:Credit check... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244081)

Screening for various genetic (i.e. hereditary) diseases is probably the next step, yes. Screen out those who will cost more for health insurance.

Sad, but true!

Re:Credit check... (3, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244187)

Law has nothing to do with it. This is a private employment contract between two entities. The gov't has nothing to do with it, and it's not race, gender, etc. based discrimination. An employer can also say, "You'll get the job if you jump around and squawk like a chicken". It may be a bad idea, but it's nothing that a lawyer has anything to do with.

my opinion.... (1, Insightful)

greechneb (574646) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244056)

Unless you're hiding something, I wouldn't object. I had to submit to a full background check, and it didn't bother me.

I consider it a small price to pay to obtain unemployment. After all, if you won't take the job, and the check, there are thousands of other people who would jump at the chance. Its your choice though...

Re:my opinion.... (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244149)

**unless you're hiding something**

Let's apply this type of thinking to other areas. If they had said "We want to see your privates - after all, this can affect your medical claims, sick time off, etc..." you'd tell them to shove off, woudn't you?

It seems to me that a check for a criminal record would be more relevant, and more justifiable.

or, tell them, no problem, but you first want them to sign for permission for you to check their personal credit - after all, you want to know just who you're giving this information to, and you don't want it to be abused.

When they object, threaten to sue them for discrimination.

Re:your opinion.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244163)

is bad.

Taking the stance that there is nothing wrong with seeing it unless you are hiding something is an incredibly foolish stance.

If you aren't hiding anything, why not let the local police department perform a regular search of your house?

If you don't feel they should, you must be hiding something.

Re:my opinion.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244201)

Just because it doesn't bother you doesn't mean it's right.

It may also leave you in a difficult situation if you've left a position for the new one without being told that you would be subjected to a credit check. You lost the ability to decline without real economic harm when you gave up the other position.

Re:my opinion.... (4, Interesting)

sedawkgrep (142682) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244209)

People like you scare the hell out of me.

You let other people dictate to you the terms upon which you're allowed to do things. Even work. I agree that a criminal background check is probably worthwhile and a legitimate business concern - but a credit check? No. The only people to whom that should matter are those who can LEND me money.

I don't see this being any different than an employer asking to see what kind of food you have in your fridge, in order to determine if you're a healthy eater. If you're a conciously unhealthy dieter, it's probably reflective on your work habits, your personal life, etc.

No thanks. Take your job and shove it up your ass. I'd rather work blue-collar than submit to that type of fascist regime.

I love my country but jesus christ...people need to stop putting the almighty dollar above personal privacy and freedoms. It's like the executives who make these ridiculous decisions are so insulated from reality that they don't even realize that they're chipping away at the foundations of American life. I wonder how freedom-less life will be in 50 years.

I'm scared.

sedawkgrep

Negotiating Visibility and Terms (5, Insightful)

f1shlips (450124) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244058)

I couldn't get out of it, but I negotiated who would see my credit report, why they would see it, for how long, and how it was to be destroyed after veiwing. I got everything in writing and made them sign it.

Google (5, Informative)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244060)

is there anything it *can't* do?

http://toolkit.cch.com/text/P05_1585.asp

Re:Google (2, Interesting)

jj4 (627680) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244191)

Interresting, so if I read this right it is better to have gone backrupt than to have bad credit, becasue a company could refuse to hire you based on bad credit, but cannot based on the fact that you declared bankruptcy. That seems a bit strange to me.

Re:Google (2, Informative)

countzer0interrupt (628930) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244222)

is there anything it *can't* do?


http://toolkit.cch.com/text/P05_1585.asp
Yes, provide hypertext [cch.com] .

</sarcasm> :-)

Simple Solution (2, Funny)

KoolDude (614134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244061)


Gimme your job!

Maybe - Maybe not (3, Insightful)

kfhickel (449052) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244062)

If you're at an officer level position within the company, you're probably out of luck (Director may or may not be, depending on the company). Since officers (usually) can legally bind the company, so they "need" to know about your status.

If you're not at that level, I'd probably fight it, unless I really wanted that job.

Re:Maybe - Maybe not (3, Insightful)

los furtive (232491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244175)

Exactly. If you're going to be handling any substantial amount of money/assets or put in a position where you might have to (if boss is on leave, etc...), why wouldn't they check your background. It's no different then when they check your driving history before you become a trucker.

Hate to say this to you... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward +1 (645038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244063)

"I have refused to sign on the grounds that my personal credit information is of no business to the company and that they have no basis of need. "

I'm sorry, you must be under the illusion that your opinion counts. With the official unemployment rate at 6%, and the actual rate over 10%, you just better be thankful you get a bathroom break.

Now get back to work.

Re:Hate to say this to you... (2, Insightful)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244172)

>I'm sorry, you must be under the illusion that your opinion counts.

If they are looking for a quality employee, it does count. 6% unemployment is still pretty low. If you are good enough that they really want you, they'll waive the check. If not, take what you can get. ;)

Ask a lawyer? (1)

DEBEDb (456706) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244065)

Since they already hired you, and it doesn't
look like it was conditional on that check,
can they now just fire you for refusing to
provide this info, or maybe you can sue
their ass off?

Let them do it (1)

terminal.dk (102718) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244068)

First post :)

Let them do it. I work for a large retailer, and they check criminal records and background credit information on ALL emplyoees. That includes the cleaning lady etc.

That way, there is less likelyhood that people will commit fraud etc. And we have seen enough of that lately, especially in the USA.

Re:Let them do it (2, Funny)

DEBEDb (456706) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244095)

Yes, the cleaning ladies really cashed out
on that Enron thing!

Re:Let them do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244103)

Err why bothering putting first post in, when yoy are by no means gauranteed to get it?

It doesn't matter if you've nothing to hide... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244200)

"That way, there is less likelyhood that people will commit fraud etc. And we have seen enough of that lately, especially in the USA."

GOD DAMMIT YOU SLEAZY ASS MUTHERFUCKING FINK! All of the people that you refer to were in HIGH LEVEL POSITIONS, not some schlub webdeveloper. And I give you a 99% chance that the bigwigs have some loophole so that they don't have to give up their GODDAMNED civil rights just to get a crummy SHITEATING job!

It's like mandatory drug testing in the 90's. I'm all for it, let CONGRESS be first in line.

OFF THE MAN, BROTHERS!

Re:Let them do it (1)

Greedo (304385) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244213)

Oh please. Everyone who is going to commit fraud has to do it a first time.

Sure, if you've done it before you are arguably more likely to do it again. One would think that the employer could get that information by contacting your previous employers, though.

And, unless you are fiscally responsible for the company (i.e. on the Board of Directors), your personal finances shouldn't be of any use to them.

Oh ... and the asker says that they got all current and new hires to submit to this? So what? 40 counts of invasion of privacy don't make it right.

I'd check with a lawyer first, then tell your employer to stick it. Then again, I have a job.

Credit Check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244072)

They either need to wave the "credit check" or you need to find another job. Its more then a privacy issue, it's also once they have preformed the credit check they now have all of your credit information in their possession. Not something I would want my employer to poses.

(This also sounds like start of a scam to me.. but anyway.)

using funds (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244077)

Many positions require managing money with company credit cards and/or purchase orders. Would you want someone who writes bad checks and doesn't pay their bills to have this responsibility?

Don't take the job (2, Insightful)

jjonte (145129) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244079)

If you're that opposed to it...quit. Their loss. By caving in you're just giving employers permission to walk over you.

Let your skills be your selling point...not your credit report.

There is a two step process on this (1)

PMCausey (535514) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244083)

1. Call a lawyer, preferably one with experience in employment law in your state and ask if this is legal there. (In all likelihood, it probably is).

2. If you want to keep the job, give them what they want. Otherwise, fight it. In this economy, you most definitely can be replaced.

Simple (3, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244084)

I don't understand how this is different from a drug screening test. Most employers require it. How's that different from a background check?

They also read your email and monitor your surfing habits... them's the dregs. But it's their company, their rules, they're hiring you. If you don't like it, vote with your feet and walk away. Right?

Personally I'd be more worried if they told me they were going to do a check to make sure I didn't have Smurfs (replace with your race of choice) in my family lineage going back 100 years. Now that would be problematic.

