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Job-Seekers Credit Check Controversy Heads To Congress

MIAMI (CBS4) -- How do you feel about your boss getting a peek at your credit history? If you're looking for work it's very possible you'll be asked to share that information in order to get the job. But there's a move underway across the country to stop that from happening and even Congress is considering the controversy.

Job hunter Lauren Beer has experience and skills. She has advanced degrees from prestigious universities but she doesn't have great credit and she says it's costing her job opportunities.

"It makes me very angry," said Beer. She's finding out the hard way that employers care about your credit. Some even require credit checks as part of the application process, but not everyone agrees with the policy.

A new survey by reveals more than half of Americans, 53-percent are against employers getting a look at your credit when considering you for a job.

"There are millions of people out of work, suffering and depression is on the rise," said Beer. "Why in God's name are we putting another impediment in the way of job seekers?"

The issue is getting national attention. There's a bill in Congress that would prohibit the use of credit checks when it comes to making a hiring decision.

There are exceptions including people applying for a national security position or a job where they'd handle large amounts of money.

Representative Steve Cohen proposed the legislation, saying these credit checks are creating a vicious cycle that's impossible to get out of.

"You don't have a job. You lose your house. You have your medical debt and before you know it your credit rating is gone in no time," said Cohen. "People who want a job are being denied through no fault of their own."

So the real question is whether bad credit equals bad employees. Studies are mixed.

James Ratley with the National Association of Certified Fraud Examiners sees a need for credit checks to protect companies.

"When someone is having financial difficulties themselves they are much more inclined to take money that does not belong to them. Employee credit checks for potential employees are a vital part of the hiring process," Ratley warned.

Bad credit could be caused by a number of things that may not be in your control, from death of a spouse, to identity theft, or even mistakes on your credit report. If that's the case, be prepared to explain it.

"I think people need to know up front that if an employer may look at their credit records. And if there's something in there they're concerned about they may even want to consider raising that during the interview," said Cohen.

Keep in mind the employer cannot see your credit report without your permission. Employers must have authorization from potential employees. However, job seekers who deny that authorization may not make it to the next step.

So what can you do to still get that job?

Credit experts say before you start applying be proactive.

Request your credit reports and fix any errors. If you're not prepared, "It could end up costing you a job," said Adam Levin of

It's important to note the employer would get a different kind of credit report than the one that includes your actual score.

The employment report includes your credit payment history and other credit habits.

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