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Mykle Ykle

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Should employers not hire you or fire you when they discover your bad credit history?

It has been a sad situation for me and many others in the USA (I don't know if this is an issue worldwide) I have great qualifications and work experience. Yet, in the majority of states you are obligated to submit to a criminal background check which is completely understandable, but that also includes a credit check. I understand that a credit check should be mandatory for executive, banking, casinos and industries directly involving money. Sadly, those of us with bad credit are being discriminated for regular jobs i.e. retail, call centers, customer service.

The government, banks and debt collectors wants their money, as they should. Yet, if you have bad credit, it's a lot harder to find a job making it impossible to get out of debt, let alone be a productive citizen.

This is an issue that is not widely discussed, I've searched online and there are some bills being proposed to end this discrimination but I don't think is really going anywhere.

I would like to have the TED community input in the most civil way possible.

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  • Feb 12 2013: I cant no matter how many time I read this in the media, come to the conclusion that is amazing short sighted, ignorant, prejudiced, and down right plain stupid.

    No one ever seems to equate this, with the same country, that has the highest prison population in the world. Unfortunately, the country seems to be putting itself in a "death spiral" of it's own making.

    There was a time, which was long ago, that said if you do the crime, and do the time, you're released as a free man.

    Now it seems as it's a life sentence. For people who truly realize what that means, a life of crime - is the only option. Then people wonder why they don't feel safe on the streets, go figure.
  • Feb 12 2013: I don't believe established bad credit should allow employers to dictate if a person should be hired or fire. Everyone at some point in their life will find themselves in a bind and in some kind of debt. Given the times we are living in it is very likely some individuals end up with bad credit. If a person has the credentials to perform the job why should they be penalized for having bad credit. Some say bad credit reflects poor business conduct when one is to meet deadlines or handle work related issues, I beg the differ. Many individuals are quite the opposite. I too was not able to attain a job because of my bad credit history. It was debt I created when I was younger and had a tough time paying off. I have raked in the top 5% at my job for performance 4 years in a row. Why should a bad credit rap sheet dictate an employer to hire me?
  • Feb 6 2013: I have hired people with good credit, bad credit and no credit histories with no problem. I don't think it matters at all.
    I have had more problems with managers who steal equipment for their families even though they make $100,000+ and don't need the charity, than I ever had with an employee who was having credit problems.
    For them, I would go out of my way to provide over time (if possible) to help them out of their situation.

    A more important criteria for hiring is personality and how that person "fits" in to the existing culture you have created at your company.
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    Mar 3 2013: I don't think employers have a right to look into our credit histories. Just like someone stated earlier, good or bad credit may or may not determine whether you're responsible as a person, but it can't determine whether you're moral and will make ethical decisions while on or off the clock and also it doesn't determine if you're even competent and able to do the job well.
    • Mar 3 2013: Even further, a credit check can only show that you were irresponsible with money in the past. It's really sad that companies are okay passing over potentially good employees because of credit issues.

      Something in favor of companies doing this: Apparently almost a third of people are lying about schooling, employment, and other things on their resumes.

      Something against companies doing this: Between Google Scholar and the two big psych/social science databases I have access to, I couldn't find any academic articles providing any kind of evidence that credit score matters correlates with bad employee behavior of any kind.
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        Mar 3 2013: Just wondering what you might consider lying on your resume?You mentioned almost a third lie about schooling,employment, and other things, which I don't agree with, but is it a lie if information is simply left out?I know on our resumes we put past work experiences but what if someone wanted to expand on only a few work experiences opposed to all of their past work experiences? Also resumes are a big place for people to lie anyways,or at least in a sense,flaunting skills or abilities that they might not actually be very "excellent" at.
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          Mar 3 2013: I think omitting information on a resumé is not lying if you are looking to customize a resumé for a specific employer. Embellishing however is something that should not be done, but it's too subjective.
        • Mar 4 2013: Well last resume like thing that I made I actually left out all specific details of my past work experience and made up a CV type thing instead because I felt my previous resume material was pretty irrelevant. As for the article I bumped into that comment from, I don't know if "lying" included leaving out irrelevant information. Obviously I put my own interpretation on what they meant since I quoted it here.

