Limit, don't ban, use of credit reports in hiring

March 23, 2011

Although proponents of the new Maryland law that would ban employers from using credit scores to determine employment eligibility make some important points, the ban goes too far ("Md. lawmakers want to limit credit checks on job seekers," March 20). Banning altogether the use of credit scores in the hiring process takes out of the hands of employers something that can be an insightful tool. Credit scores, after all, contain useful information that can be relevant to performance on some jobs.

Rather than calling for a ban, policymakers might want to look to laws that govern insurance companies' use of credit scores. In most states, including Maryland, insurers can use credit scores in determining rates, but they must disclose their actions and can't use credit as the sole factor in deciding whether to write a policy. Insurers also have to give consideration to unusual economic circumstances.

For the most part, this system works pretty well. Legislators looking to change the way employers use credit scores should consider imitating it.

Matthew Glans, Chicago

The writer is Midwest director of the Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate at the Heartland Institute.

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