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

CNBC draws USA TODAY into the fray

A story on CNBC’s website stated:

But how possible is it really to achieve an 850, and is it worth the effort? says that only .5 – 1 percent of consumers have achieved this golden number. asked CNBC for the name a person who, or the address of a document that, is the source of that statistic.  Rather than naming its source, CNBC replied that a myFICO representative said that 13 percent have a score over 800.  CNBC changed its story so that it said this:

But how possible is it really to achieve a perfect score, and is it worth the effort? reports that only 13% percent[SIC] of consumers have achieved scores over 800.

USA TODAY republished the CNBC article.

However, in July, USA TODAY published an Associated Press report that said:

On the positive side, the number of consumers who have a top score of 800 or above has increased in recent years. At least in part, this reflects that more individuals have cut spending and paid down debt in response to the recession. Their ranks now stand at 17.9%, which is notably above the historical average of 13%, though down from 18.7% in April 2008 before the market meltdown.

In July, Fair Isaac said that it would replace its distribution chart.  It has not done so.

Credit scores in old and new media

A CBS News correspondent said:

“(Your credit score) is what almost every company in your life uses to determine whether you are a credible, trustworthy borrowing candidate. From your prospective employers to your prospective landlords, most companies will check your credit score in order to gauge their risk. No one likes a deadbeat!”

An anonymous writer for Investopedia had the (exact) same thought

“Well, it’s what almost every company in your life uses to determine whether you are a credible, trustworthy borrowing candidate. From your prospective employers to your prospective landlords, most companies will check your credit score in order to gauge their risk. No one likes a deadbeat!”  [update, 4/24/2011]

But, even funnier, is that the chain goes one more step:  The anonymous writer thinks a lot like another writer.

The Counter-Plagiarism Handbook : CJR
Copy, Shake, and Paste
University of Chicago Plagiarism Guidelines


Update 12/23/2010:  Part Two

Canada – Pointage de crédit junk journalism from ValueClick

In an item on the Globe and Mail website, an Investopedia article contends, “Credit scores range from 300 to 850.”  However, in Canada the “pointages FICO vont de 300 à 900.”

In the U.S., the FICO credit score scale is 300 to 850.

Investopedia (who is actually based in Canada), a division of ValueClick, provides junk journalism articles to Hearst and Forbes, too.  Martin T. Hart is the chairman of ValueClick according to Forbes.  Whether you choose to believe Forbes about that is entirely up to you.

Enough to be Dangerous:

Recently, Experian (“the leading global information services company”*) announced that it and “will co-host a live, interactive, online town-hall discussion of credit reporting and scoring.” made the same announcement, replete with countdown clock to the exciting event.

Experian’s newfound public outreach/reach-out for goodwill follows the drubbing it took at the hands of Congress and the FTC regarding the debacle.  Among other adventures, Chairman John Peace and Experian have traveled the the viral video route recently.  There’s a fab, telegenic, “STYLISH, SMART, & SASSY” (click “HOSTING REEL” for a demo if you’re interested), newly-minted credit history expert and a bevy of B-list stars.  It’s all packaged up with cutesy, sprightly and playful plucking strings to indicate when it is time to laugh (and you will need it), similar to scenes on Wisteria Lane and at Seattle Grace.

If you think that you can manage all that (and would want to), Experian is still looking for you. knows Enough to be Dangerous.  They would have you believe that credit score factors include “employment, income” (FICO scores do not consider income and employment), and even “debt to income ratio.”  And, speaking of experts and employment, the consumer reporting agencies do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.  But today, while a battle rages in statehouses from coast-to-coast, one of the’s “experts” wrote that employers use credit scores.  It wouldn’t be the first time that that happened.  And, they are in good company.

Take what these two tell you with a grain of salt.  And if you participate in their forum, be sure to ask about your AWOL Experian FICO score, and what they are talking about with the line:  “Credit scoring helps potential lenders, landlords, and employers quickly gauge an applicant’s credit history.”



*as opposed to Equifax, “A global leader in information solutions” (and, indeed, “Leading with Integrity“), or TransUnion, “a global leader in credit and information management.”

Experian’s sloppy work

Experian continues to sell credit scores saying that employers use them, while stating that employers do not use them.

They just don’t pay attention (too busy preening for the camera and creating bizarre advertisements).

While waiting for Experian to blink, see some other screw-ups by the British:

  1. Credit scores represents your creditworthiness and indicate the likelihood that you will repay a debt as agreed.”
  2. “However, a credit scores are not stored as part of your credit history.”
  3. And, the best one: “Credit scores are based entirely on the information found on an individual’s credit scores.”

Let’s hope so.