Myth: Employers use credit scores (video) – National Financial Literacy Month

National Financial Literacy Month – Video illustrates myth that employers use credit scores video shows media, experts, central bank and legislators furthering the myth that employers use credit scores in hiring decisions.

Myth: Employers use credit scores
Myth video: Employers use credit scores

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 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 and myFICO.

FHA average FICO score surpasses 700

FHA (the Federal Housing Administration) reports, “For the first time the average FICO score for insured cases reached the 700 level — actually 702.”

But, somebody thinks that’s not necessarily such a great thing.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD (FHA is part of HUD)) has just opened investigations resulting from complaints filed by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC).  NCRC states that its investigation “reveals that too many of the country’s largest financial institutions are refusing to lend under the FHA loan program to consumers with credit scores between 580 and 640, despite the fact that FHA policy establishes a 100% guarantee for refinance.”

However, lenders are judged by their default and claim rates, and their underwriting authority can be termintated if those rates are too high.

Also, see:  Average credit score chart, FHA loans.

Zillow and SF Chronicle believe Fed credit score info

Consumer reporting agencies TransUnion, Equifax and Experian all emphatically state that they do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

Despite that, again, the Federal Reserve claims that credit scores are, indeed, used in employment.  Zillow and the San Francisco Chronicle believe it.

The first sentence of a Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland commentary states, “Credit scores are used in nearly every part of our lives, from applications for car loans, mortgages, credit cards, and car insurance to even some hiring decisions.”

Canada – Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score

Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score,” is a publication of the Agence de la consommation en matière financière du Canada–also known as the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. 

You can even take a quiz.

Transunion and Equifax are mentioned; Experian is not.  Canada is not even on the Experian press page drop-down list of countries.  The company ceased consumer credit bureau operations in Canada in 2009 (but paid $207 million cash for and in 2010).

The FCAC, established in 2001 by the Canadian federal government, is an independent body “working to protect and inform consumers of financial services.”

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 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 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.

Credit dude on hiring and credit scores, Des Moines Register

To:  Matt
From:  Greg Fisher,
Date:  April 29, 2010
Subject:  credit score, employers, Des Moines Register

You said: “Know your credit score. Many employers today take your credit score into consideration when determining if you are the right person for the job.”  However, the consumer reporting agencies do not provide credit scores for employment screening.

You are at the top of the news searches this morning.  The story about people saying employers use credit scores is getting boring.  But, identifying who provided that information:  Now that’s interesting.

Who is your source regarding credit score use by employers?

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;; Pierce Nelson, Sibyl Slade, Jean Tate, Federal Reserve, Atlanta; Federal Trade Commission Office of Public Affairs; Gerri Willis, CNN;;; Aleksandra Todorova, Stephanie Auwerter, SmartMoney; Elizabeth Warren;;;; Gosia Wozniacka, The Oregonian; Jennifer Openshaw;;; John Peace, Don Robert, Susan Henson, Susan Thomas, Media Relations, Corporate Responsibility, Experian;;;;;;;;; Barry Paperno, Craig Watts, FICO
Sent:  4/19/2010

See and

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