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Author Topic: Job Interview Credit Checks
Irami Osei-Frimpong
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I was chatting with my mom, a nurse, and she mentioned that some hospitals do credit checks before hiring and will baldly not hire a prospective RN who scores below a certain number.

I'm not surprised this is legal, but is anybody else bothered by the morality of this practice? It seems to me, if you are an RN, certified, and don't have a history of abusing job related privileges, ones credit score should not be admitted as a relevant criterion. The Human Resources argument for using credit scores is that it shows whether the applicant can be trusted. The Human Resources argument is not without merit, I think, but I still find the process invasive.

Regardless of your personal credit, what do you all think of idea of refusing to higher an otherwise qualified applicant for reasons of bad credit?

[ June 05, 2007, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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ludosti
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I think in some cases it is warranted. For example, my husband works for a mortgage/financial company (though in tech support). To be hired on as a permanent employee, he had to pass a background check (including a credit check). I can understand that working in the financial industry, with possible access to people's sensitive information, you would not want to hire people with questionable credit histories (I'm thinking fraud). Why they would do credit checks on an RN is beyond me though.
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ketchupqueen
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It's legal in some states but not all last I heard, at least not for all professions. (As in, a special exception is granted in some states that do not allow it generally allow it for, say, CPAs.)
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Artemisia Tridentata
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The human mind cannot abide a vacuum. A credit check is quantifiable. So, it can be an "Objective" criteria for hire. I have not found them to be predective. I have also not found reference checks or personal interviews to be predective. But, try to explain to a CEO why they are a waste of resources. A credit check is at least as useful as an honest flip of a new two-sided coin.
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MightyCow
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Nurses have access to vast stores of drugs which sell for a lot on the street. I would imagine the credit check is a preventative measure, such that someone in a very difficult financial situation would be more likely to succumb to temptation to break the law.
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Artemisia Tridentata
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That seems reasonable. However, my experience (27 years) is that persons with troubled credit are no more (or less) likely to act dishonestly than similarly situated persons with no bad credit reference.
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Architraz Warden
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
Nurses have access to vast stores of drugs which sell for a lot on the street. I would imagine the credit check is a preventative measure, such that someone in a very difficult financial situation would be more likely to succumb to temptation to break the law.

Thank you MightyCow for having a cynical view of humanity equal to my own. I'll second this reason as a possibility for the background credit check being required by some hospitals. My guess is that there's sufficient evidence (circumstantial evidence more than likely) to hint at some relation between poor credit scores and perceived "victimless" crimes such as stealing stockpiled medication from a hospital.
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Artemisia Tridentata
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If I find a good predictor, I will patent it, retire, and spend my time hobnobing with the folks from people magazine.
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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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Even if it is legal and history shows it as an accurate predictor, there is something profoundly disturbing about pigeon-holing people according to their credit score. Maybe it's because there are so many confounding variables that could go into ones credit score that are a product of circumstance rather than moral worth.
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Icarus
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I agree entirely, Irami.
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Kwea
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(((black hole opens)))
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striplingrz
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Irami is on the right track. As one who has much experience with the "credit" industry, it is beyond me why someone would use it as a job qualifier. There are absolutely too many variables that go into a credit score to be any indication of what a person is or what kind of employee they could be. Credit scores are so varied, many industries (and companies) create their own matrix's to determine what credit scores to use.

And honestly, in today's world of credit and loans for anything/everything, your credit score is almost silly. For any company to equate your credit score with an indication of trustworthy-ness on a line with say, whether you've committed a felony, is foolish IMHO of course. Simple fact is, many many people of good moral content fall prey to circumstances that can quickly ruin their credit score. Life's not always fair. And someone to not extend employment to someone with bad credit is doing themselves a big disservice.

Ok, I'll step down off this soapbox now.

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advice for robots
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HR departments can be the most capricious in the company.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
Nurses have access to vast stores of drugs which sell for a lot on the street. I would imagine the credit check is a preventative measure, such that someone in a very difficult financial situation would be more likely to succumb to temptation to break the law.

