The Great Recession of 2008 and its Impact on Credit Reporting

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Welcome to the second Blog article in our CRAsh Course on Credit Reporting. In this article, we’ll focus on the lasting impact a changing financial landscape can have on credit reporting legislation.

It’s 2017—nearly a decade since the Great Recession ended—and while things have recovered for many people financially, the lasting effects of the catastrophic financial event continue to be felt by some.

Due to more than 7 million foreclosures and the high rate of unemployment during, and shortly after the recession, a large percentage of the US population has negative information on their credit reports caused directly by the economic downturn.

To ensure those who experienced financial stress during the Great Recession could continue pursuing employment opportunities, important—and popular—regulations were implemented to limit the use of credit reports on pre-employment background screens.

Legislation now defines when and how credit reports can be used for employment decisions

11 states and the District of Colombia have placed regulations on the use of credit screens when hiring. Additionally, while there’s no law CURRENTLY in place, Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights recommends that a credit check is only done when money handling is an essential job function.

In states where no laws are in place, cities have stepped in to limit use of credit reports when making a hiring decision. Philadelphia and New York both have these rules in place.

These laws are fairly common sense. They typically bar employers from analyzing an applicant’s credit history unless the position deals significantly with money. Money handlers, accountants, managers and other financial positions are usually exempt from protection under the law.

Even when hiring in a state with no limits on credit reports, it is recommended that credit is only reviewed for individuals with significant access to finances. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that “An employer must not have a financial requirement if it does not help the employer to accurately identify responsible and reliable employees . . .

While you may argue that knowing your new stock person or receptionist’s money handling abilities gives you a better idea of their potential to be a reliable employee, the candidate and EEOC may argue differently and claim the process is discriminatory. Even if you’re right, battling this in court costs time, money, and stress that’s easily avoided by simply limiting credit screening to personnel with financial responsibilities.

Let’s make sure best practices are in place

To mitigate risk in your employment decisions, add these rules to your screening program:

  1. Credit reports are only conducted on candidates with significant monetary responsibilities
  2. Your screening policy includes detailed information on why credit reports are used
  3. Separate screening policies are in place for money handling and non-money handling positions
  4. Background screens are conducted the same way for all candidates based on their position
  5. Your legal team has reviewed screening policies for compliance with state and federal guidelines

Another way to help ensure compliance to ongoing changes in legislation is to utilize the services of a background screening company—like A-Check Global—with a robust compliance department. As a trusted business partner, we review our clients’ screening policies, ensure services are not being conducted in violation of regulations, track legal changes, and suggest policy updates when new rules are put in place.

For more information about this topic feel free to contact us at connect@acheckglobal.com. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you.

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