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Credit checks are an important tool in the screening process

May 17, 2011 Matt Roesly

A recent survey by The National Association of Independent Landlords found that 82 percent of independent landlords would rent to somebody who had lost a home in foreclosure, the Star Global Tribune reports. "Landlords typically won’t rent to applicants with poor credit - and a foreclosure will absolutely slam someone’s scores," Tracey Benson, president of The National Association of Independent Landlords, explained to the media outlet. "The exception is when they see people who have paid their bills their whole life, but lost their job, can’t meet their mortgage and must hand their keys back to the bank." Benson adds that a thorough background check will indicate whether an applicant had a mortgage default due to job loss or if they are simply ill-equipped borrowers. Credit checks are also standard procedure for potential employees in most vocations. The industries most likely to conduct a background check of one's credit history are those where the employee is going to handle money, or works for an entity where abiding by the law is paramount. Financial institutions, insurance companies, law enforcement, debt collectors or government agencies fall into this category, according to TheSouthern. These occupations are exempt from a law that recently went into effect in Illinois, called the Employee Credit Privacy Act, the news source adds. This legislation prohibits the use of credit histories or credit reports in making employment decisions. Generally speaking, however, a loophole in the law exists if a job gives employees authority that can be used to misappropriate information or assets for their own financial benefit. If this is the case, then the employee be may subject to a credit check. A background check of one's credit card history may have prevented a foster father from committing sexually deviant acts on his adopted sons. In a recent case, Joseph Leonard Larson of St. Paul, Minnesota, pled guilty to sexually abusing two boys in his care, according to TwinCities.com. The media outlet explains that Larson was licensed to provide foster care from 2002 through 2006. However, when he filed for a new document in 2007, the State Department of Human Services revoked his application, after they found that his previous authentication had been closed due to a pending investigation by law enforcement. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency had conducted a background check on Larson in 2004 and found that two of his credit cards were used to buy access to child pornography websites in 2002 and 2003, and that his email address was connected to those purchases.