For many years, companies and the government have had certain criteria for background checks. However, one major factor in these background checks is fundamentally flawed. Credit checks.
For many occupations, a background check which shows an applicant has existing debt or a less than perfect credit rating will automatically discredit that applicant. This is especially true in security positions and financial management occupations, including bank tellers. One should note that some of these positions do not pay extremely well, such as bank teller positions.
Anyone who pays attention knows that many of the worst, most prolific criminals who have committed crimes which affect thousands of lives at a time have had perfect credit ratings. Bernie Madoff, the CEO’s of Bear-Sterns, JP Morgan, Raytheon, Boeing, weapons manufacturers all have shining credit ratings, yet look at the theft, suffering and destruction they have caused.
I’m not saying that personal finance should not play a role in background checks. However, far too much emphasis is placed on credit checks. Of course, the people who set the standards for background checks have their own agendas and biases which place concern for money well over the concern for ethics, honesty or even human life. Of course the criteria are set to ensure the applicant has the exact same set of priorities as the employer.
A person having flaws in their credit history or having debt is not a sign in itself of personal failing, ethics, irresponsibility or risk. It takes far more to determine that. Loss of a job, decreased income over a long time frame can deeply impact your credit history. The most common cause of bankruptcy in the US is medical debt. Yet a person with a great financial history may well have that history due to illegal activity, refusing to treat their own children’s illnesses, etc.
The media frequently enforces certain stereotypes. A parent with low income that cannot afford medical treatment for their child is portrayed as a monster. No mention of the monstrous system that places them in that position. A person who robs a store or steals food is a criminal. The hedge fund manager who bankrupts thousands of poorer investors or the bank that charges thousands of customers millions in fraudulent charges is a scandal. Unless they steal from the rich. Then and only then do they go to prison.
The fact is, flaws in financial history which can be attributed to verifiable life events, such as job loss or illness can be a sign of even greater ethics and honesty than the person who has no flaws in their history. What should be more of a red flag is a history of life events with no major negative changes or recovery from a temporary event too suddenly with no correlating increase in income to explain it.
Many times employers never use the most valuable tool available for a background check, which is a psychological examination. Of course, an intelligent person may be able to fake their way through such an examination on paper, especially if they have studied psychology to some level. However, an interview in person is more difficult to falsify.
The fact is, a person who has been poor, been through difficulties and survived without compromising their values is more trustworthy than a person who has not had those challenges. Greed is powerful, as we have seen clearly. Those who worship money and status will always worship money and status.
If you think back over your life, chances are that the people you trusted most were not rich, did not have perfect credit ratings. They were people who had been through challenges. Isn’t it strange that those who set standards for background checks aren’t capable of realizing this?
Or perhaps they do. Because those who hold by their values may also wind up being whistle blowers.