Employers credit score Catch-22 myth, Washington Post Company

From: Greg Fisher
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2011
To: Allan Lichtman, professor, Department of History, American University
Cc: Meredith Hooker, managing editor for Internet, The Gazette; Ken Weiss, editor, Gazette of Politics and Business (weekend edition); Jeff Allanach, editor, Frederick County newsroom, The Gazette; David B. Simon, managing editor, Montgomery County newsroom, The Gazette; Vanessa Harrington, editor, Prince George’s County newsroom, The Gazette; The Washington Post Company
Subject: credit score, employers, The Gazette, The Washington Post Company, 2011-03-25

You wrote, “The American people are well aware of the problem of using credit scores for employment decisions.”

Who is your source regarding credit score use by employers?

See this message and your reply at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?cat=myth-2.

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

ScoreInfo website launched by Fair Isaac

Fair Isaac introduced another website today:  ScoreInfo.  In a press release, Jordan Graham, president of FICO Consumer Services said, “FICO launched ScoreInfo.org to help consumers better understand their disclosure notices and how to use that new knowledge to their benefit.”

On January 1, 2011, federal Fair Credit Reporting Act risk-based pricing notice rules went into effect.  The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve Board issued joint press releases, but there is no link to the Fed’s version here because its chairman, Ben Bernanke, has still not responded to the question about its statement about employers using credit scores.

The website joins Fair Isaac’s other websites FICO.com and myFICO.

Illinois governor: Employers use credit score

The national consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

In spite of that, as Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed a bill into law, he used the word “score” twice.  State Senator Don Harmon piled on.



Quinn (2:23):  “… will not allow employers to use credit score to decide whether or not somebody is going to get a job or somebody is going to get a promotion.”

Harmon (3:25) :  This bill strikes an appropriate balance.  It says, as a general principle, employers can’t use your credit history, your credit score, in determining whether or not to hire your or promote you.

Quinn (4:21):  “Unfortunately, some employers are using credit score of an individual person to decide whether someone gets hired, or someone gets retained on a job, or someone gets a promotion on that job.”

The new law, however, allows credit history use in the case of an “established bona fide occupational requirement.” 

The Chicago Tribune reported, “[Rep. Jack] Franks said a lobbyist working for TransUnion ‘duped him’ into replacing references to ‘credit history’ with ‘credit scores,’ which are not used in hiring.”

An official of Consumer reporting agency TransUnion testified in Oregon, “There’s no such thing as a credit score in employment.”  TransUnion is based in Chicago. 

At least, somebody is contolling the message in this messy state’s heady merry go round.  The governor’s press release does not include the word “score.”  But give him a break.  He didn’t run for the job.

AJC blogger counters her U.S. Senator

Speech-making, writing, blogging, stating and yakking adds up to much mush

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed its financial reform bill with an amendment regarding credit score use in employment.  Senator Udall from Colorado sold the idea by saying that employers use credit scores.  The problem with that is that the consumer reporting agencies say that they don’t even provide credit scores for employment purposes.

Udall has not replied to a request asking for substantiation.

Two weeks ago, as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution blogger profiled the Equifax consumer reporting agency CEO, the writer dropped the E-Bomb, referring to a “paranoia.”  Sh’yeah!  A self-fulfilling prophecy in the making.

The blogger has not replied to a request for substantiation.

But, redemption for ATL came in the personage of another AJC blogger.  She quotes her senator, then contradicts his statement.  Rana Cash writes:

“I believe it’s only fair to allow consumers access to their credit score when it is used against them to deny credit, require a higher interest rate on a loan or prevent an applicant from being hired for a job,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) in a statement. Employers often use credit reports, but do not have access to credit scores.

Ouch.  Ouch-O-Mondo-Matic!

The senator was asked by creditscoring.com to reply with substantiation.

Rag-tag army of dissenters

Cash is not alone.  John Ulzheimer, a New York Times blogger and no slouch in credit reporting and scoring said that there is “mountain of evidence that scores are generally not used by employers.”  He talks about the phenomenon on televison.  He had the last word on it– then had the last word on it.

Highly-intelligent and incisive Bankrate writer with exquisite taste in multimedia Leslie McFadden discovered the creditscoring.com video and wrote about the issue in “Credit score myth persists.”

In the Columbia Journalism Review, a reporter had an epiphany and, in a rare moment of leadership in the media, felt a sense of responsibility to his readers that caused him to– gasp– actually make a correction.

They are joined by ChoicePoint, the Privacy Rights ClearingHouse and CNN.

And finally, Lester Rosen, lawyer, author, speaker, expert witness and background screening company president– who knows a little about employment credit reports– keeps hammering away at the “urban myth.”

But, when you’re up against the Federal Reserve, with its access to congressional hearing rooms, it ain’t easy.

The Fed has not replied to a request for substantiation.

