When your bad credit keeps you from getting a job

Applicants wait to meet potential employers at a Manhattan job fair in New York City.

In the science fiction movie "Gattaca," society turns on everyone's genetics test. But here in the real world in 2014, it seems the fulcrum of all things may be your credit score. You expect the bank to look before lending you money, but what about credit checks when you go up for a new job? 

A recent study shows one in 10 job applicants have been rejected because something turned up in their credit history. And last month Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill that would, among other things, bar the use of credit reports in hiring. 

“What they are they trying to do is filter, so they are using a credit score to determine if you’re someone who is a risky hire,”Carmen Wong Ulrich, a personal finance expert and host of Marketplace Money, says of the hiring practice. “But it doesn’t necessarily go together that if you have a bad credit score, that you are going to be a bad employee.”

But today, people’s credit reports are a mess for a few reasons, Carmen says.

“Long-term unemployment, foreclosures on a home, or medical debt -- which is the number one reason people declare bankruptcy -- are not going to make you a bad employee,” she says.

To hear more about how people’s credit scores can keep them unemployed, click on the audio above.

 

About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.

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