3 Ways To Prep Your Credit Before A Job Search

Today, a high credit score matters more than ever. A spotless financial record can help you rent a home, lock down low insurance rates, and even pass a pre-employment background check. Because it’s perfectly legal in many states for a company to request your credit report before offering you a job, savvy job seekers know to prepare their report in advance.

“The job market is incredibly tough and finding a way to stick out from the other job applicants is a must,” says Jeff Rose, a certified financial planner and creator of GoodFinancialCents.com.

Here are three steps you can take before applying for your next gig:

1. Request a copy of your own credit report.

Information is power! Before prospective employers see your report, order your own copy and read over it thoroughly. Thankfully, all Americans have the right to order a copy of their own credit reports each year at no cost, by using AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. You can request a copy of your credit file from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

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2. Correct inaccuracies.

The Federal Trade Commission has found that one in four consumers have found errors in their credit report significant enough to affect their score.1 So when you receive your credit reports, the first thing that you will want to do is to read through them to see if all of the information is correct. And if you find information that’s not accurate, the law allows you to contact the company that issues the report to have it corrected. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can send a dispute in writing to the credit bureaus, along with supporting documentation, and they are required to investigate the items in question within 30 days. You should also send a letter to the company that provided the inaccurate information, and include copies of documentation supporting your claim.2

3. Explain negative information.

In many cases, you might find information on a credit report that while negative, is also accurate. In these cases, it can help to offer an explanation of any circumstances that caused the problem. The FCRA requires that credit bureaus allow you to submit a 100 word letter that will be included in your report. For example, if you were hospitalized and it caused you to miss a payment, or if a spouse failed to make payments to a joint account during a divorce, you could use your statement to explain it. While these statements will not help to remove the negative information from your credit report, it can give employers the proper context with which to consider your credit report.3

When you take the time to examine your own credit report, make corrections, and provide you own statement, you can offer the best possible impression to any employer that decides to dig deeper into your financial background.

1. http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/02/ftc-study-five-percent-consumers-had-errors-their-credit-reports

2. http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0151-disputing-errors-credit-reports

3. http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/help/add-written-statement-to-credit-report-6000.php

Legal Disclaimer: The articles and information provided herein are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice. 

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