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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Looking for a job? What you need to know about your credit report

I'm sure you've heard many a time that you should check your credit report regularly to be sure that it accurately represents your credit history. In fact, you need to check your reports from all three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) as they are likely to be different from one another.

And, you probably know that you should go to to see your free report from each of the three bureaus once a year. Whether you're looking for a job right now or not, consider this your annual nag from me to go check your reports! Look for any mistakes and then act to have mistakes corrected. Your credit report influences the cost of insurance, interest rate on loans, and whether it's difficult to contract for services such as utilities, phone or even renting an apartment.

However, in Illinois as well as a few other states, your credit report and credit score can no longer be used when you apply for a job. The Employee Credit Privacy Act went into effect in January. Under the act, Illinois' employers may not use a person's credit history to determine employment, recruiting, discharge or compensation. According to a press release from Governor Quinn's office, under the new law, employers may access credit checks under limited circumstances, including positions that involve: bonding or security per state or federal law; unsupervised access to more than $2,500; signatory power over businesses assets of more than $100; management and control of the business; access to personal, financial or confidential information, trade secrets, or state or national security information.

If you're applying for jobs, you also need to know that by federal law you have the right to more than one free credit report per credit bureau per year. For example, if you are

  • Denied credit, insurance or a job,
  • Unemployed and plan to look for work within 60 days,
  • Receiving TANF assistance, or
  • Your report is inaccurate due to fraud such as identity theft,

then you can get an additional free credit report. You need to contact the credit bureaus directly for these reports.

It's tough to find a job these days. Knowing our rights in tough times is important. For more information about credit card reports, visit U of I Extension's website Credit Card Smarts.

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Thank you Kathy for another great and pertinent report, as always from your Group. It is directly related to my circumstances as an early stage job searcher. Being fully informed on all possible factors impacting and organizing my self-presentation in the marketplace is an enormous help. The detailed facts on the newest statutes and application to workplace practices is most useful. It helps in keeping the perspective that job hunting is a two way process when the job seeker is informed. It is also helpful to know that not every job application is timely and current. Be careful what one agrees to, with a job application as any other financial matter. Thanks again for yours and everyone's continuing efforts. Keep up the excellent work! Regards, V. Kash
by V. K. on Thursday 9/29/2011

Thank you for your positive feedback! Best of luck with your job search.
by Kathy Sweedler on Thursday 9/29/2011