Sacramento County Public Law Library

Ask the County Law Librarian: Credit checks for employment

Q: I have been out of work for a while. I applied for a part-time job and they asked me if they could run my credit report, I have never been asked that before, can they do that?  I had to declare bankruptcy 5 years ago, so my credit is not that good.

-Matt

A: Thanks for your question. Potential employers aren’t just reading your application and resume, some employers will check into your entire background. A background report can include:

  • your credit history
  • your criminal record
  • your employment history
  • your driving record

It is really important for you to know what is included in your own credit report. If your credit report has mistakes, you can fix them. You also can be ready to explain any information that is correct, but that might not look good to an employer. To get a credit report for free, go online or call Annual Credit Report at 1-877-322-8228.

As the job applicant, you have rights when someone, including a potential employer, buys your background report. You have the right to tell the employer not to check your background report, but you should be aware, if you do not give your permission, the employer might not hire you.

Before a potential employer can request your credit report or use it, they must notify and ask your permission. If after reviewing your credit report, the company decides not to hire you because of information contained in the report, they must tell you either orally or in writing. They will also need to provide you with information about the credit reporting company and your rights to dispute the accuracy of the report.

If you feel the employer did not comply, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission. Call 1-877-382-4357 to file your complaint. For more information about what to know when looking for a job, visit the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information website.

Keep in mind the employer does not need your permission to look you up on the Internet. With a good Google search, the employer might be able to see public information about you on websites, including social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  So you will want to be aware of how your online persona will appear to others.

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email sacpress@saclaw.org . If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian
www.saclaw.org

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