Credit checks for job applicants are unfair

February 25, 2011

Norm Magnuson's letter to the editor (Feb. 24) regarding credit checks for job applicants is indicative of the callous attitude employers often have towards job seekers.

Magnuson reports that the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners claims that employee thefts are responsible for about $1 trillion in business losses and then writes: "The top two red-flag warnings present in these crimes were instances where the fraudster was living beyond his or her financial means or experiencing financial difficulties. That's important because employee fraud and theft can very well determine whether a small business survives or not."

The implication seems clear: If you're experiencing financial difficulties, you're more likely to steal, so employers need to have the tools to categorize and reject you.

But what about honest citizens who lose their jobs through no fault of their own and then receive a bad credit score because they can't keep up with their bills? Do we pour salt in the wound and tell them: "You were once trustworthy, but now that you've been laid off, you're a potential 'fraudster.'" And so what is the ultimate policy here? That if you're laid off and fall behind on your bills you can never work again? Or, at the least, you have to overcome a presumption of criminality before getting hired?

Criminal background checks make sense; but presumptions of criminal behavior based solely on credit checks have no place in America.

Brent McKee, Arnold

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