Dear Creditnet: I lost my job a year ago and have been unable to find full-time work ever since. I've also fallen behind on my bills during the past 6 months, which has really trashed my credit scores. I think my FICO scores are now below 600. I've heard that employers can pull credit scores when reviewing a job application. Is this true? If it is, this may be one reason I keep getting turned down for new jobs. Is there any way to avoid this?
Answer: Unfortunately, this is one of those credit myths that just won't seem to die. The truth is that while potential employers can obtain access to your credit reports with your permission (in most states), credit reporting agencies do not provide credit scores to employers. Let me repeat that so it's very clear. Credit reporting agencies, like Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, provide credit reports to employers but not credit scores. The important thing to note here is the difference between your "credit reports" and "credit scores".
They are not the same thing, even though many people tend to use the two terms interchangeably. Credit reports are generated by credit reporting agencies and contain a history of your credit-related activities as well as other personal information. Your credit scores, on the other hand, are 3-digit numbers generated from the information found in your credit reports. They don't remain as a permanent part of your credit reports and aren't tracked by the credit bureaus. The bottom line is a potential employer isn't going to turn you down for poor credit scores, but they could very well choose to overlook your application due to the information they find in your credit reports. If you have bad credit scores, your credit reports may have some questionable marks on them, right? If so, be prepared to explain what they are and why they don't make you a poor candidate for the job you're seeking