Can an Employer Easily Check Your Income History?

This thought occurred to me as I was interviewing for a new position. At the start of negotiations for the salary of the new position the potential employer asked me what I made in 2005 and 2006. I answered truthfully, but I could see how it could be awkward if you were applying for a job with a significantly higher salary. Having the new employer know exactly what you were making seems intrusive.

So the question is that during a standard background check does a potential employer have access to your income records through a credit reporting or other source, or do they only have it if you give it to them?

Thanks in advance to all the HR and credit agency types who might know.

The only common way they get it is through an income verification check from the company itself. Big companies often have forms for this. However, it isn’t universal and the interviewing company often doesn’t have much to go on if the person currently has a job and the current one can’t be contacted. People lie and embellish on this subject all the time often with good results for themselves. Some people justify it by saying that past salary should have no effect on a new position. In reality, companies most often want the information so that they know if they can afford the candidate and so that they won’t make an offer that is too low.

The last poster answered well, but for 100% clarity, 99.9% of the time no credit reporting agency has your income handy.

I do employment verifications. I can tell you that we do often check salary. It depends on the hiring company- some companies we do screenings for like to see the salary history, and others do not care.

Generally, I speak to some one in the HR department and 99% of the time I am asking for salary information I am requested to fax a signed release in order to get that information. In other words you would know that your new employer may be looking into your employment history as well as education history, when you signed the release.

Also, dates of employment and salary information for many large companies are available on-line through subscription services like The Work Number.

I f I was asked to supply such a release, I would decline. If my previous salary is too high, the prospective employer may feel I won’t stay if I am paid less; if my previous salary is too low, they may think I am not worth what the new position pays. I see no self interest in supplying such a release, and would take it as a heads up that this employer is not someone I want to work for. Either you are convinced I am worth what I am asking for, or not; I don’t see that playing games about how low a salary you can get away with is a worthwhile use of time for either of us.

I agree 100%.

See Fear I agree.

I find it funny that there is a taboo about workers sharing their salaries with each other and then management asks you what you make freely. My position is that it should be irrelevant to whether I am qualified for the position being offered. Fortunately it doesn’t matter with my new employer (as of today . . . YAY!), but I realized when they asked me that I didn’t know if I was compelled to answer their question truthfully.

I have only had one company ask for income verification. When I supplied it, they implied that I had lied. They low-balled the offer they made me (despite the fact that I was clear about the dollar amount I needed from the very first moment we discussed salary), I knew that they were just out to find the cheapest candidate. I had many people ask me about that company since I interviewed. I warned every candidate away from them.