Better Yet 4-1-2005

Credit History 101

Bad credit can make it difficult to get a car loan or even a job, says the Alexandria, Va.-based Society of Human Resource Management. In a recent poll, 35 percent of companies surveyed said they pulled credit reports of potential employees, up 19 percent from 1996. How to cope?

Get a copy. Equifax (, Experian ( and TransUnion ( are the three major credit bureaus. Costs for a copy of your report vary, but by law applicants cannot be charged more than $9.

They must ask. Companies need your permission to run a credit check. But once you say yes, they can run additional checks at any time.

Be proactive. Savings, checking and brokerage accounts are not part of your credit history. Neither are medical payment records. To mitigate any negatives on your report, offer backup records for, say, doctor’s visits that ate up your funds.

Say no. If the position does not involve handling money, say your credit is not relevant and politely refuse to give permission to check your records.