That was my guess as well.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
there is something profoundly disturbing about pigeon-holing people according to their credit score.
Why do you feel that way? I don't know much about credit scores, but isn't there really only one way to get a bad credit score -- making financial commitments and then breaking them? Out of all the things you could pigeon-hole people about, that certainly seems better than most.

quote:
There are absolutely too many variables that go into a credit score to be any indication of what a person is or what kind of employee they could be.
Are there many variables that can't be boiled down to whether or not the person kept the financial commitments they entered into?

quote:
And honestly, in today's world of credit and loans for anything/everything, your credit score is almost silly.
I fail to see why one follows the other.
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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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quote:
I don't know much about credit scores, but isn't there really only one way to get a bad credit score -- making financial commitments and then breaking them? Out of all the things you could pigeon-hole people about, that certainly seems better than most.
That's true. The problem isn't so much that everyone with bad credit is irresponsible, as much as people with good credit can achieve good credit with the help of friends and family. In that way, credit reports are biased towards people with family money and influence.

quote:
HR departments can be the most capricious in the company.
It's a strange specialty. I've been underwhelmed HR managers. Maybe it's because I have a degree in philosophy, and that confuses them, but I think they have a hard time understanding that a liberal arts education does not preclude me from being capable in excel or photoshop or being able to read a Statement of Cash Flows. I mean, with 27 years experience, Artemisia Tridentata is ready to latch on to these numbers for no other reason than they are there. A handful of conversations with these HR Professionals, the ones who decide who gets interviewed and who goes into the slush pile, makes me wonder if having Human Resources people do anything more than file paperwork is a good idea.

[ June 05, 2007, 09:50 AM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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advice for robots
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HR departments have access to an astonishing amount of sensitive information about employees at all levels--and, depending on the company, quite a bit of leeway to use that information as they see fit. It's scary when HR gets a little too power-hungry.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I don't know much about credit scores, but isn't there really only one way to get a bad credit score -- making financial commitments and then breaking them?

Not really. The following people (among others) would all have lousy credit scores: someone with no credit history (because they always pay cash); the spouse or divorcee of someone with bad credit; someone carrying large balances on credit cards, even if they are making all payments on time; someone with lots of credit cards, even if the balances are low; someone who has a significant incorrect or disputed report on their credit history (this is all too common, and not so simple to clear up); someone who is or has suffered from identity fraud (which on average takes 8-10 years to fully clear up, and is all too often viewed by both credit companies and the cops as the victim's problem). And don't even get me started on what a bankruptcy -- and the most common reason for non-corporate bankruptcy is unexpected medical expenses -- does to your credit score.

Just as I object to SAT scores being used as a measure of intelligence, rather than what they are meant for: a tool for college admissions decisions, I object to credit scores being used as a measure of trustworthiness, rather than what they are meant for: a measure of credit riskiness.


quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
Out of all the things you could pigeon-hole people about, that certainly seems better than most.

Talk about damning with faint praise.
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Scott R
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In order to hold a security clearance with the federal government, you have to have a good credit score as well.

I don't have any objections to the practice.

quote:
The problem is so much that everyone with bad credit is irresponsible, as much as people with good credit can achieve good credit with the help of friends and family. In that way, credit reports are biased towards people with family money and influence.
:shrug:

Life is biased towards people with family money and influence. Have you noticed?

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Samprimary
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What a great way to further dork the lowest quintile.

Plenty of people have bad credit scores because they are scraping by on uncomfortably low amounts of cash and sometimes when you're a single mother or something you're going to occasionally overdraw or bounce some payout, be late in mortgage payments, be late on credit card payments.

Using the credit score in that way just helps screw people who have to dig themselves out of a hole a little bit more! Whereas people with family connections and those who start in more privileged socioeconomic demographics will often have credit scores which are artificially well-maintained. Like mine.

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Scott R
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I know RNs and CNs and LPNs don't get paid much-- but are they really in the 'lowest quintile?'

More importantly I'm not actually sure what a quintile is... The usage doesn't match the definition I found...

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katharina
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quote:
I don't know much about credit scores, but isn't there really only one way to get a bad credit score -- making financial commitments and then breaking them?
Nope.

My credit score isn't as high as it could be because of one thing, and it is NOT because I made financial commitments I didn't keep.

It's because I didn't realize that getting the store credit cards actually lowered your credit score. I had just graduated, I needed work clothes, and I thought it made sense to get 15% off of what were some serious purchases to change my wardrobe from casual college student to professional. Moneywise it did - I paid off every card with cash on hand - but it also means I have almost two dozen credit cards, most of which have no purchase or payment history at ALL beyond the first purchase and most of which have been closed for a few years. It doesn't matter - they lower my score, and that has absolutely nothing to do with any irresponsibility on my part. I suppose it means I have the potential to go crazy, but I HAVEN'T. That doesn't matter. Credit scores suck.

Another thing that lowers your credit score is actually never carrying a balance. If you pay off your card every month, your score will be lower than if you keep a rotating balance on your card (having a mortgage does the same thing). That's because the score is to indicate a good customer for credit companies - it isn't meant to a measure of and does not measure financial wisdom.

