Thirty-two percent of self-identified identity theft victims who utilized services by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), and agreed to be surveyed, said in ITRC’s Aftermath 2018 report that the incident caused problems at work. Victims also reported that they lost job opportunities or even lost their current job because of issues related to identity theft. Learn how to better protect yourself—and your future job prospects.
About Half of Employers Review Credit Reports
About half of employers review a candidate’s credit report as part of the hiring process. Employers may assess credit reports to look for indicators of problems they want to avoid. For instance, they might see late payments as a sign that a candidate is not very organized and excessive debt as a red flag for financial distress. Plus, the hiring manager might wonder if someone who cannot manage their own finances would be able to handle company money or confidential information. Therefore, a credit report riddled with identity-theft-driven issues like late payments and high debt could negatively impact a job search.
Even More Employers Conduct Background Checks
Criminal identity theft occurs when an identity thief uses someone else’s identity when arrested or charged with a crime and could result in criminal charges showing up on a victim’s background check. With more than half of employers conducting background checks, a victim of criminal identity theft could potentially face difficulty landing a job.
Fortunately for job seekers, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is primarily enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), regulates background reports for employment, and job candidates have rights under federal law.
First, before obtaining a background report, an employer must notify the candidate that they may use the information to make a decision relating to employment. The employer must get the candidate’s written permission. Second, if the employer believes they may not hire, retain, or promote a candidate based on information in the background report, they must provide a copy of the report and information about how the candidate can contact the company who provided it.
Your city or state may offer additional protections, so consider seeking the advice of an attorney who is familiar with the laws where you work and live.
The Best Defense: Notify Potential Employers
If you have been a victim of identity theft, experts say that your best defense may be to proactively notify your employer (or, if you’re searching for a new job, your potential employer). Inform prospective employers that you’ve been victimized, and consider adding a note and attaching a copy of the police report to the written authorization you provide the employer.
Learn More from the FTC
For more information, refer to the FTC’s web page on background checks for employment, or contact the FTC at ftc.gov, 1- 877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or 1-866-653-4261 (TTY).