Art, science behind credit checks

When is a credit check appropriate?
By Daniel Fallows
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/21/2011

Question: We’ve never done background checks before but our organization is growing and we’ve made the decision to start them. There is some internal disagreement about whether or not we should bother conducting credit checks as part of the hiring process. Criminal checks and education verification are slam dunks, in our opinion. But when is a credit check appropriate and worthwhile, and how much time and expense does it add to the process?

Answer: The credit check is one of the most misunderstood and perhaps misused pieces of the pre-employment puzzle. It’s misunderstood because a number of companies have used credit checks as part of the process, but the actual application of the data obtained has been lost in the shuffle. It’s misused because a number of companies’ use of credit checks has not kept match with ever-changing privacy laws.

A credit check is a search of a credit bureau for the credit history of a candidate. It typically includes: