Most Americans Unaware Credit Scores Can Affect Hiring Chances

September 18, 2007 ( - More than half (52%) of Americans mistakenly believe it is illegal for prospective employers to use credit scores as a hiring criteria and another 28% don't know whether it's illegal or not, according to a survey by Visa USA.

The survey of about 1,000 respondents also found that only one in five of Americans know that it is legal for employers to refuse to hire job applicants with low credit scores; however, many employers have made checking a credit score a mandatory part of the job application process, just as drug testing and criminal background checks are now common requirements for jobs in many industries, according to a Visa news release.

“Credit scores have become the de facto ‘GPA’ for all aspects of modern life because they can affect everything from getting a job to being able to buy a house,” said Jason Alderman, director of financial education for Visa USA, in the news release. “A bad credit score can send an otherwise well qualified job applicant straight to the unemployment line.

Forty-two percent of respondents said they have never even looked at their credit score too determine the health of their credit, while 22% check their credit score once a year and 18% check their score two or more times each year.

Adults age 55 and up have checked their score at a far lower rate (43%) than those under 55 years old (62%).Men are less likely (51%) to check their credit score than women (59%).