Do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244088)

Submit the credit info. If you are denied the position, ask why. If someone else gets the position, I believe you are entitled to find out why they got it and you didn't. If they arent as qualified, or there is the remote possibility of it being a credit issue, sue.

Here.. (5, Interesting)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244089)

It is required for any contractor on the campus.

They whacked this on us last year as "new and different".

They included, but were not limited to:

Drug testing (one time, so far, not random)
Drivers License History/driving record check. (they did that one)
Credit Check (they claim that it is due to the chance of getting a corporate credit card)
Criminal background check.
"other checks as necessary".

That one, "other" I specifically crossed out when I signed my "permission' to do those.

My Company (the contracting firm) basically said "Do it, or leave".. so no, I had no real choice. The fact that I live in an "employment at will" state doesnt help either.. means i can be fired any time for any thing.

(Course, my company also believes that I can be terminated for things on my personal computer at home if I connect to their VPN network and have as much as threatened to do so. Therefore I refuse to connect from my home PC, even if it is required by my job.. I tell em I will do it at 8:00 am the next morning when I get on-site.)

Its an ugly thing.. but I strongly suspect that you wont be able to do much about it..

I want to see mandatory drug testing for congress, with printed pass/fail results, personally.

Maeryk

Re:Here.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244145)

Credit Check (they claim that it is due to the chance of getting a corporate credit card)
--

Well, tell them , "When it gets to the point that I require a corp card, then come back and do the check, until then its not needed. Have a nice day."

That's the world today (2, Insightful)

mrleemrlee (192314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244091)

This is becoming increasingly common, from what I understand. Insurance companies are also using credit scores to help determine rates for auto coverage. Miss a credit-card payment, and your car insurance costs more!

And the shadowy credit-scoring companies, largely unregulated, are the ones wielding all this power.

In your situation, you can try your argument, but then it will come down to submit to the check or don't take the job. The company is perfectly within its rights to ask for this information, especially for a managerial position.

not to crazy (2, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244093)

It is reasonable to assume that someone who isn't smart enough to manage his own money would mismanage company money. I never understood bad credit. Why would someone think he can spend more money he has and get away with it? If you can't afford something, don't buy it. Geeze.

Re:not to crazy (1)

XO (250276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244212)

In my situation, it was an issue where I COULD afford the credit that I had used, and then I was put into a position AFTER I had used it, where I could no longer afford it.

Sometimes life gets shitty.

Sometimes things you don't like happen.

Security Clearance yes, Private industry no (3, Insightful)

jgordon7 (49263) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244094)

Well I know this is a standard background check policy when going for a security clearance (basis there is people with money problems can be easily corrupted). However in the private industry for a job that does not require clearance that seems like an unreasonable request.

Do the right thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244104)

If you do not really need the job, turn them down. Accepting their terms implicitly gives consent to their crappy policy

If you really need the job, then put it on your 'todo' list to overturn the policy; you may have a good chance since you are a director. At least you might make it better for future employees.

How to argue. They probably have a precedent from a problem employee. Try to show from historical data that there is no correlation between poor credit history and employee performance/trust.

hmm. Not too much to add (1)

XO (250276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244105)

I don't have much to add to this, but my employer also does this now. When I was hired, 9 years ago, they did not, although I would have passed then. Now, I would not pass anyone's credit checks for squat, so I really doubt I could get hired into this company again.

Also for purposes of promotion beyond lower level management, they run credit checks, though they have done that for a lot longer than they have for basic employment.

I'd be interested in hearing how this turns out for sure, as I am interested in going farther in my company.

I don't necessarily agree with the argument about people who can't handle their own finances and such.. but, in the lower ranks of my company (a retail service), since we've instituted the background and credit checks, we've a LOT less people get terminated for stealing from the company. So, unless someone has a better idea, I'm actually for it, even though it would have prevented me from getting into the company if I were trying to now.

Re:hmm. Not too much to add (1)

mrleemrlee (192314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244217)

" ... a LOT less people get terminated for stealing from the company ..." Where the heck do you work? It's like a police officer saying, "Now that we carry guns, WAAY fewer of us get killed in the line of duty."

it will hurt your credit rating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244111)

everytime someone looks up your credit who isn't you, it negatively impacts your credit rating. Granted, one look isn't going to hurt anything too badly, but maybe say that you're hoping to get a loan soon for X and you are on the border of getting prime rates, and thus unless they're willing to compensate you monetarily you would have to say no.