          But yeah... I tend to think more along the lines of embellishing or putting down experience/schooling that did not happen at all.
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        Mar 3 2013: I'm ok with getting a background check on my previous work experience and education, but not ok with them basing their hiring decision on credit score.
        • Mar 4 2013: Well hopefully someone will do some research to help us figure out if there even a basis for this kind of thing then.
  • Feb 23 2013: Using credit as a hiring criteria is not good for our economy and future.

    As an example, many people, during our recent recession/depression lost their jobs due to no fault of their own, i.e. massive layoffs. Even those who were careful with their money, had to use up their savings to survive, and eventually got behind on mortgages etc. Now, with bad credit, they become permanently unemployable. The use of credit as a hiring criteria is creating a permanent under-class of people who will not be able to get out of poverty unless they create their own businesses.

    Also, good credit is NOT an indicator as to whether a person is moral, honest, or trustworthy. Ben Franklin filed for bankruptcy, yet he would not be able to get a job in this era. I bet Bernie Madoff had PERFECT credit, with all the billions he racked in. That perfect credit did not prevent him from committing financial fraud. Nor the ones running the big banks that government recently fined for their mortgage fraud activities.

    Good credit does not mean someone is competent. That person may cause more problems on the job, and cause losses, than someone with bad credit but good experience and knowledge of the business.

    Good credit does not mean they will NEVER have bad credit. It just means they have not YET run into financial problems. No one knows what difficulties the future may hold. At one point Donald Trump told his daughter that a homeless man they passed on the street had more money at that moment than he (Trump) had (see video "Born Rich" by Jamie Johnson).

    Credit rating is a brief snap shot within one's life. You can go from a 620 score to 700 within 3 months with the right strategies. Something so variable and and erroneous (many reports contain errors) should not be used to affect something as long-lasting as one's career and earning potential, the contributions they can make within the business community and society.
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    Feb 6 2013: I think we have a slightly paranoid society, driven by the means of money and what money means to us, I believe that because of how the stock market reacts to negative news. Credit reports became a substitution of trusting someone, just like message boards substituted face to face conversations. In the here and now, reality is, they substitute for getting to know someone better, learning to trust, viewing the credit report before seeing the experience that person may have. Not everyone is as bad as their credit score, which says nothing about what kind of person you are, but the employer who hires that way, should be judged by their hiring practices as a company you might think twice about working for? Afterall, a job is not only about money but about investing the most precious thing in your life, your time.
  • Feb 6 2013: Employers should have the right to hire or fire employees based on any criteria they want. It won't always seem fair to the employee, but basically being forced to associate with (hire) employees that are not what the employer would prefer is unfair too. Also, if you are working for a company where you aren't wanted, whether the reason makes sense or not, you aren't likely to get promotions or raises as fast if at all. It is better to go where you will be appreciated.
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      Feb 6 2013: corollary to that: if any state or the federal government interferes with that process, it is immoral. and in some cases, like the case at hand, can be devastating to certain individuals.
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      Feb 6 2013: Hello Robert, I understand employers can hire of fire based on any criteria. Of course you should work where your wanted, but again, with this credit check limitation (which honestly affects mostly the hiring end) it's hard even getting to work where you're wanted. I went through a 3 interview process successfully, passed the drug tests, etc. Ultimately was denied the position due to my credit check and it wasn't even a position requiring good credit which is something mentioned on the requirements. It just seems unfair, your credit history should definitely be part of the EOO criteria for some.
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    Feb 6 2013: It is a changing world and many hiring practices are being called in to question. There is actually a similar question on TED right now regarding College degrees where people are being discriminated against regarding not having one. Sure in some situations you want it and in some it is ridiculous that an employer requires it. As with your background check. Perhaps for banking industries and casinos it is good to have but in others situations it is ridiculous.

    The last job I hired for had over 100 applicants in 24 hours on a Craigslist post and this was for an entry job. I can certainly see where employers need to add filters to the applicants to whittle them down. So a credit check might help narrow the candidates.

    BUT, to add a bit of insight from an employers point of view. (not that this is always the case, but it is a consideration)

    1. Bad credit means possible security or embezzlement risk. People get odd when they must have money
    2. Only people I have hired to ask for payday advances.
    2.a when refused they get bitter and add to a bad work environment
    3. If there is a court judgement against them then there is a lot of extra paperwork and legal issues for pay roll deduction.
    4. If the payroll deductions are not done properly then WE the employers are fined.
    5. Tend to be more resentful over pay.