Request for Federal Reserve’s evidence regarding employers using credit scores

From:  Greg Fisher
To:  Sandra F. Braunstein, Federal Reserve
Subject:  credit score, employers, Federal Reserve, 2010-03-24
cc:  Michelle A. Smith, Federal Reserve; ConsumerHelp@FederalReserve.gov; Pierce Nelson, Sibyl Slade, Jean Tate, Federal Reserve, Atlanta; Federal Trade Commission Office of Public Affairs; Gerri Willis, CNN; realstories@cnnmoney.com; letters@smartmoney.com; Aleksandra Todorova, Stephanie Auwerter, SmartMoney; Elizabeth Warren; freshair@whyy.org; talkback@whyy.org; frontline@pbs.org; Gosia Wozniacka, The Oregonian; Jennifer Openshaw; PublicAffairs@dobi.state.nj.us; consumerfinance@dobi.state.nj.us; John Peace, Don Robert, Susan Henson, Susan Thomas, Media Relations, Corporate Responsibility, Experian; press.office@uk.experian.com; worldservice@bbc.co.uk; editor@mediaguardian.co.uk; haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk; gazette@independent.co.uk; online.editor@timesonline.co.uk; news@timesonline.co.uk; business@timesonline.co.uk; Barry Paperno, Craig Watts, FICO
Sent:  4/19/2010

See http://www.creditscoring.com/influence/government/federalreserve/employers2009atlanta.html and http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=1154.

Last month, you stated to congress:  “Credit scoring is widely used to evaluate applications for credit, identify prospective borrowers, and manage and price new and existing credit accounts. It is also used to facilitate decisionmaking in other areas including insurance, housing, and employment.”

However, consumer reporting agencies who compile and maintain files on consumers on a nationwide basis state that they do not use credit scores for employment purposes.

What evidence suggests that employers use credit scores? 

How many employers use credit scores? 

Do you have the identity of one employer who uses credit scores?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio   45409-0342

Legislation uses FICO, not Fake-O, score as benchmark

H. R. 600, the FHA Seller-Financed Downpayment Reform Act of 2009, introduced by “Mr. AL GREEN of Texas (for himself, Ms. WATERS, and Mr. GARY G. MILLER of California)” uses the term “FICO score” 5 times.  It is a bill “To revise the requirements for seller-financed downpayments for mortgages for single-family housing insured by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under title II of the National Housing Act.”  

In March, 2010, Representative Green said, “Thank you very much, and thank for that new term for my vocabulary: Fake-O.” (2:13:58 in the video)

Kucinich, DFAS, ABC, employers and credit scores

According to the web site of Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), employees at a federal agency have been suspended due to low credit scores.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich

A press release on kucinich.house.gov states, “The bipartisan group requested a suspension of a policy that has resulted in the unjust suspension of employees for reasons such as a low personal credit score until a full review can be conducted.”

The sub-headline is “Employees Suspended Indefinitely for Reasons such as Low Credit Scores.”

The release refers to a letter to the director of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) that was signed by Kucinich and three other Ohio members of the House of Representatives.  The letter uses the term “credit rating,” but does not contain the word score.

Consumer reporting agencies Equifax, TransUnion and Experian all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment screening.  A day before the Representatives’ letter, TransUnion submitted written testimony to the House Financial Services Committee stating: “We believe it is worth noting that credit scores are not used in connection with employment. TransUnion will not provide any score on a credit report that is obtained for employment purposes.”

A. Troy Marshall is the president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) – Local 3283.  Representative Marcia L. Fudge is a member of the House of Representatives from Ohio’s 11th district.  ABC news reports, “Marshall, however, argues that DFAS is making decisions based simply on the credit score” and “Like Fudge, Marshall says he’s not opposed to credit checks in principal, but says he believes the government should take an employees‘ performance and work history into account instead of relying just on a credit score.”

The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals reviews cases regarding employees, contractors, security clearances and debts using the “whole-person analysis.”

A senator, credit scores, losers and fake guitar playing

The lyrics to FreeCreditReport.com’s latest ditty:

Wanted to get myself a new cell phone
So I could hear myself at a ring tone
Who knew the store would go and check my credit score?
Now all they let me have is this dinosaur
Hello? Hello? Hello? Can anybody hear me?
I know. I know. I know. I should have gone to

That’s where I should have gone. Could have got my knowledge on

ANNOUNCER: Free credit score and report with enrollment in Triple Advantage.

Meanwhile, in a not-so-veiled reference to Experian (the owner of FreeCreditReport.com) U.S. Senator Charles Schumer states, “If these companies want to say – or sing for that matter – that they are giving people free credit reports, then they can’t charge people $15 a month, simple as that.”  On his website, Schumer continues, “My plan would finally bust up this scam and give consumers some honest choices”

One problem, as stated in the FreeCreditReport.com Terms and Conditions:  “The PLUS Score is not currently sold to lenders, and is not an endorsement or guarantee of your credit worthiness as seen by lenders.”

So, it really is true:  You don’t get what you don’t pay for.  See Fake-O FICO Funk.

Speaking of videos, don’t miss creditscoring.com’s montage of people talking about employers using scores— while the bureaus say that they don’t even sell scores for that purpose.

Michigan legislator on credit scores in employment

See http://michiganmessenger.com/14511/switalski-wants-to-stop-use-of-credit-reports-in-hiring-process .


To: The Honorable Jon Switalski
From: “creditscoring.com” greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: credit score, employer
Cc: Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon; Todd Heywood, The Michigan Messenger
Date:  March 17, 2009

You said, “If employers are allowed to continue using credit scores in hiring decisions, many hard-working people will be unfairly penalized.”

What evidence suggests that employers use credit scores in hiring decisions?