Or just say, "Fuck you, no."

can this be legal? (1)

squarefish (561836) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244113)

sounds like an easy way to discriminate with your permission. call the aclu and a lawyer- this should not be allowed!

Condition of employment? (1)

kefoo (254567) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244117)

I don't know how the laws on this work from state to state, and I'm just hypothesizing here, but if agreeing to the background check was not given as a condition of employment when you were offered the job can they legally require it now?

Ah, the joys of seeing the shoe on the other foot. (1, Insightful)

Doktor Memory (237313) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244118)

What goes around comes around. Remember all of those insane signing bonuses and perks that useless rockstar programmers and IT staff were getting 2-3 years ago during the boom? Well, now we get to see management and HR getting their chance to get some of their own back.

It's best to look at this as an exercise in schadenfreude: all of those wanna-be technolibertarians who spent most of the 90s shuddering and twitching at the mere mention of unions, collective bargaining or any other manifestation of labor rights now get to find out the hard way what life is like when management holds all of the cards.

That cold, unwelcome sensation invading your rectum? That's the invisible hand you professed to adore so much last year. Enjoy!

This is getting to be fairly common (1)

fjaffe (469551) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244119)

Many companies are going down this route, and you will probably have to live with it. There are a number of benefits from the companies perspective, especially where the company may be liable for any misbehavior on the part of the employee, or if the company is dealing with sensitive information (healthcare and financial services, for example).

The only real problem here is that the company should disclose this in advance of making the offer, or as a condition of acceptance, not after you show up. In addition, they should really safeguard the information, not include it as a routine part of an HR file.

The more you argue, the more you are probably creating a "first impression" as a trouble maker.

Let's say you have a lot of debt... (1)

Microsift (223381) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244124)

I guess I can see why they want this information, if you have a lot of debt that you would only be able to pay off through either years of austere living, or selling corporate secrets, I'd like to know about it before I gave you the opportunity to do the latter.

has this happened to anyone in Europe ? (1)

selderrr (523988) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244127)

I seriously can not imagine such stuff ever to happen in Belgium, and perhaps not even in Europe...

Has anyone on the ancient continent ever been blackmailed like this ?

are you bribe-able? (1)

rtgree01 (457275) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244128)

I had to submit to a credit check for my current job. I work for a defence contractor, and they needed to see if I am possibly bribe-able. We wouldn't want to make espionage easy by using highly susceptible employees...

RUN!!! (1)

msoftsucks (604691) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244132)

Run away from this company! If they are willing to infringe on your privacy at this stage of the hiring process, what will the do when you are on their payroll fulltime? Is this really the company you want to work for?

Companies like the are run by PHBs.

WTF? (1)

Chocolate Teapot (639869) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244136)

This is appalling. As far I recall (I am an English expat), in the UK it isn't even legal to ask someone's marital status at an interview, let alone financial status. Doesn't a company have to get written permission before they can even follow up on references? I can sort of understand such checks on a prospective employee of a large financial institution, but a technology company? Tell them to go fuck themselves.

the reverse is unthinkable (4, Insightful)

pohl (872) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244137)

It strikes me that a company that cannot manage its finances responsibly would not make a good employer either...but would you be allowed to peek at their ledger when seeking a job? Even if it were a policy that you had set for yourself and you must apply it to all potential employers for the sake of consistent application?

My company does it now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244140)

Where I work instituded this policy after I was hired. It only applies to new hires, so my credit won't be checked. I did protest the policy when it was added, and the company argued with the same reasons. But mostly from the theft aspect. The reason the put the policy in place was they just had to fire the president's brother in law. He was stealing from the company. He had a huge amount of dept from what I understand. But he also had serious drug problems. If they had just inforced on of the other rules already on the book, the drug testing they could have gotten rid of him. But the didn't because they don't want to test the other employees a lot of which take "smoke" breaks during the day.

My worry is, I have very poor credit, but I do make enough to pay my bills (when I feel like it), so I never thought of stealing from the company. I just do my work to get my pay check to buy more toys I when I should pay off the ones I already charged.

