Q: I am job hunting and was recently turned down for two nonfinancially related positions due to my past credit problems. Any advice?
–L. Richards, Austell, Georgia
A: Screening job applicants based on their credit history has become common practice in recent years. However, “employers must provide written notice about their use of consumer information,” says Anaise Schroeder, director of human resources at the Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc. in Arlington, Virginia. “Additionally, an employer must obtain written consent from the applicant on a disclosure form that is clearly separate from the job application form.”
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), if you are turned down for a position based upon poor credit, the company must send you two written notices: first, a pre-adverse-action form that contains a copy of your credit report along with a brochure explaining your consumer rights under the FCRA; this is followed by an adverse-action notice that explains your right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of the findings.
Employers who fail to get an applicant’s permission prior to conducting a credit check can be sued for damages in federal court. Complaints can be filed with the Federal Trade Commission (877-382-4357, www.ftc.gov).