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fugu13
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It depends on location, but nurses certainly don't have to be in the lowest quintile. RNs with a few years experience in Saint Louis could easily break $60k (and often higher) when I was last there; the demand is extremely high due to the large healthcare industry (there are billboards everywhere advertising high salaries for nurses).
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Artemisia Tridentata
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It looks like I went home too early yesterday. No, I haven't latched on to credit reports. I don't use them. Like I say there is no correlation. However, I work on a Defense instillation and a lot of the work requires a security clearence provided by my favorite Uncle. The government does use credit history as a determinator. They have a big list of "adverse information" items most (if not all) of which are intuititive but have no research to justify them. I do use interviews and job references because Upper Management is comfortable with them. I do not find them to be predictive eather. As a matter of fact I can count the negative references I have ever recieved on my hand. They are virtuely all positive or neutral. (One exception was a young man who had only worked for his Mother in a family owned business. His Mom said "Good luck in getting that SOB to work, I never could.")
I would rather use High School grade point average; nature of first employment and age at first employment; and response during the onboarding process. All of these criteria would be, and have been subject to challange by the Feds. Taking the HR prespective (which I do) every employment decision you make is subject to review by the courts and a choris of Federal Agents. When you use critiria that is subjective it will be challanged. When you use real stuff, numbers like a credit rating, which does not use age, race or sex in its development, whether it really works or not, it will not be challanged. One example: I do use a typing speed/accuracy test. I use it to measure good clerical skills. It does not measure good clerical skills. I don't know any way to measure them. But, generally persons with good clerical skills have good keyboard skills, and persons who can type above an arbitrary speed are generally more likely to have good keyboard skills. If I did not use a typing test, selections would have to be made on some subjective criteria. All subjective criteria is subject to abuse and to challange. So, I give a test that is a poor predictor for the skills that I really want.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Another thing that lowers your credit score is actually never carrying a balance.
quote:
The following people (among others) would all have lousy credit scores:
...
someone with lots of credit cards, even if the balances are low;

Are you guys sure about these two items? We have several credit cards, and have always paid the full balance every month, and it doesn't seem to have hurt our credit score at all.
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katharina
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You have a mortgage, right? You do carry a balance.
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andi330
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Another thing that lowers your credit score is actually never carrying a balance.
quote:
The following people (among others) would all have lousy credit scores:
...
someone with lots of credit cards, even if the balances are low;

Are you guys sure about these two items? We have several credit cards, and have always paid the full balance every month, and it doesn't seem to have hurt our credit score at all.

With the large number of credit cards, this depends on various information inluding (but not limited to): the number of credit cards, the credit limit on all of the cards, and the balances that you carry. Credit scores are lower for people who have say 10 credit cards each with limits of say $10,000 than they are for someone who had say 3 cards with limits of $2,000 each, even if you carry little or no balance on the 10 credit cards. The reason is speculation about why you would need so much credit. If you have that much credit available to you at a moment's notice, then you are a higher risk, because you could go out and spend all that money at once.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
You have a mortgage, right? You do carry a balance.

Ah. Yes. But not on my credit cards. I see now.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
I know RNs and CNs and LPNs don't get paid much-- but are they really in the 'lowest quintile?'

More importantly I'm not actually sure what a quintile is... The usage doesn't match the definition I found...

If a quantile is in quintile
and the quintile is your quantile
Of the quintessential query
of an economic quorum,
Does a quantile have a quota
of queer, quixotic quandary?

I don't even know if that makes sense yet but I wrote it so there we go.

The 'lowest quintile' as I reference it is the lowest 20% of wage earners. Poor people, pretty much. The bottom fifth has the most problematic finances.

RNs and CNs and LPNs don't universally make a good case for lowest quintile but what I'm talking about here is how this policy is another entry burden for people who are trying to get out of their previous impoverishment.

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Nighthawk
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Coming from me, a person with horribly bad credit, employers look at the credit rating of someone as a risk factor: if you're credit is bad, you will be more easily swayed by the prospect of more money, regardless of whether the job itself is better or not. Some employers would rather have people dedicated to the job rather than dedicated to the income.

I'm pretty sure my bad credit's the reason I haven't been called back for a few job interviews. Well... that's what I tell myself anyway. Helps me sleep at night.

