States consider banning pre-employment credit checks

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Poor credit ratings can impact a job applicant's chances of getting hired, according to Garry Patterson with Clearpoint Financial Solutions. Currently, 16 states are considering outlawing companies from checking credit histories during the hiring process.

"As a former employer so to speak, I would hire people for positions and we would do background checks and the reason for that is you want to see how that person conducted their own personal affairs," said Patterson.

The Region 8 News Facebook page was enumerated with responses suggesting that companies have no right to know a person's credit history. Other comments saw no problem with the act.

"I could certainly understand those areas where people had to deal with money and when you're working in those confines, that might be a concern for an employer," said Charles Nix, Poinsett County Judge. "You know, sometimes we do go too far."

The unemployment rate in Poinsett County is 8.5% according to Nix. Nix said more people are looking for work in today's economy.

"When we look at someone's credit report, if they cannot handle their own business, then there are concerns about whether they could handle our company's business," said Patterson.

Patterson said his business surged in the middle of 2008 when the economy started its downslide.

"When you're paying interest, you're actually purchasing money for a while and you want the best prices and you got to have that high credit score," said Patterson. "If you're going to go into a high security job with the government. We've counseled many government employees who were being threatened with their security clearance."

There are ways to improve chances of getting the job even with a poor credit rating.

"The first thing you need to do is you need to check credit reports and there are three of them. Check all three of them because sometimes there are inconsistencies," said Patterson.

Patterson said applicants should also pay delinquent notices.

"If I'm your banker or possible employer, when I look at that and say, well you hit a tough time and you went back and did the right thing," said Patterson.

"If you can go in there and explain to that prospective employer exactly what happened, when you look at a credit report, you can almost see exactly what moment in time that person had problems," said Patterson. "You don't want to let that stop you from applying for that job just because you got a concern on that report. Go in there, just be straight up, explain what happened and you'll get results."

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