    Okay, I realize that not all of the above are true and it is a generality... but as an employer I have learned over the years to watch this and take it on a case by case basis. The payroll deductions are a pain... dealing with governmental agencies to do the paperwork is a pain... etc. With the amount of applicants in today's market I can understand why employers use it as a filter and move on to another candidate.

    Not saying it is right but without better filter abilities it is what is available.
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    Mar 6 2013: I agree with ZX style, credit history is obviously for money not being paid. As an employee so are performing a service and getting paid for it.
    Maybe an issue would be as a risk management agent, or other jobs that require to handle money and investing it.

    (this would be a reason why I would think it would be negative towards a job) A bad credit report may show that the individual may not be organized and cannot handle responsibility for getting themselves in debts that they can't afford, however that is not the case with everyone. Therefore I would think that there would be better ways of qualifying an future employee.
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    Mar 3 2013: They should hire you. Everyone makes mistakes (by the way, there is no "s" on "want"). How can anyone ever correct themselves if not given the chance.

    By the by, that's what Christianity is all about - giving people another chance.
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    Mar 3 2013: This is a difficult, unfortunate dilemma for millions of individuals in developed countries around the world -- the Great Recession and its devastating impacts on the financial health and credit standings of so many.

    The vast majority of individuals who've fallen victim to this financial shock, or VIRUS if you will, who theretofore had been proud, financially healthy, responsible citizens -- suddenly found themselves unemployed, without sustainable income, and in many cases, over time, with little or nothing to show for their life's efforts.

    It is clearly an incredibly demoralizing experience -- inability to honor financial obligations; loss of independence; moving back in with parents, family members or friends, or vice versa; and all the resulting ripple effects -- which can carry equally destructive consequences resulting from friction, social stigma, bias, and even discrimination.

    For example, the author's statement -- "The government, banks and debt collectors wants their money, as they should. Yet, if you have bad credit, it's a lot harder to find a job making it impossible to get out of debt, let alone be a productive citizen. " -- which correctly postulates that a vicious circle can be created when your credit is damaged, regardless of cause.

    The result is a financial virus that can burn through a person's life like wildfire in a drought. It feeds on and devours all available fuel -- in this circumstance, a person's financial assets -- until there is nothing left to consume.

    The current root cause of financial illness for millions of people was not caused by dereliction or irresponsible behavior. It is a problem that I suspect is still growing. The challenge lies in finding a cure through comprehensive solutions.

    I haven't read all the responses to this post but believe it to be a social issue worthy of vigorous deliberation. I'm curious to learn from the author, if he has gained any valuable insight or utility from responses received...?
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    Feb 28 2013: To answer you question I would say no. I understand the reason's for doing so (it may reveal that your a responsible or irresponsible person) but not all bad credit can be attributed to one's actions. Sometimes circumstances happen that are out of the control of the individual. Perhaps they got laid off and is unable to pay their bills..

    Perhaps it play's a factor in the decision making but they should also try to understand your situation and give you the chance to prove yourself to them....Of course this is all in the ideal sense.
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    Feb 28 2013: Actually, I believe that because of your bad credit history they have to hire you and keep you, nothing else!

    I imagine myself as a employer. I have a CV of a really qualified person for position that I have vacant. With big experience. With recommendation letters. And with bad credit history. I will hire him with no doubts because he is not only qualified and experienced, but also he will work hard and value his job because he has to pay his depts!
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      Mar 1 2013: Exactly how I would feel if I was hired.
  • Feb 26 2013: Credit rating was created ina very similar way as halliburton..it seems to be the right cool financially nice thing to do but in the end people will be hurt since the credit report is not a proven fact of trustwothiness, capacity or even morality of an individual, the reality is that credit is a way of pushing away and discerning what a financial mathematical curve decides it is correct based on a bunch of assumptions, should an employer check and base a decision to hire someone based on this FICO (fallacious) score?, the reality is that it has not been proven that a person with bad credit will perform poorly at a job, actually most of the credit problems a person may face in their life is not lack of financial or moral lackness but external factors that are beyond his/her control, you can name a few: get a ticket and you surely will pay that ticket before the creidt card, get sick and you will buy the medicines before paying that christmas gift, get in a car accident, lose your wallet, gosh hundreds of happenings and collectors will be on top of your head making your life miserable and unless you are sadomasochist I dont think anyone wants to be chaed around and risk the paycheck for that, I know of several hundreds of thousands of people that lost their credit due to the last recession, are they less capable of performing their jobs because of that? I dont think so and whoever employee thinks that is living inside a fallacy bubble where the reaility doesnt enter regardless of any argument to the contrary, applicants that are requested to submit a credit report should ask for the financial reports of the companies that want to hire them (lets see if they like that).
  • Feb 19 2013: Perhaps it's time for the person who is looking for work to become a little more careful about 'who' they should be working for. There are many employers with a poor credit history and some who have a criminal background. Perhaps some employers should be required to disclose 'their' history.
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    . . 100+

