Fired for having student loans? Latoya Horton says she was fired from her job as an accountant, not because she did anything wrong, but because her employer checked her credit report and decided her debt-to-credit ratio was too high. Latoya was outraged: "How are you supposed to pay off your student loans if you can't get -- or keep -- a job because of your loans?"
It happens more than you think: Latoya found out that 60% of employers now check employees' credit reports. They often buy them from TransUnion, one of the largest credit reporting companies. TransUnion's chair, Penny Pritzker, even sits on President Obama's jobs panel. She's responsible for spurring job creation, but her company is profiting from a practice that makes it harder for people with debt to find work.
You can help: Latoya started a petition on Change.org demanding that TransUnion stop selling credit reports to employers immediately. If thousands of people sign Latoya's petition, it will shine a national spotlight on what Latoya thinks is an ethically dubious practice, and TransUnion's executives will be forced to respond.
Here's a lot more information about Latoya's campaign in her own words:
Years ago I went to college to study accounting, and like millions of other Americans I took out loans to pay for it. A few years later I got a temporary job in the accounting department at Bain & Co., and after 6 months of reliable work I was thrilled to be offered a full-time position.
However, just a few weeks after starting in my new position the company fired me because my debt-to-credit ratio was too high. I later learned that 60% of employers now check credit reports, which typically include student debts. How are you supposed to pay off your student debts if you can't get (or keep) a job BECAUSE of your debts? And what do my student debts have to do with my ability to do a job well anyway?
25 states have debated bills in the last year to restrict this practice, and in a number of these states one company has fought hardest against these efforts: credit reporting company TransUnion.
What's ironic is that Penny Pritzker, TransUnion's Chair and part owner, sits on President Obama's Jobs and Competitiveness Council, which advises the President on putting Americans back to work. How can someone advise on national job creation when her company sells products that may keep qualified people out of work?
Please join me and 25 national civil rights organizations in calling on TransUnion to stop its sale of credit reports to employers. As the only one of the “Big 3” credit reporting companies that's privately held, TransUnion has the ability to stop this practice overnight.
It was recently announced that in the coming weeks TransUnion will be sold to two private equity companies, including Goldman Sachs. If Penny Pritzker is serious about job creation, she should do what she can to ensure that her company stops this abusive practice before the company is sold.