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Some job applicants disqualified after credit checks

For many people in Oregon, credit card debt is a serious burden. Often, unmanageable credit card debt stems from a major life change like a job loss, a serious medical issue or a divorce. When people no longer have the income they relied on for so long, or acquired unexpected debt due to a medical emergency, credit cards become a last resort. Unfortunately, some employers are now performing credit checks as part of their hiring process.

Credit reports were created initially as a tool for lenders. Lenders could use credit checks to determine whether a loan applicant would be likely to make payments. Now, however, employers are using them to determine whether an applicant is qualified for a position. Some say that a credit score has no place in the hiring process.

Take, for example, the scenario of a person losing his or her job. In the last few years, many people lost their jobs as employers tried to scale back their expenses. After losing a job, however, how do you get by? With no income to put toward everyday necessities, many people resorted to heavy credit card use. Those who were unable to pay off debt, however, likely ended up with a damaged credit score. Now, some of these people are having a hard time returning to work -- not because they aren't qualified, but because employers are performing credit checks.

In an effort to get their residents back in the workplace, some cities and states have created ordinances that ban the use of credit checks in the hiring process. While Oregon is among those, it still allows for credit checks to be performed when a credit history is substantially related to the job -- wording that is still unclear to many.

Ultimately, credit card debt is not always in a person's control. When situations arise that force a person to rely on a credit card, they should not be further punished by being rejected from a job they are otherwise qualified for. Hopefully Oregon lawmakers continue to do what they can to empower people who have been held down by inescapable credit card debt.

Source: New York Daily News, "End credit checks for job seekers," Daniel Carodnick and Amy Traub, April 11, 2013

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