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HOME > Influence > Media > Websites > Wikipedia > Groundhog Day > 2012

Groundhog Day, 2012: Wikipedia - Jimbo vs. Cookiehead

Wikipedia (the message board that looks like an encyclopedia) co-founder's edit is deleted


Myth: Employers use credit scores

Even the biggest of the big shots of Wikipedia (see Groundhog Day, 2011) couldn't stop it: this myth, this urban legend—this inaccurate information about employers using credit scores.

The national consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment purposes. On its website, Experian explains: "Experian's Employment Insight report includes similar information about loans and credit cards that is listed in the credit report. It does not include year of birth, spouse reference, account number or credit score, which are irrelevant to hiring decisions."

More succinctly, on another page, the company states, flat-out, "Employers never get a credit score."

Another of the big three CRAs, TransUnion, even testified, "There's no such thing as a credit score in employment."

Wikipedia's move, and Cookiehead

In December, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia personified, tried to eliminate an entry to Wikipedia that warned, "Another Non[SIC] traditional use of credit scores in the United States that has been growing since the economic down turn is pre-employment."

That inaccurate claim was made anonymously by someone at IP address, which is associated with the Denver area.

Here is what happened. First was this message from the @creditscoring Twitter social network account: "Christmas came early this year. So, #nowwhat, @jimmy_wales and #wikipedia?"

Next, Wales (aka "Jimbo") removed the bogus claim associated with the Colorado IP, tagging the edit with "rm unsourced controversial claim."

The following day, a Wikipedian (rhymes with comedian) with the screenname Cookiehead posted, "In 2009, TransUnion representatives testified before the Connecticut legislature about their practice of marketing credit score reports to employers for use in the hiring process."

Another message to Wales from @creditscoring said, ".@jimmy_wales TransUnion testifies on credit scores in employment.".


TransUnion testified alright, but here is what the CRA's representative actually said to the lawmakers that day: “Now, credit scores aren’t used in employment decisions so let’s get that straight.”

So, why would anybody looking for a job—when credit reports are free—want to buy a credit score? They're not used by employers. Who would want the jobless to spend money on such a thing?

But wait, there's more

Wikipedia, "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit," also proclaims that "Credit utilization—The ratio of current revolving debt (such as credit card balances) to the total available revolving credit or credit limit," makes up 30% of the FICO score (referring to the Fair Isaac broad-based risk credit bureau score).

As with the credit scores/jobs notion, that is not proven, either. Simple math does not, practically, support the statement, but an endless parade of chumps have lined up to repeat it. Even Wikipedia's graphic is misleading: It refers to the 30% category as "Capacity used" while the article itself calls it "Credit Utilization." Neither are correct. The Wikipedia editors use an entirely different name for the category. The reality is that the credit score company calls it "Amounts owed," and there is even a footnote linking to those words on the official FICO website.

The media's treatment of that aspect of the famous score is pathetic. Mathematical logic be damned, the time-tested self-regulating principle of journalism—citing sources—is all but forgotten.

And, even more

Wikipedia says, "Any money owed because of a court judgment, tax lien, etc. carry an additional negative penalty, especially when recent."

On the other hand, The Wizard says, "Your score can be affected by the mere presence of an adverse public record, whether paid or not."

Don't be misled.

More, still

Previous entry: Groundhog Day, 2011. For updates, see The Credit Score Blog category: Wikipedia, and return to The Credit Scoring Site on Groundhog Day, February 2, 2013.

Maybe it all comes down to the name. As one man said, "The Wiki- part is fine, but if it were up to me, I'd lose the -pedia."

Also, see

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

Also, see
creditscoring on twitter Facebook Page:  The Credit Scoring Site, YouTube Channel:  The Credit Scoring Site,
Reddit overview for CreditScoring email The Credit Scoring Site,
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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"