Recruiting Company for Employer Requesting Credit Report
July 15, 2013 8:12 PM   Subscribe

I have been offered a job in the city I'm moving to -- only the recruiting company that the company offering me the position uses for hiring processes not only wants me to submit to the regular drug screen and background check -- but also to a credit check. According to my state's law, this may be illegal. I have hospital bills spanning from a surgery I had to get a few years ago after I lost my job/ insurance. Can I spin this in my favor at all or am I screwed?

The company jumped at the opportunity to interview me -- they had called just a few hours after I submitted my resume. At the interview, the two employees spoke to me like an old friend, and I was given the job offer today.

The woman at the recruiting office has sent me some paperwork -- asking for all employers from the past 7 years as well as credit/tax information and a drug screen once all of that comes back. Not only does it seem invasive, but this law here seems to suggest that doing so in my state may indeed be illegal. I'm not sure what "under certain circumstances" means as my job is not related to any government agencies at this point however I know other branches of the company in other states may have contracts with said agencies.

I could really see myself excelling at this job and I feel given my past job experience would make me a valuable asset -- but how am I supposed to prove this to an employer with medical bills from years passed hanging over my head?
posted by camylanded to Work & Money (13 answers total)
I would just complete the sections of the paperwork you are happy with and return it. Then if they ask you can say that you are not really comfortable disclosing that particular information unless there is a valid reason for the job in question. The employer wants you and this is probably the agency protocol so they may not even question it.
posted by Youremyworld at 8:44 PM on July 15, 2013

I'd call the hiring manager and let her know what the credit check is going to say.

The reason they do these is they don't want trouble stemming from bad debt. (A law firm client of mine once had a repo man come and tow one of the staff's cars from the lot, causing a massive scene in front of everyone, clients, everything -- that's when they started instituting the requirement for the credit check before hire.) They also want to see that you're not some sort of grifter.

A situation like yours is so ubiquitous, and so blameless, that I would be surprised if they'd hold it against you. But if you dissemble, that will probably be a deal breaker, because they will assume the worst. Tell them up front and it'll probably not be a big deal.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:47 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh ok wait, wait. The request came from the agency, not the employer? Call your agency and see if they're actually going to run the check. They cost money, you know, and not everyone does them; they just want to get the permission up front. IF they say that yes, this particular client actually runs the credit checks, then tell them what it's going to find. Otherwise let sleeping dogs lie.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:49 PM on July 15, 2013

When I worked in HR we did credit checks as part of our background check on applicants and we disregarded medical debts because we didn't see them as an indication of character.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:20 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

The foremost thing should be finding out whether this is required. There's got to be legal aid somewhere relatively nearby where you can call someone on the phone and get an actual, informed opinion on the matter. If it's not legal, I encourage you, strongly, to push back, though do so politely. Sometimes folks ask for that which they're not entitled to.

Let's say the request is legal. Now, do you want to go through with it? No. So again, decline. Or even just push back a little bit: "Why is this necessary?" If there's a distinction between the agency and the employer, push a little harder with the agency about whether the employer wants this check done or not. "It's standard procedure." "For all jobs, or just this employer?" and so on. Find out what the motivation is here. Agencies tend to be very obsessed with covering their asses, so they will often try to present as much information validating you as a choice. Make that easy where you're comfortable ("Here's 7 years of history, plus several references!") and push back/delay/decline where you're not.

[Please do assume that I will be bitching to no one in particular about the state of what companies think they can get away with during the hiring process. But that's not really germane to your question.]
posted by aureliobuendia at 12:26 AM on July 16, 2013

For my recruiting agency, I had to sign papers allowing for a background check, drug screening and credit check, but I don't think they ended up even performing a credit check. I'm rather new to this sort of thing, but it seems that the agency has already done the hard work of finding you, finding the job, and bringing the twain together, and it's generally to their advantage to keep things going smoothly.
posted by FiveSecondRule at 12:42 AM on July 16, 2013

All the places that I have worked that required credit checks also disregarded any medical debt. Even the place that I worked that was a giant asshole.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:23 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

A background check? Okay. A drug check? Erm... A credit check? Are you kidding? I know what I'd tell them.
posted by devnull at 4:56 AM on July 16, 2013

if you're firm on refusing the credit check, be prepared for them to decline to hire you. even if it is illegal for them to require a credit check "something" may come up. often these are company wide policies, and are non-negotiable.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:19 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

A lot of times, the credit check and background check companies are the same. My current job asked me to sign for a credit check, and I let them know outright that I had a foreclosure 7 years ago. HR wrote back saying, "Thank you for letting us know, but the paperwork is just to cover the company that makes sure you don't have a criminal record."
posted by xingcat at 6:42 AM on July 16, 2013

I agree with fingersandtoes-- medical debt is so common in America these days, and as long as you have an explanation and a handle on the debt, it should be fine. I work for a company that manages financial transactions, and any significant problems on the credit report (multiple accounts in collections, bankruptcy) indicate an increased risk of employee theft. They are probably just looking for big red flags.

If I were you I would go ahead and ask the new employer about it, but I doubt it will be a dealbreaker.
posted by stompadour at 6:56 AM on July 16, 2013

As a hiring manager, I don't see your credit check, background check or drug screen. Those items are handled by the hr/recruiter. Either you meet the standards or you don't. If you don't, then you are removed from my applicant pool. The specifics of your situation are not my business and I don't know why someone is removed. If you refused to do the required screenings, then you'd be removed from the applicant pool also.

The law actually has a fair number of exceptions such as manager positions, access to money or other assets, access to confidential information. Confidential information is a fairly broad sweep. An employment lawyer could give you more info on how the courts are interpreting this law.

If you called me to discuss it, then I'd simply send you back to the hr/recruiter. You have a right to privacy and only people who need to have access to credit/drug screen should ever see them. As a hiring manager, I'm not someone who needs/wants the specifics of your private info.
posted by 26.2 at 8:55 AM on July 16, 2013

26.2 has a good point. Some places, HR is completely separate from hiring. In any case, if the agency found you this job, that's who you need to talk to; don't go behind their back to the company. They want you to get the job; and they also may have no intention of running that check anyway. Call them and ask, and don't worry. They're looking for red flags; a medical emergency isn't one of those.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:40 AM on July 16, 2013

« Older From One Battery to Another   |   Looking for a new public high school in nyc.... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.