Can they prove this? (1)

Starrider (73590) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244142)

First question you should ask the CEO, is can they prove a direct link between bad credit and stealing from the company?

Next up: they should be aware that they cannot have you sign one sheet of paper that authorizes them to run a credit check on existing employees anytime they wish. By law, each and every credit check requires a separate signature.

Also advise them that the purpose of a credit check is to note your credit worthiness when BORROWING money. Most contracts and most employers prohibit you from borrowing money from the company. Tell them you will sign a credit release if they will allow you to borrow money. Legitimate credit checks can be run by banks, car dealerships, cell phone companies (that aren't pre-paid, you are in essence borrowing money until your payment is due.)

I would also contact your District Attorney's office and your State Attorney General.

Also, if they ask you to list your traffic tickets, REFUSE if the job does not involve any driving. This is an illegal question.

Employers try to get away with lots of illegal questions just because no one says no.

Take the job (2, Interesting)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244143)

Bend over, take it (principle aside, it's almost certainly meaningless anyway), work late one night, walk over to HR, pull all senior management's credit ratings, post them to f'dcompany or similar.

On a more genuinine note. The counter to the "everyone has had to do it for the last year" is "Why only the last year? If you retroactively went back and did everyone, I'd consent, but this is clearly a discriminatory policy put in place by people who knew they couldn't be affected by it."

Credit check? How about a Karma check! (1, Funny)

joelparker (586428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244146)

A smart IT manager would skip the credit check and look at your Slashdot posts instead...

Need the job? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244151)

Two years ago I would say screw them. Now I'd say take the job. There are thousands who wish they had a job period, regardless of the terms.

It's worse than you think.. (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244161)

You should be aware that your credit history is more open to prospective employers than creditors. If you've had bad credit more than 7 years ago, it will roll off your credit report, and will not affect your ability to get new credit. Nothing over 7 years is visible on a standard credit report.
BUT.. there is a special provision in the credit laws, allowing any employer who does a credit check for a job over some fixed amount ($35k IIRC) to see your ENTIRE credit history, back to day 1.

Yes - Negotiating this one is simple. (4, Informative)

Marasmus (63844) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244162)

Yep - I've been in the same boat. A previous employer wanted to pull a credit report on me. Interestingly, I have very good credit, but I was planning on purchasing a new car soon and did not want to have unnecessary credit checks done, as some institutions like to use this as a perverse excuse to deny financing on a car.

My statement was very straightforward: "I will not sign this on the grounds that you do not have the right nor privelege to require this information for the sake of employment. If you care to push this issue further, I will schedule a court date at the County courthouse and we will deal with it there."

The employer backed off, and I worked there for nearly two years. You would have REALLY shit if you saw the sort of privacy-invading NDA employment contract they tried to require of the programmers who were hired after me... Thankfully the first programmer through the door fought that NDA until it was toned down to a sane level (at maybe 10% its original potency).

No Worries (3, Insightful)

glenstar (569572) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244166)

Chances are, and I am speaking from experience, that the company will not run the credit check, but that your saying it is okay will show that you have nothing to hide.

That aside, I worked as a contractor many years ago for a very large software company (whose name ends in "soft") on a project dealing with a large financial institution. The process of checks was nearly as involved as those to get top security clearance. I understand the reason behind that, of course: by working on the project I became privy to information about how the large financial institution did business.

I am going to assume that the poster has bad credit. That in itself is not a reason to *not* get the job, especially if you are honest with your employer and state something like "I have had some bad luck in recent years, but, hey, who hasn't with the economy the way it is?"

All of that being said, I would sign the release. Companies need to cover their asses, and this is just one more way of them doing so.

NPR Story (4, Informative)

tetrad (131849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244167)

National Public Radio had a story [npr.org] about this a couple days ago.

