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TransUnion employers survey credit report question error

Consumer reporting agency releases botched survey results

Also, see

National Financial Literacy Month, 2011 (video),
Myth: Employers use credit scores


TransUnion conducted a survey of human resource decision makers, but asked the wrong question.

TransUnion's official policy is to not supply credit scores for employment screening. But in the survey, instead of credit report use by employers, the consumer reporting agency asked about credit score use. TransUnion gave the survey results to U.S. News, who blogged about it in February. The post was a number-one hit in a news search for the term credit score.

Unintended consequence

When asked by's author about the discrepancy, the U.S. News reporter replied with a correction (eventually), but not before a writer, television commentator and author of the best credit score book chimed in.

TransUnion's public relations firm said that it recommissioned the survey, and that the correct questions are:

"As part of your screening process for potential employees, do you utilize a Pre-Employment Credit Report?"

"Does a candidate's Pre-Employment Credit Report play a role in whether or not your company decides to extend an offer to that person?"

The surprising result of the original (flawed) survey was that, despite TransUnion's stated policy, 13% of the respondents replied that they use credit scores.

Comedy of errors

The official TransUnion press release states, "For the full survey results, and to learn more about managing your finances, log onto and visit the learning center." If you find the survey results there, please write.

The U.S. News reporter's belief that credit scores are used by employers was repeated in a Wall Street Journal blog. Written one week after the TransUnion correction, the WSJ blog headline and story were correct, but the HTML page title and meta description used the words score and scores. Alerted to that error by's author, WSJ changed the page title, but the description (on your browser's menu, View, Source) remains "Many employers are checking job candidates' credit scores, but how big of a factor are credit scores in a company's eventual decision to hire?"

Viral marketing can make you sick.

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Do employers use credit scores?

Don't believe it.

April, 1997: "Information on how to obtain one's credit score is suspiciously absent from your site. How do I get mine?"

"And we're not running a game show. I mean, we're evaluating risk. We're not trying to have people get--achieve the highest score."

"Fisher is a fan of going by the book and then beyond it."

"He beat the scoring proponents to the punch by scooping up the web address, from which he launches often strident, sometimes wacky, but usually well-documented attacks on the credit-scoring concept and the industries that support it."

Realty Consumers Empowered By Online "Peoples" Court - "His Web site helped him-- and millions of other consumers-- extend fair credit reporting rights to credit scoring information."

"Fisher operates the Web site, which skewers the secrecy of the credit bureaus and Fair, Isaac." - The Detroit News

" is an exceptionally-interesting site that offers news and information regarding credit scoring and-- really-- the entire credit process."

"'Garbage in, garbage out,' says Greg Fisher of Dayton, Ohio, who runs two Web sites on the subject, and"