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Icarus
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When I was starting out I had erroneous reports on my credit history. They were debts incurred by a relative who happened to have the same name, but a different birthdate and a different social security number. According to my credit history at the time, I had a Burdine's credit card when I was nine years old, an American Express when I was eleven, and when I was thirteen I defaulted on both. (Teenagers! [Roll Eyes] ) When I found out about this, I appealed those entries on both Equifax and TRW. Equifax's method of evaluating my claim was to ask Burdine's if there wasn't perhaps some mistake. Burdines said nope, there wasn't, and I did indeed owe them several thousand dollars. Case closed, appeal rejected. TRW did take the items off of my credit report. A year later I pulled my TRW credit report again, and they were back on it. The only credit I could ever get was people who actually looked at the entries, and not just the numbers, and disregarded the ones that were nonsensical.

For the last few years, we have been having issues with some medical expenses. They were for my wife, and I paid the copayments in the hospital, but they claim never to have been paid. These are from years ago, and I don't have an easy way to document that I paid them, except that I remember doing so.

I disagree that the only way to hurt your credit score is by making commitments and not living up to them. I also do not agree that financial need is any indicator of ethics or morality, which is what this amounts to claiming. If someone wants to know if I am a trustworthy employee, they should look at my employment history and my criminal record.

And people wonder why I cheer at the end of Fight Club, every time.

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Belle
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I have had people on my credit report who were not me - they were relatives with the same last name and it too a long time to get it cleared up.

We also do not own credit cards. And that hurts our credit score as well. I have heard, more than once from financial people that we should get a card and carry a small balance on it. I don't want to, because in the past we've had problems with credit card balances and I know I would be tempted too much. So I remove the temptation by not having a credit card.

So, my credit score is not high because I make the personal decision not to have any consumer debt. That's ridiculous.

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Nighthawk
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quote:
...an American Express when I was eleven...
According to my credit report, I did $7,000 worth of business travel on American Express when I was ten. I also apparently owned a Volkswagen when I was six. Took me years to clear that up, even with my father telling them "they're mine, not his!"
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rivka
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mph, "lots" of credit cards generally means >10. However, that includes store cards, gas cards, etc.
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katharina
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That kills me - I didn't know it lowered your credit score. The other stuff makes sense - don't be late, don't default - but that's not defaulting or being late on ANYTHING.
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rivka
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Once the accounts have been closed for a few years, they shouldn't affect your score any more, I think.
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katharina
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It takes five years for them to dissapear. >_< At least they do go away eventually.
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ketchupqueen
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It takes 5 to 10 years for them not to affect your score (depending on the agency.)
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Icarus
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And how sneaky the debtor is (in the case of erroneous information.) It's like seven years from the last transaction. However, calling them to talk about a charge can be construed as a transaction, and start the clock again, regardless of when the debt was incurred.
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maui babe
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The last time I checked my credit report, it included my ex-husband's bankruptcy (declared after his remarriage) and several of his credit cards - oh, and his mortgage as well. I was trying to rent an apartment, and fortunately my landlord accepted my word that, no, I really don't have a >$1000 mortgage payment in Idaho that I'm responsible for. It's one reason that I'm uneasy about the prospect of relocating when my daughter goes away to college next fall.

Credit reporting is a joke, and as several others have said, the onus is on you to prove they're wrong, not on them to keep accurate records. [Frown]

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striplingrz
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mph, plenty of responses since I last posted, and most of them included what my responses would be. I'd add another I don't think has been mentioned. The amount and proximity to time your credit is CHECKED affects your credit score too. And I'm not talking about every tom,dick, and harry company out there who can access your file to decide if they are going to offer you something. Those don't affect your score. But say you go to get a new car. You go to dealership A, they run your credit, but you decide you want a Chevy instead of a crappy Ford. Then you go down the street to the Chevy place, they run your credit. But you don't work out a deal. Then you wait a week and go to another Chevy dealer. At the same time, your wife goes to Sears and they talk her into applying for credit to get 10% off this purchase. So she does. Well, within a week you had your credit checked 4 times. This brings down your score.

quote:
And honestly, in today's world of credit and loans for anything/everything, your credit score is almost silly.
------
I fail to see why one follows the other.

My point was simply a social comment on the fact that credit scores and credit offers are much too common in today's world. In some cases thats ok, but in most its just a recipe for disaster. And to judge a person's trustworthiness on their credit score is unfair to everyone involved.
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scholar
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My husband's credit score is better then mine. When he was a teenager, his mom got him a credit card. She pays all the charges on it. (I found it hilarious though when my husband's brother used his card to watch hardcore porn on the internet- though then I found it deceitful when he didn't own up to it and since she trusted her kids, she refused to pay it and the credit card cancelled the charge).
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rjzeller
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I see good and bad with checking credit. The bottom line for a financial or government position is that a person with bad credit, whether just or unjust, could be a target for bribery or fraud.

However, it is definitely NOT a fair measure of a person's trustworthiness.

