Can Your Credit Score Keep You from Landing Your Dream Job?

Can Your Credit Score Keep You from Landing Your Dream Job?
You’ve made a few mistakes in the past with your credit. Maybe you have a high balance on one of your credit cards and make only the minimum payment every month. Or perhaps you paid a few credit card bills late last year. Now you have an interview for a fantastic new job, but you have a nagging feeling that your credit score could keep you from getting the job offer.

Will you be asked to undergo a credit or financial background check?

Sometimes the worry is totally unfounded, because not all jobs require employees to agree to a credit or financial background check. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers must ask for your permission before conducting a background check.

The 2016 National Financial Educators Council survey found that 26.3 percent of respondents reported that an employer or potential employer conducted a credit or financial background check. This means that the majority of potential hires are not asked to undergo a credit check. Additionally, if you live in one of the 11 states where employment credit checks are prohibited, an employer legally cannot conduct a financial background check as part of the pre-employment process.

What are employers looking for?

If you are worried about your credit score being on the low side, you do not need to be concerned. Employers do not receive the three digit number, but instead see the actual credit report, says Nerd Wallet. According to, when your employer reviews your report, they will see a list of any loans you have outstanding, mortgages and all of your credit card accounts, as well as their balances. Your report also includes any late payments, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

Many companies use the credit history to gauge your overall trustworthiness and level of responsibility. However, some companies use the information for positions that have control over finances—operating under the assumption that people in financial trouble might be more tempted to steal funds from the company.

What happens if the employer does not like what they see in the credit report?

Yes, it is possible you could lose a job offer or promotion due to information in your credit report. According to a recent National Financial Educators Council survey, about 4 percent of people surveyed stated that they had been turned down for a job or promotion due to their credit or financial background.

However, if you do lose a job or promotion due to your credit history, you won’t be left wondering if that was the reason. The FTC advises employers that before they turn down an applicant due to information in a consumer report, which includes credit information as well as criminal history, the company must notify the applicant of the information and provide them with a copy. This gives the person the opportunity to confirm that the information is accurate.

There are many reasons to keep your credit in good shape. If you practice good financial management and pay your bills on time, your credit report could be one less thing to worry about when applying for a job.

Your Identity Has Been Stolen: What to Do First

What to Do First After Identity Fraud

It can be an overwhelming feeling when you find out your identity has been stolen. You fear the worst, but don’t know where to start. There may be a lot of work to be done to clean it up, but the first things you should do are take steps to stop new fraud from occurring. 

Here are five things you should do immediately after you discover you have been a victim of identity theft:

1.     Put a Fraud Alert on your credit reports. According to FTC Guide Taking Charge: What to Do if Your Identit­­y is Stolen, the very first thing you need to do is get a fraud alert placed on your credit report. This lasts for 90 days and will require banks or companies to contact you personally before opening new accounts or credit. You must call one of the three credit bureaus to report the crime, and that bureau is responsible for alerting the other agencies.
2.     Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. You can report the crime to the FTC through an online form. During the reporting process, the FTC will help you create a customized recovery plan. You will also be given an ID theft affidavit.  
3.     File a report with your local police. According to, you may need a police report, as well as the FTC report, to report the fraud to any financial institutions where you have an account. Bring your FTC ID theft affidavit with you to file the report. Although the police may not solve the case, it is still important to create a record of the crime to potentially help local authorities become aware of any larger problems in the area.
4.     Request your credit report and review for errors. You are entitled to a free credit report after an identity theft. Request your credit report from all three credit bureaus and carefully review the reports for any new accounts or lines of credit that you did not open. US News & World Report recommends checking any accounts that are dormant or that you are not currently using for new charges.
5.     Contact the banks and companies where the thief opened accounts. If you find fraudulent activity, immediately contact the company and request the account(s) be locked or closed.

Time is important when it comes to identity theft. Prioritize these five steps to help prevent any additional fraudulent accounts being opened. By quickly taking action to contain the damage, you can then begin the process of removing any blemishes from the crime from your credit history.

Yes or No: The Store Credit Card Debate

Yes or No: The Store Credit Card Debate
You go to check out at a big box store or department store, and the clerk tells you that you can save 10 percent (or sometimes more) off today’s purchase if you apply for a store credit card. As you are doing the math in your head, she rattles off a list of other benefits that will likely save you money. But you wonder if getting a store credit card is a solid financial move or if it could negatively impact your credit score.

Here are 5 questions to help you determine if getting a store credit card is the right move:

Are you building or rebuilding your credit history?

Store cards can be easier for someone with a low credit score or a short credit history to obtain. This often makes store cards a solid choice for people establishing credit or repairing a low credit score. However, if your goal is to improve your credit score, you must pay your bills on time and keep the balance low.

How many other recent inquiries and new accounts have you recently opened?

For example, if you have recently bought a car, opened a different store card, and had a credit inquiry while applying for an apartment lease, you may want to consider passing on a new card at this time. Hard credit inquires, which include applications for new credit or loans, accepted credit card offers, and credit limit requests, can lower your credit score. 

Are you planning on paying off the card monthly or possibly running a balance?

Hopefully, the answer is pay it off every month. But if there is a chance you will be carrying a balance, you need to carefully think about the impact on your debt to available credit ratio. If your credit utilization ratio is over 30 percent, your credit score could be in danger and creditors may turn down your application.

What is the APR?

It’s easy to think that the interest rate is low because of an introductory offer of a low rate, but be sure to read the fine print to find out the actual APR. The 2016 Retail Credit Card Survey found that close to half of store credit cards carry an APR of 25 percent or higher. Even if you plan on paying it off each month, it’s important to know the rate since unexpected expenses may come up or your financial situation may change.
Will you save money with the card benefits?

If cardholders get free shipping on all online purchase and you order clothes from the store’s website several times a month, then getting the card will likely save you considerable money. Or if you are making a single large purchase, such as a washing machine, and the card offers a high discount such as 30 percent on a cardholder’s first purchase, then the cost savings may be worth opening a new card. According to the 2016 Retail Credit Card Survey, 26 percent of store credit cards reward you for spending more, and 50 percent offer signup rewards and purchase discounts. Since store credit cards often come with a host of benefits, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding to take the leap.

By carefully considering the impact to your credit as well as the financial benefits of opening the account, you can feel confident that you are making the right decision each time you add a new credit card to your wallet