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Is Your Credit History Preventing You from Getting a Job?

For some, having credentials and health care experience isn't enough to guarantee a job in a physician's office. It may require a good credit history, too.

In 2010, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted a public meeting to explore the use of credit histories as employee selection criteria. During that meeting, Christine V. Walters of the Society of Human Resources Management said, “13 percent of organizations conduct credit checks on all job candidates... (and) another 47 percent... consider credit history... for select jobs.”

"A bad hire can be costly (for physicians)," reports amednews staffer Victoria Elliott.

But what about the cost to the job seeker? In the wake of a recession, a good credit standing is a major feat. Just because you were late paying your mortgage one month doesn't make you a potential thief, and it certainly shouldn't cost you a job.

"There is no documented evidence supporting a correlation between poor credit and being a poor performer on the job, or even being a greater threat to steal from the practice," writes Elliott.

And yet, even in states where it's unlawful to use credit reports to screen job applicants, exceptions—such as jobs involving money handling or access to sensitive information—permit such conduct. "This may mean a medical practice can argue that a billing person or a medical records staffer should be subject to a credit check," Elliott said.

Job seekers do have some recourse. A potential employer cannot obtain access to your credit history without your permission. And if you're turned down because of a poor credit history, federal law requires the company to give you a copy of your credit report—at which time you may be given the opportunity to redeem yourself.

Rather than wait for the ball to drop, however, a better idea is to know your credit history and, if necessary, go into an interview with an ready explanation should the subject come up.

AnnualCreditReport.com is the only authorized source for the free annual credit report that's yours by law, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—every 12 months.

Tags: Practice Management