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    Feb 16 2013: Excellent Question Mykle,

    Our plan, collectively as a people, is to heal the economy. And we need a whole new perspective and a completely new approach. The era of consumerism is over and the results of that way of thinking are clear in all aspects of life: Good they are not. That mentality (the more is better mentality) guided people into debt, cultivated greed, diminished humanity, damaged lives and the economy at the same time, delivered us to the wrong destination. We know which way not to go. Wise companies will figure this out soon. They will know not to miss out on the opportunity to have a great new employee (such as you) on their team because he / she was hit by the same financial crisis and recession that hit the whole nation.
    The great news: we are so fortunate to live at this historic time of new starts.
  • Feb 11 2013: I would have to say that employers should hire employees by their work ethic, and sources from previous jobs, and work sources. Good employees who work hard may have bad credit but it could be if their identity was stolen and is still trying to fix it.
  • Feb 8 2013: You've been in bad credit? You've had low marks at school? You've been fired in the past? "It's your fault." is the thought that strikes the mind of any person, since in general it is known that it can be done better.

    Why should prejudices of bad credit (that you're unable to properly manage a situation, to assess risks/expenses that are needed from those that are excess, to understand a bad choices for unfavourable circumstances in time, etc.) be wrong at all? Any reason that may show you as a "looser" even if through preconceptions, has to be demonstrated to be biased or wrong.

    If you feel uncomfortable and you know the other will check it, step in the topic first. And explain how you learned to do better in the "recent" past. Show that your satisfaction with life and capabilities have improved and not diminished, maintain a positive mindset when describing it.

    Certainly, bad credit as bad marks (or good ones) means nothing, but if you don't give people the big picture, if you don't let them know you and your skills, the only information they will have on you is the one on the peace of sheet.. ..and I challenge you to state that it is a positive curriculum aspect to have bad credit. Probably it's "not bad" at most.
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      Feb 8 2013: Wow, someone feels bothered! I didn't post the debate to describe my situation exclusively, but a wider spectrum of a lot of people who are in this situation. It's a TED conversation, not therapy.
      • Feb 16 2013: I don't think Robert was bothered, but just saying that instead of you allowing the company that you are applying to just assuming that you are a "loser" because of your bad credit, but to go ahead and tell them your situation before they pull your credit history. Let them know what your circumstances WERE and what they are now so they have the big picture and not just assume the worst.

        I, too, have bad credit and am currently in college working on my bachelor's degree and am worried about the same thing when I go for a job. Others have given me the same advice that Robert is giving you (in maybe a different way). Be proactive and let employers know you are a responsible person that can do the job they are hiring you to do and ask them not to judge you by your credit report. In all likelihood, the person doing to hiring has falled on hard times themselves.

