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How Bad Credit Reports Affect The Job Search

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, plenty of Americans have seen their credit scores tank. But can that really affect your ability to get a job? Yes, because employers increasingly are relying on workers' credit histories in screening applications.

Just ask Oneika O'Keefe. Speaking on AOL Jobs Lunch Time Live, O'Keefe says that she was told during a recent job interview with a retailer that she would have to undergo a credit check because the position required that she "deal with a lot of money."

"When they told me that during the interview, it was really embarrassing," says O'Keefe, who has about $20,000 in college-loan debt. "They already, off-the-bat, assume that you're a thief because you work with a lot of money or that if your credit score is low that you can't handle money."

O'Keefe was joined in Friday's online discussion by Amy Traub, senior policy analyst at Demos, a left-of-center think tank that seeks to create greater economic equality. Traub says that about half of employers look at credit reports (though not scores) when deciding whom to hire -- regardless of the type of position. "We see credit checks for [chief operating officers] and CEOs, but then we also see credit checks for dog walkers, for janitorial staff [and] for scooping frozen yogurt." Even more problematic, one out of five credit reports contain errors, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

What are job seekers' rights? Watch the 2-minute highlight video, or the full 20-minute conversation below, and add a comment at bottom. Also, check out our stories on how to get a job despite a bad credit report.