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Bad Credit Shuts New Yorkers Out of a Job

Amy Traub

"I served in the military for 30 years and received the highest level security clearances," said Brooklyn resident and war veteran Emmett Pinkston.  "Yet I was turned down for a job as a TSA baggage screener, because of a bogus charge on my credit report.  I found myself stuck at a low paying job."

Councilman Brad Lander speaks at a February 2013 rally to ban employment credit checks

On Wednesday, Pinkston joined the crowd amassed on the steps of New York City Hall, calling on the City Council to pass Intro. 857, the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act,  which would bar local employers from using a job applicant's personal credit history as a factor in hiring decisions. The bill would help Pinkston and others land jobs they are otherwise highly qualified for.

Even as a representative of a major credit reporting company has admitted that there is no evidence linking credit reports to job performance or likelihood of criminal activity, nearly half of employers conduct credit checks as part of their hiring process. Poor credit may reflect errors on credit reports, as it did in Emmett Pinkston's case, or factors such as medical debt,  a messy divorce, predatory lending, or simply unemployment.

In a nationally representative survey of low- and middle-income households carrying credit card debt, Demos found that households with members who have been unemployed as long as three years ago still report having worse credit:  41 percent describe their credit as "fair" or "poor" compared to just 24 percent of households on the survey population that have not experienced job loss in the past three years.

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