You work for them, they make the rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244170)

It's really very simple. They have rules, and if you want to work for the company, you must play by them. There's really no debate here -- it's your choice.

eastern north carolina (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244173)

noticed this twice around here but thought that since it's rural eastern north carolina and normal laws don't appear to be followed that it was what they did

EOE (1)

j_kenpo (571930) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244176)

I've always found this to be an interesting argument and requirement for jobs myself. If a company were an EOE (Equal Opportunity Employer), wouldn't discriminating based on credit history be just as bad as discriminating based on race/ethnic group? I think it can easily be argued that this is yet another racist hiring policy based on the assumption that minority groups would be of lower financial status, which as anyone who got a credit card when they went to college would know is not exactly the case. I think it should be brought to the attention of the ACLU or something, its no more a company's policy what my credit history is than how many dogs I have, what size bed I sleep in, or any other matter that I don't feel they have a right to know. A company's argument that someone's credit history is a check of character is absurd. And since its illegal for creditors to call your job, the argument of distracting phone calls is BS. I agree with the poster, it really is none of their business.

A Practical Solution (4, Interesting)

syntap (242090) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244177)

One compromise may be to give them a notarized letter stating your FICO score. Check out MyFico.com or other sources to get this cheaply. This will satisfy their question of good vs bad credit WITHOUT giving them the details of your credit history. For those not familiar with FICO scoring, it's a single number representing your credit risk ranging from 200 to 850 or something like that. Seems to be a good way to satisfy their intentions (if they have communicated them truthfully) and your privacy.

Barring that, I agree with another poster who suggests meeting in a room for a limited period of time with a printout of your credit report that you bring and take away from the meeting.

Isnt it common knowledge... (1)

LordYUK (552359) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244179)

... that ALOT of employers require this now? I have known of a few jobs where they have told me up front or on their applications (be it online or paper) that they require a credit check, and if you have a problem with that, seek employment elsewhere.

AFAIK the basis for this is that if you cant manage your own finances then you are more likely to be a not so hot employee, and more likely to steal to get yourself out of the hole than someone with less credit problems.

Note, I dont necessarily agree with that, nor do I know it for fact that that IS the reason, and now that I've been interrupted 10 times from writing this, its probably redundant...

ahh well..

Let 'em (4, Informative)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244180)

They have the right, but, by law (in the USA) if they make a negative decision because of the credit report, they have to inform you of that. This is often overlooked. There was a report on this on NPR recently (Jan 31st, All Things Considered) [npr.org] .

At the very least, you should check your credit report to make sure it is accurate.

Just Say No. (3, Insightful)

mad.frog (525085) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244181)

Unless this is a job that you Really Want (or Really Need, for that matter), tell 'em to stick it. Times are tough for job-finding, but at the end of the day, it's just a job, and not worth sacrificing your principles over.

Whether or not such a credit check is deemed "necessary" for a Director-level job is not really relevant, in my opinion: if it's personal information that you don't want to give, don't give it, and if they don't like it, tough.

I wouldn't work for a company that wanted to a credit check, drug test, etc. on me, simply on principle.

BAD...Credit scores reflect frequent credit checks (5, Interesting)

siskbc (598067) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244190)

The problem here, beyond the obvious privacy issues, is that people can be adversely affected by credit checks. I mean, where does this stop? Currently, the more credit checks you have, the worse your credit score becomes. So, if this becomes the norm, and companies start doing this even for potential hires (as they very well may), then there are going to be some people seeing their credit rating downgraded simply because they were looking for a job. It won't make an enormous difference, maybe, but even a small difference can make a difference over the life of, say, a mortgage.

This wouldn't be so bad if getting a house didn't routinely follow getting a job...

Take a running jump!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244192)

i'd sign the document, let them see my disastrous credit history and after they've 'let me go' drag them roughly through the courts for unfair dismissal - your credit would be okay then :)

be thankful (1)

ColdBoot (89397) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244194)

that you aren't trying to get a government job requiring a security clearance. A credit check will be the least of your worries.

Lastly, vote with your feet. If you don't want to do it, leave.

None of Their Business (1)

Elbow Macaroni (315256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244196)

If you can start a business just like thiers and compete with those jerks, maybe you can hire all their unhappy employees from them.

I support the employer (-1, Flamebait)

Mdog (25508) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244202)

You do not have a right to that job. If you don't like their terms of employment, don't work there. Problem solved. HAND.

Security risk... (1)

Faeton (522316) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244205)

Just like a criminal record check, these credit checks are quite useful in ID'ing potential problems. The government does this to military/CIA personnel to ensure that people holding vital information would be less likely to take bribes for information.