        Good luck, Mykle!
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    Feb 8 2013: Mykle, for what it is worth this is my opinion. I was the owner/operator of several smaller companies (around 250 people each) and in this economy employers can be much pickier about who they hire. Think about taking a job (not your ideal job) that will allow you to build some credit. Not only the financial kind but also credit in the work industry that will show people you have changed and corrected the past. Just a thought. Hope it works for you.
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    Feb 7 2013: I would think a bad credit history is a black mark on your character.
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      Feb 7 2013: This is a immensely generalized way of thinking...again, it's not what you think of a person due to their credit, it's whether they are a good potential employee or not. Bad credit does not automatically black-mark a person's character, you don't even know the circumstances (*not reasons) they got in debt in the first place.
      • Feb 8 2013: In the interview you should broach the subject before they find out. Then tell them the circumstances if it isn't due to any personal deficiencies.
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        Feb 8 2013: Well, Mykle, I've never been in a position to hire anyone, I've always been an employee. From what I know, in most cases people got into debt for "unhealthy" reasons. However, I love your point, that one still might inquire about the circumstances under which one gets into debt. But also from what I know, if you find yourself unable to pay your debts and it's through no fault of your own, there are mechanisms to deal with that where you end up with a clean record. So if someone has a bad credit history, I'd be pretty suspicious. Of course when you hire someone you weigh a million factors.
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    Feb 6 2013: Mykle,

    To be honest I think I would agree more with laws of this nature if we, as employers, were given more leeway to try employees for 30,60, 90 days etc without penalty. However, in our State (Washington) and elsewhere in the U.S. If we hire someone even for a day and let them go, that individual can file for unemployment against our company. Unless we can prove they lied, broke the law, or were purposely attempting to hurt the company or its employees then we get hit with the unemployment penalties. It is such a headache that most employers roll their eyes, bite their tongues and move on.

    It is sad to see people take advantage of the system this way but it makes us have to be much more careful in hiring.
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      Feb 6 2013: ¨I think I would agree more with laws of this nature if we, as employers, were given more leeway to try employees for 30,60, 90 days etc without penalty.¨

      I think people in my position would be more than ok with this.
    • Feb 6 2013: I think your idea of hiring someone for a trial period is a great idea. In the USA, this might be a good time, due to our current high unemployment, to enact this reform into law.
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    Feb 6 2013: .
    During a certain period of time in my city a few years back there was a severe limit in administration staff.
    It started getting to the point where office companies were vastly understaffed and despite there being dozens of agencies and advertisements for the postions, no one was getting hired.

    The reason? Because the employment model was so strict, inflexible and illogical, that it was near impossible to get hired.
    -You were expected to have 2 years past experience in an office, so no new people in the workforce could join.
    -You unknowingly had to have your c.v and appearence to look in a certain way, so most would fail instantly.
    -You had to have a good credit rating, specific qualifications and a live within a certain distance of the company.

    Eventually the whole thing blew up and the agencies and offices got rid of almost all of the requirements over time because its just plain stupid making all such restrictions to get the 'right staff', when the job merely entails tedious mediocre work.
    Most companies aren't billion dollar global corporations or the height of industry, most are just tiny average companies with little effect to their surroundings and with average pay, so the god complex of expecting flawless staff bites them in the backside eventually for obvious reasons.

    If you're going to be a petty as firing someone because they had money issues a few years back, changed their hairstyle or moved a few streets away then feel free to do so, but I sincerely hope your company suffers financial losses as a result, which it usually does, thankfully.
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      Feb 6 2013: Thanks for your input Xavier
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    Feb 6 2013: I think at the crux is demand and supply. It was news to know that call centers are employing prison labor. So if some one wants to do it, it can be done. If a system is put in place and an undertaking given that part of the earning will be reimbursed to the Creditor directly by the employer I think that should work. Just thinking.
    Criminality is different, however, in case of running up debt, the reasons may be on account of wrong decision taken in the past etc:
    So it all depends upon the employer, but if some statutory Govt: Agency is formed to access and advice on case to case basis with proper safeguards in place, I think it would serve the interest of both the job seeker and the creditor.
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      Feb 6 2013: ¨If a system is put in place and an undertaking given that part of the earning will be reimbursed to the Creditor directly by the employer I think that should work.¨

      Exactly, just as many of us will be okay if part of our wages are garnished.

      So it all depends upon the employer, but if some statutory Govt: Agency is formed to access and advice on case to case basis with proper safeguards in place, I think it would serve the interest of both the job seeker and the creditor.

      You said it Asgar!!!

      Thanks for your input.
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        Feb 7 2013: Thanks Mykle for the appreciation. I would advocate that in cases of bad debt recovery, the interest component should be done away with. I hail from Dawoodi Bohra community and the Qardan Hasana concept ( that is good interest free loans) has been proving very beneficial.
        http://www.hikmaah.com/showartcl.asp?article=29
        If the creditor if assured of regular payment of the Bad Debt agrees to forgo the interest component, it will make things very easy. I know it is a very difficult idea to accept in the present world, where the economy is interest driven. Just sharing the silver lining though.
        In my small little world, I have helped a few to take control of their lives my applying the concept of Qardan Hasanah ( interest free loan) Hope in near future this concept becomes a driving force for all round development of different strata of the society.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Feb 6 2013: I understand why many jobs require credit checks. For some jobs, you don't qualify for a bond, which is the employer's protection. In retail, the temptation to steal might be too great - and the employer has no way of knowing exactly who you are. In call centers, it depends on the industry and the access that an employee has to information.

    Seeing as the Bank of America uses prison-labor for its call centers, one would think that there are some call centers and customer service jobs that don't require good credit. But at a time when there are MANY looking for a FEW jobs, it's just one more way to clear through the piles of applications.

    The good thing is that time heals all wounds - even wounds to your credit rating. But that's not what you want to hear right now. What you NEED to hear is that it is not government's job to protect you (with bad credit) from those with good credit. The reverse is true, regardless of how you got into your mess. It's not discrimination. When someone complains about what you are complaining about, it can come across as you thinking that the world owes you something - which is NOT what ANY employer EVER wants to hear.

    In don't know your situation, but bankruptcy allows you to get through the process more quickly in some cases. YOu may have to rethink your job path until the mess is cleared up.
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      Feb 6 2013: Thank you for your reply. However I do not think the world owes me anything. Most of the people that are in my situation are not looking for the government to fix our ¨mess¨ as you put it. I would think just helping by the way of making it illegal to discriminate against hiring individuals with bad credit would be a place to start. It's helping us to helping ourselves in our situation, we are not asking for a magical solution to fix our ¨mess¨.

      I'm my description I was very clear in explaining that I think the government, banks and debt collectors are in their complete right getting back their money. We just need a job to do so, and with this discrimination it's just a stupid vicious circle. Also, not everyone in this situation can afford a bankruptcy and certainly applying for a bankruptcy will not guarantee you will get it. If it were so simple, this wouldn't be an issue. At the end, having a bad credit and getting discriminated for a job due to this, will create more government dependency (which you assume it's what we want) and will add to the massive deficit of the country.
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        Gail . 50+

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        Feb 6 2013: I do not assume as you suggest. I believe that money itself is the greatest problem that our global culture faces. I believe that money is the cause of almost ALL of our problems. I also believe that because our fiscal paradigm is unsustainable, it will all come crashing down - probably in my lifetime. Then equality can again reign and the word "job" will take on different meaning.

        I wasn't trying to tell you how I felt about your situation. I was telling you how many employers MAY look at your situation, and how the word "discrimination" contains undercurrents of thought that you do not intend to convey.
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          Feb 6 2013: Thanks TED Lover, I responded somewhat defensive. It's just an issue I'm passionate about. Thank you for responding from a different point of view.
  • Feb 6 2013: it's a great question and i don't think there's an easy answer. if it were me i'd probably take the information as a sign that this person *may* have trouble with planning for the future, but i'm not so stupid as to think that's the only possibility so if everything else for that candidate looked good i'm give them a try. i doubt that most bosses feel that way though, having experienced enough of them myself it seems too many expect nothing but dream employees (even when they're not offering anything like a dream salary!). perhaps there's nothing to be done but banning credit checks in unrelated industries?
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    Feb 6 2013: Mykle, I can see your dilemma .. and the point in corporations wanting that input. As you stated there are certain jobs where this is a backbreaker ... you left out security risks as this could become a leverage point. However, In other jobs I think it should be a point of discussion ... If you went bankrupt while starting your own firm is certainly different than being a alcholic and gamboler who drank and gamboled away the family fortune. Owing for college loans is another exception as is medical bills.

    So I agree there are certain jobs that this is and should be a serious concern and others that it should be of lessor concern .. especially under the right circumstances.

    I disagree that the federal or state government should dictate the hiring or firing terms of any institution outside of the said government.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Mar 6 2013: they should listen to the statistics of how those people react and i believe that's what they do
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    Mar 4 2013: No
  • Mar 3 2013: Lol,it is up to the employers.Being an employee I think working hard for the company It is what I can do.