Credit scoring is one of the most cryptic and poorly understood entities in the whole of creation. Sometims paying off a debt can help your score, but sometimes it can harm it. Sometimes it's better to file bankruptcy than to try an honor all your debts. The scoring models are simply absurd.

Take two people with perfect history of making payments on time, both have never missed a payment. Even here, you can see wildly different scores.

Major factors are payment history, yes. But so are the percentage of available balances utilized on tradelines (credit cards, store cards, lines of credit, etc). Age of credit accounts is also critical (in fact, a CC that's twenty years old but recently charged off may acutally HELP your score more than it's hurting your score due to the age of the account). Mixture of credit (revolving accounts and fixed term accounts) is important. Do you have any judgments or collections (from medical bills, a bounced check, ANYTHING that someone wants to collect money from you for)?

Often, one change on your report can throw you into a new "scoring model", where you're now being compared against a different group of persons entirely. This can raise or (usually) lower your score.

And then there's differences in how some companies report your credit. Cards like Capital One don't report a credit limit, so you basically always look like you're utilizing 100% of your credit, very bad for your score.

Information for most closed accounts falls off within 7 years. For judgments and liens it could be much longer. Open accounts and accounts in good standing can stay on longer (at least as long as the account is open, even if that's twenty years).

And I can tell you from personal experience, it doesn't take much for a credit grantor to sabatoge your credit (say, if a local mortgage company has you on an ARM and doesn't want you to refi out of it).

So basically, you cannot be too sure about WHAT it is a credit score is telling you. I do think it's unfair that some people have to rely on it for a job, especially since that was never the purpose of the score, but I also cannot fault a bank or investment firm or government agency for wanting to know if there are potential openings for corruption with an individual.

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katharina
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By that model, EVERY SINGLE federal employee in DC is ripe for corruption because you can't pay for anything other than a studio apartment in DC on what federal jobs pay.
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mr_porteiro_head
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And thus it is confirmed. [Wink]
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katharina
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I'd laugh if it didn't make me want to cry.
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
[QUOTE].

Another thing that lowers your credit score is actually never carrying a balance. If you pay off your card every month, your score will be lower than if you keep a rotating balance on your card (having a mortgage does the same thing). That's because the score is to indicate a good customer for credit companies - it isn't meant to a measure of and does not measure financial wisdom.

I worked for a brief time at a mortgage broker, and a lot pf what we did was helping people clear their credit up, so they could qualify for a home loan.

you are completely right.....paying most but not all of a balance each month gives you a bonus benefit that paying things off completely doesn't. It establishes a credit history.


I had credit problems when I was younger, partially because I had no health insurance, and part because I wasn't very responsible.


I got older, and perhaps a bit wiser, and began fixing my credit about 6 years ago. I had two cards, and payed them off evey single month for a year....then I found out that if you don't carry a balance it doesn't help your credit score at all. It isn't that payng them off does any harm...it doesn't....but maintaining at least a small balance provided more of a meansurable credit hsitory, and by their rules improves your score.


Also, usually it isn't the number of cards you have that hurts you....although for some people it is, depending on the amount of cards. What hurts the most is using them past the half way point of the avalible balance....and even worse, past the 3/4th point. Each time you go to half way you get a hit against your credit score....adn at 3/4ths you get a DOUBLE hit, on top of the single hit you got at 1/2.


Sounds fair...but consider this....


It doesn't take into consideration the maximum balance. If I have a starter card with a limit of $200, I get a hit at $100, and a double hit at $150. If Joe has a limit of $20,000, his first hit doesn't happen until $10,000.

So if you have a lot of store cards, which usually have a lower limit on them than major credit cards, you can ruin your credit score without ever missing a payment....at least in the short term.


Sucks pretty bad, IMO.

[ June 05, 2007, 08:47 PM: Message edited by: Kwea ]

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Icarus
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That does suck. I haven't carried a balance in a couple of years. I use a single credit card for virtually all of my expenses and I pay it off each month. Its limit is a little less than our net monthly income, so every month I take it all the way up to the limit, and then pay it off entirely. So I'm hearing that not only am I not improving my credit rating by not carrying a balance, I am actually getting hurt because I run it up past the 3/4 point.

*nod*

I'm definitely not honoring the commitments I make, and am likely untrustworthy. I'm amazed they let me teach children. [Roll Eyes]

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steven
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Joe, why don't you call and get a credit line increase?
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mr_porteiro_head
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Lots of people have put forth things besides not fulfilling financial commitments which can lower one's credit score? How far can these questionable items potentially bring one's score down? Can they, by themselves, give a person a bad credit score?
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