Of course, there's no solid way to prevent bribes from happening, but if you've had credit problems, you know how "under the gun" you feel when the agencies heckle you for money. Sometimes you would almost do anything to get rid of them... Hmm.. sounds like SPAM!

Of course, you have all the rights to refuse to a credit search. Unfortunately, the company has all the right to refuse to hire you on those grounds alone.

I don't understand this question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244208)

Either:

A) You want to work for this company and to do so you must do something that you do not wish to do.

B) You want to work for this company but are unwilling (Which is your given choice) to meet the minimum requirements that they put forth and there for you must find another position WITH ANOTHER COMPANY.

Pick A) or B) and live with the decision. Nothing to really debate there.

Dealing with Employers Who Perform Credit Checks? (1)

SystemicRisk (562941) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244216)

The message to you (and every other employee) is: from day one you are not trusted. This is an ominous sign that is going to be a rotten place to work. It isn't going to get any better.

Think about the other side.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244218)

If you owned a business and were going to trust employees to make decisions on your behalf, manage their time and their money, potentially manager their customer's time and money, wouldn't you want to do these types of checks? There are many jobs this would not be necessary for. There are many jobs that it is.

The answer is simple... (1)

Zenjive (247697) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244219)

Don't take the job! Tell them you can't work for them if they're that paranoid.

I once interviewed for a company that attempted to do a credit check until I asked them why, then they backed off. They still did a ciminal check, which I didn't mind. After six or so interviews, I eventually didn't take the job because they wanted me to sign a salary agreement without letting me take it home and review it prior to signing. Very fishy business!

credit checks to get a job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244221)

I work for a company that has the exact same policy...maybe we work for the same company? I have heard a lot of grumbling on this, even people not getting hired b/c of their past credit history, however, I have never heard of anyone who has successfully argued their case not to have to submit to the credit check. Basically it comes down to whether or not it's worth getting the job...

Good Luck.

Wow, I'm shocked this is legal... (1)

daoine (123140) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244223)

But apparently, it is.

There's a little write up [msn.com] on msn.com which makes some good points though. Most importantly, really push to make sure that the information an employer isn't allowed to consider is removed from the report.

Other than that, I'm not sure there's much you can do, since there doesn't seem to be legislation protecting you.

i had to do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244225)

my first job out of college was at a .com working with bank info ... they wanted a background check and i had to get fingerprinted etc. obviously due to working with tons of financial data, they wanted to make sure they my fingerprints for record checking and make sure i wasn't having serious financial problems. But again .. this was dealing with banking information

Been there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5244226)

In my last job the company tried to do the same thing; full background check, drug testing, credit history, the works. I had already been working for them for about 6 months. It was, then, a 12 person company and has since grown to over 100.

I refused to submit to the drug test, and credit check and told them flat out that I would walk out the door if they insisted. I had nothing to hide, but didn't feel either was relevent to my work as a software engineer. The company dropped both of those checks.

Your work is what the company pays you for. What goes on in your bank account and body is none of there f*cking business as long as you are keeping up your end of the bargain and produce the work you said you would.

For pre-emplyment, I think it's reasonable to check references, work history, and educational history. Past that, it's none of there business.

There are arguemnts that travel on a company credit card would warrent a check, but the card is almost always in the employees name and issued based on the emplyees credit history.

More likely to steal because of bad credit? Hardly....

Often part of a security check (2, Insightful)

Ron Harwood (136613) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244227)

It's not unusual to see credit checks as part of a security clearance check... as people with great debt are often more likely to sell information or be otherwise comprimised by the offer of money.

However, I don't know what the law says about it with respect to general employment. Check with a lawyer before you do anything to rash (either way) if it really concerns you.

Refusing to submit is a good idea (1)

RagingChipmunk (646664) | more than 11 years ago | (#5244229)

A background credit check isnt simply calling the Credit Beureaus to see if you were late on your rent. There is so much on that credit report: IRS issues, Child/Spouse Support, potentially previous employment information, any legal suits... You're setting yourself up for an unreasonable search of your person/privacy. If the hiring-firm would detail EXACTLY what they need to see by reviwing your 'credit history' then it might be more acceptable. I have refused to submit to credit history and drug testing. I lost a couple gig's over it. Its bad enough to work for some self-righetous firm, but, I will not be a slave to one.
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