Credit Checks During Background Checks

18 June 2021
Capt. Bob Smith


Credit is just one of the areas you're evaluated on in background, like your driving record, drug use, medical, etc.

It's often not the problem but how you write out an explanation for the background. Most candidates turn themselves inside out when a simple explanation is often all that is needed to resolve most of the situations.

You're in the hiring process. Let's take it one step at a time. The badge is there. There is only one person keeping you from getting it . . . It's YOU!

"Sometimes I think my mind would kill me if it didn't need me for transportation."

It's not the items of concern, but the when and why. Like most candidates that enter the hiring process, they get hyper vigilant and the voices of panic and guilt start running around in their heads.

For other problems and misdemeanors, has the problem happened since?
Was this a financial problem? When did these incidents happen? If it was a financial problem, what was your financial situation then? Are the accounts current now? Of course, the best course of action is to maintain a good credit rating.

A divorce can cause havoc in many areas of your life. The goal is to be able to demonstrate a plan that you have it under control to be resolved. Having 3 accounts still in trouble will not look good.

You see, the chief doesn't want a collection agency showing up at the station or attaching your wages. Declaring bankruptcy can create more problems.

Certainly an unexpected job loss is a reasonable explanation of why your credit went south.

Many candidates live on a shoestring trying to gain the education and experience to get this job. A couple of 60 days late can be explained if you were between jobs.

One of my candidates had some outstanding bills. In his current background check he told the investigator how he was resolving the problem. The investigator told him if he cleared them, he could go forward in the process. He did. He went forward in the hiring process.

Another candidate's credit was not good, but his explanation was that his wife had returned to college for her teaching degree. She had recently graduated, got a good paying job and the turnaround had been made.

Question: I have a background check in the future. I do not have a criminal record nor have I gotten a ticket for the last eight years. I did have a credit card company cancel my account due to late payments. This debt was passed over to a credit collection agency which I paid. I also have some late payments with my health insurance. Living in the Silicon Valley can hit your pockets hard ya know what I'm sayin!!! Does this hurt me in any way???

Reply: Again, you know the background is coming up at some time. You want to know what your credit report says about you. More than 30% of credit reports have errors. A recent check on mine revealed addresses I have never lived at, wrong birthday, job experience and some of my son's credit.

Health insurance payments do not show up on credit reports. The best way to find out about your credit is to request a free copy from one of the 3 major credit bureaus. Here are the bureaus:

Equifax Credit Information Services
Box 105518
Atlanta, GA 30348
Phone: 877-463-5505 (for Credit Report orders)
Phone (800) 685-5000 (for disputes)

Box 949
Allen, TX 75013-0949
Phone: 888-397-3742 (for Credit Report orders)
Phone (800) 583-4080 (for disputes)

Trans Union Corporation (TUC)
P.O. Box 1000, Chester PA 19022
Phone: (800) 888-4213 (for Credit Report orders)
Phone (800) 916-8800 (for disputes)

If there is anything on your report that is not right, you can dispute it. The disputed company has 30 days to respond. If they don't, they will take it off. Many don't respond. If you still have a problem with an item, you can add a 100-word statement explaining why to your credit report.