What Really Shows Up on a Credit Check for Employment

You survived the interviews. You deftly explained where you see yourself in five years. You managed to sparkle even when you talked about your greatest weakness.

Now there’s just one thing standing between you and your dream job: a credit check.

But what happens when you have a lackluster credit score? Will past misssteps haunt your career prospects for years to come?

What Shows up on a Credit Check for Employment?

First the good news: Employers don’t see your credit score when they run your credit. Instead they see a modified version of your credit report.

Here’s what appears:

  • Open accounts with the account numbers redacted
  • Payment history
  • Outstanding balances
  • Amount of open credit
  • Accounts in collections
  • Bankruptcies from the past seven to 10 years, depending on the type of bankruptcy
  • Foreclosures from the past seven years

Now here’s the bad news: The things employers look for when they check your credit — primarily negative payment history or a high credit utilization ratio — are the top two factors that can crush your credit score.

So if you have a low credit score, your credit report will probably have information that could be a red flag to employers.

If a company does check your credit for hiring purposes, you don’t have to worry that your score will be affected. The pull is what’s known as a soft checkwhich has no impact on your score. A hard check, which occurs when you apply for credit, can ding your score by a few points.

Pro Tip

If your current employer wants to check your credit, they’ll need your written consent to do so.

When Do Employers Do Credit Checks?

For a lot of applicants, a credit check is unlikely to be an issue. A 2020 survey of more than 1,500 human resources professionals by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) found that just 6% of companies ran credit checks on all employees.

Obviously, credit checks are most common for roles that involve handling money…

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