Credit checks bill awaits governor’s signature

Posted May 28, 2010 at 11:24 a.m.

By Julie Wernau
A bill that would prohibit employers from inquiring about or using a
person’s credit history as a basis for employment or discharge has
passed both legislative chambers in Springfield, and is awaiting the
governor’s signature.

The bill, House Bill 4658, introduced by Rep. Jack D. Franks
(D-Woodstock), creates the Employer Credit Privacy Act, and provides
exemptions for the banking and financial industry and state law
enforcement and investigation units. The bill passed the Senate on May 4, and the House of Representatives concurred on minor changes made to the
bill Thursday.

In April, the Tribune wrote about efforts by Chicago-based TransUnion to gut the bill. The company is one of three major credit bureaus that collect information on the borrowing and bill-paying habits of most Americans. TransUnion defended credit checks as protection for employers against theft and fraud.

Legislators and labor experts contended that credit screening makes it harder for honest people to find work and that a person’s credit history does not indicate whether or not a person will make a good employee or commit fraud.

“Responsible people can fall behind on mortgages, medical bills can pile up and situation can spiral out of control. When someone is truly a victim of the economy, it is not fair for that person to be discriminated against when trying to obtain employment and get back on their feet,” Franks said.

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  1. Harlon Katz May 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Illinois obviously doesn’t need jobs. What better thing to do to “stimulate” the economy here than add another reason not to hire here in IL.

  2. Peter Smith May 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Yes, pass this bill. Make it illegal to perform the checks, with the exceptions listed above. After all, people behind on their bills may need a (better) job to pay off those bills.

  3. Innocent_III May 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    A really bad credit history reflects more than jsut a single instance of a borrower’s failing to deliver what was promised; it reflects a pattern.
    And, since delivering what is promised is surely an important and desirable quality in an employee, it just doesn’t seem unreasonable that employers would want to look at your credit history.
    Sometimes I think that once government’s done regulating the labor markets, employers will be forced to choose by lottery from a pool of applicants who meet the minimum qualifications (as determined by some bureaucrat, of course).

  4. CDM May 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    To all those who oppose, consider this: what happens when banks break the law/make mistakes that destroy your credit?? My mortgage servicer (Citibank) did exactly that and my score went from perfect to 650 overnight. I’m now suing them, but this could impact my employability and it should not- and now it won’t. Good job Il!!

  5. John in Glenview May 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    @ Harlon Katz and Innocent_III ~
    So let’s see, the Obama group is bad because they haven’t created enough jobs, and Quinn, Daley and the unions kill Illinois for new jobs.
    So maybe the people who lost a job for 6 months or a year or two missed a payment or two on a credit card or car. Maybe even lost their house. Since they went from a “real” job with benes to $8.50 an hour at WalMart.
    So who exactly is a “make jobs” movement supporting? Poeple at Chase who want to move up to Goldman Sachs?
    “And, since delivering what is promised is surely an important and desirable quality in an employee, it just doesn’t seem unreasonable that employers would want to look at your” …. smoking history? Obesity? These can lead to illness, lost time and insurance cost increases to the employer.
    Sexual preference? Battle in the lunchroom! Religion? I need someone who can work past sundown, or on Sunday! Age? I don’t want someone who is too old to be creative, or who might be lloking for a better job from day one! Race? Oopps, can’t do that anymore.

  6. JOHN C May 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    A great law and and ideal time to enforce it, the same should be done when buying insurance policies, it is none of their business to look at it.
    The best law in 20 years

  7. xgen69 May 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Gee! As corrupt as Illinois government is I believe they’re onto something with this bill and the US Government should implement this bill Nationally! Good people have been hurt by the economy among other life changing situations and what a persons’ credit history looks like does not define the person! PERIOD!!!!

  8. Jim May 28, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Deadbeats don’t make good employees! If they got behind in they’re payments they should have planned ahead and set up a savings contingency plan to help them meet their obligations as they agreed to do in the first place. It is also a statistical fact that poor credit risks are poor automobile insurance risks. Since when is it a right to get credit or a job. The last time I looked it something that is earned.

  9. Tom May 28, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Jim – the saying goes “better to remain silent and be thought the fool rather than opening one’s mouth and removing all doubt.” Consider all doubt remove – moron.

  10. Cindy May 28, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Don’t ignore the fact that credit scores are not calculated on payment histories alone. They are also based on credit-to debt-ratios, income, and bank account balances. I put myself through college with the help of student loans (straight A’s while working full time, too). But because my student loan debt is so much greater than my income and available credit, my score went from near perfect before college to borderline now that I have a degree. I never miss a payment on anything. But, I can’t get a loan, can’t get a credit card, can’t lease a car, can’t negotiate for lower rates or a better bank account. And there are a lot of folks who’ve been hit hard in the mortgage crisis, have huge medical bills, or have been unemployed who could just not manage to pay all their bills on time every month. Especially in Chicago. I think this law is a long time coming because the credit rating system is unfair and does not accurately predict who is responsible and who is not.

  11. Harlon Katz May 28, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    John in Glenview – no where did I mention Obama – I was referring to what the idiots in Springfield have done to THIS state.

  12. bisco4business May 29, 2010 at 1:49 a.m.

    John in Glenview
    I pray your being sarcastic.

  13. City Resident May 29, 2010 at 1:52 a.m.

    This law is insane!
    Yes, there are people with legitimate reasons for having a lot of debt, or slow payments. But there are also large numbers who have overspent for frivolous or hedonistic reasons. One only has to recall recent news stories about employees embezzling from their firms, their partners, or arranging unauthorized payments (as in the Metra executive case) to know that access to credit records could not only save the companies’ money, they could prevent the employees, knowing they are under surveillance, from heading towards prison.
    If an employer finds a potential hire with appropriate job skills, but a credit problem, that would not necessarily preclude hiring the person. It would merit a little more supervision in those areas of the job that could be temptation to take what the employee is not entitled to: expense reimbursement, access to inventory, use of company credit cards, cash receipts, and so on.
    Our legislators are extremely naive if they don’t consider the numerous ways that employees can steal from their employers, or clients.

  14. Robin Byrd May 31, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    To the people who don’t want this bill passed: I had to argue and fight with credit card companies about payment plans and hospitals about bills. The last thing anybody needs is an employer using another excuse not to hire people.

  15. Suburban Resident June 2, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Not only are you an idiot, but also a moron.
    I hope you’re never laid off, become ill or experience financial stress where it becomes almost impossible to pay your creditors..
    But, wait!
    You’re a millionaire which received a government bailout of MY tax dollars.

  16. Alec Portis June 3, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    A satisfactory credit score is indispensable in receiving a mortgage these days. All The Same, I have determined that first-time purchasers can have a lower score and even so get a good rate on a mortgage. This is fantastic for first-time buyers because they can get more home for their money.