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How Far Back Does a Credit Check Go for Employment Purposes?

Updated April 17, 2017

When looking for a job, be aware that some employers will want to look into your personal background -- including your credit history. If you've had credit problems in the past, or simply don't like having companies snoop into your personal life, you may take comfort in knowing the limitations on when companies can perform such checks and how much information they can get.

Your Rights

Federal law mandates that potential employers must obtain your permission before performing a credit or other background check on you. If employers decide to take "adverse action" -- not hire or promote you -- based on a negative credit reports, they must inform you of their decision before taking the action and provide you with a copy of the report.

Credit Report Information

Credit reports provide information about your bank accounts, loans, credit card balances and payment history with utility companies. The report also lists your known aliases, current and previous addresses, current and previous employers and your age. If you're married, the report will contain similar statistics on your spouse. Most of this information only goes back seven years. However, if you've had any bankruptcies, that information will go back 10 years.

Obtaining Your Credit Report

It's a good idea to get a copy of your credit report to verify their accuracy. Three major companies provide these reports -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Every twelve months, each of these companies must provide you with one free report upon request. You can request the report by e-mail, postal mail or phone. The reports from each company may vary so you should get a copy from each one.

Considerations

If you find an error on your credit report, contact the reporting agency immediately, especially if you're in the process of looking for a job. If there is an error, it could take as long as 45 days for the agency to correct the error.

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About the Author

Scott Roberts studied communications at the University of Southern Indiana and has written for local newspapers throughout his adult life. He has created articles for more than 70 international clients. An accomplished artist, he has illustrated and written cartoons for newspapers and GoComics.com. He lives in Southwest Michigan.