Background Check - Credit

During a typical pre-employment background check, if there is such a thing as typical, what kind of info about credit is revealed? Just a credit rating, or can they look at such things as purchase history, or cash advance/transfer amounts, etc? Any info would be appreciated.

Get a copy of your latest credit report - what you can see - they can see.

Thanks. Is that all they can see? Also, if it’s not too much trouble, what is on a typical credit report? I’ve had them before, but don’t remember many details.

A typical credit report shows where you work, where you live, and to whom you owe (or owed) money. It will show something like “$2,000 to Bob’s Appliances, paid on time,” but won’t list what item(s) were purchased with that $2,000.

Credit reports include the names, current balances, and available credit for all of your credit lines, as well as a history of delinquincies, collections, bankruptcy, etc. which is what the company is looking for.

I used to be involved in hiring and they would look for things that seemed to indicate that the person had major financial troubles (lots of delinquent debt) and/or wasn’t trustworthy (e.g. repeated bad checks, going to collections repeatedly over years, especially for non-critical things like cable or video rentals).

We tended to take things in context. For one thing, we didn’t consider any medical debt. If you were in debt $100,000 to a hospital, we wouldn’t care, since a lot of people ended up totally screwed financially for life due to something happening when uninsured. No sane person would avoid critical care just because you don’t have the money, the way that you can avoid getting a huge TV from Rent-A-Center. We probably got more than the average company in that situation, as it was a call center – basically, low-tier, high-stress but still office work, so we’d often get people whose careers elsewhere were destroyed by life situations and who just needed a job.

We did grant leeway to some applicants. A recent positive history was important if someone had a lot of previous problems, and there were quite a few applicants who were turned down, but we relented when we found out some sort of extenuating circumstances (e.g. death of a spouse, struggling with elder care, being laid off).

We weren’t looking for stellar credit, either - just signs that a person wasn’t totally irresponsible with money since it often indicated a lack of responsibility towards work. If you don’t mind screwing your credit by passing a bad check at a nail salon, odds are better than most that you probably don’t mind getting fired for being a complete slackoff.

Thanks for all the info. My situation was that I was laid off so for the last few months I’ve been getting cash advances to pay my rent. Might as well give the gory details: I have one credit card on which I owe X and another on which I owe Y. How will this look? My last credit rating was 750.

edit: Other than that, I’ve had no delinquincies, collections, bankruptcies or any other bad thing.

Are the accounts late? If you’re paying on them, but just have high balances, I don’t think they should care. We never looked at that. After all, the company isn’t going to have any idea of your assets; as long as you’re paying as agreed, it shouldn’t matter to them (the way it would matter to a company who’s extending actual credit to you should care about how able you are to take on more debt).

Employers are looking for things like frequent delinquencies, collection activities, liens, bankruptcies, and judgements. If your accounts are in good standing, they probably won’t care about a high balance.

Some employers, FYI, only pull reports to verify your ID well enough to run criminal background checks, as the reports are a good way to figure out where you’ve lived in the past decade.