Are you looking for a job?  When is the last time you requested your free credit report?  Why you ask?  More employers are looking at applicants’ credit reports when making hiring decisions.  Recently, the number of delinquencies being reported to Equifax, Experian and Trans Union has increased.  No doubt, the number of derogatory accounts (i.e., 30, 60, 90 days past due) can be attributed to the record unemployment rates and decreased earnings. 

Now is the best time to request your free credit report, review it for errors, dispute incorrect credit report information and legally re-build your credit

Employers often perform background checks on applicants.  If your credit report has errors (accounts that do not belong to you or accounts that are being reported as late when you deferred the payments) then you may not get a job offer.  Background checks also include public record information (bankruptcies, tax liens, criminal records) and incorrect public records can give your potential employer a false impression of your character.

Here are 5 tips on how to prepare for your job search while repairing your credit after being unemployed.

  1. Request your free credit report from all three credit bureaus. 

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), if you are unemployed and seeking employment, you are entitled to a free credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion!  Don’t call the credit bureaus and ask for a free report – send them a letter and ask for a free report and tell them you are unemployed and looking for a job.  The credit bureaus must send you a free credit report within 15 days of receiving your request.

Contact us to get the most up-to-date contact information for the credit bureaus credit report request addresses and a free form letter to request your credit reports from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.

2.      Review your credit report for errors. 

Review each section of your credit report for incorrect or incomplete information. 

  • Personal Information Section – look for incorrect name variations, previous addresses and Social Security number variations.
  • Public Records Section – look for incorrect liens, judgments or bankruptcies. 
  • Derogatory Account Section – did you miss a payment or is the account really in collections?  Better yet, do these accounts belong to you?
  • Account Section – look for accounts that do not belong to you and accounts that were previously disputed and removed from your report, but have now magically re-appeared!
  • Inquiry Sections – Did you apply for credit with these companies?  Did they have a legal right to pull your credit report?

Incorrect information in this section could indicate you are a victim of identity theft or the credit bureaus have mixed your file with someone else.

3.      Dispute all incorrect or incomplete information.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumers have a right to dispute incorrect or incomplete information on their credit reports.  Consumers do not have to pay a credit repair company to do something they have a federal right to do!  You should ALWAYS make your dispute in writing by US MAIL to the consumer reporting agency reporting the incorrect information.  When Equifax, Experian or Trans Union receives your dispute, federal law requires them to perform a reasonable investigation within 30-45 days.   

Contact us to get a free sample dispute letter and the most up-to-date address information for the credit bureaus.

4.      Talk to a lawyer who specializes in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

A lawyer who specializes in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) should be familiar with your rights under the FCRA, as well as experienced in litigating against the consumer reporting agencies and the banks and credit card companies who furnish information about you to Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.  Learn more about our lawyers HERE.  Our lawyers are licensed to practice in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee, Texas, New York and Virginia.  We also have referral relationships with consumer lawyers across the US.

5.      Be patient. 

The process typically takes at least 3-4 months, but keep in mind the end goal – applicants with a better credit report get the job!  Still have a question about your credit report or your rights under the FCRA?  Checkout our frequently asked questions page, or contact us 24/7 at 1-800-263-909.

Are you a lawyer and have a client who was denied employment because of a background check?  We have referring lawyers all over the country and can work with you to help your client.  Contact us for more information about our referring lawyer program.