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    Default Credit and Employment

    Back in 2006 and 2007 I was hit with a foreclosure and about 4 of my credit cards went to collections. I did NOT file for bankruptcy and since have removed all but a couple of collections from my credit report. I only have about $600 left to pay off and will be doing so within the next 6 months.

    I had legitimate reasons for my derogotry credit. I was on a commissioned only job and was hit with two closing companies (in a row) that did NOT payour their employees (company was protected by BK law). This all happened in the start of the financial meltdown. A couple of months later, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and died one year later. I had to move back home and assist with my mothers condition.

    I know this will be looked at, but will this be a deal breaker????

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    Not every department checks your credit in the background process, but a lot do. Some departments will have things be an automatic disqualifier, some will ask you what happened and give you a chance to explain.

    As an example, when you fill out the on-line app. For L.A. city it gets all of your information before you get to the page on drugs. If you mark down that you have tried certain drugs, are done some more than a predetermined number of times, you are out. A screen comes up that says you don’t need to continue and you need not ever apply again. I coached a guy who had had someone put LSD in his soda at a party in high school. He was rushed to the hospital and the people responsible were arrested. Because he couldn’t get past the online app. He can never work there, but most departments will listen. Bad financial problems caused by medical problems of a family member, failed businesses, poor investments, law suits, etc are accepted. If you, on the other hand had been living above your means, in a too large house in a too nice car and did it all on the cards, that would be a problem.

    If that is the only problem you have in your background, and you can show that it was not only extenuating circumstances, but you have paid most, if not all back, I don’t see it being a problem. If anything a bit of a positive in showing the kind of character you have. Don’t let this hold you back.

    Good Luck, Capt Rob
    Last edited by FFighterRob; 01-15-2010 at 03:47 PM.

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    Thank you for taking the time out of your day to respond. Your response was very helpful and encouraging. I'm in the LA area and currently working on my EMT cert and my CPAT is next month. I'd rather not go through the courses with a clouded mind.

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    As Rob has said. Some do get concerned and some don't care. Any warm body will do.

    But, for those departments that do, as we have said before there are a lot applicants trying to get a job that are as clean as a pin. Why would a FD want some one that wasn't??
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    I understand. What I don't understand is how credit can stop a canidate in their tracks before looking at the whole picture.

    Are compensating factors not accounted for? I'm going to put my hypotehical hat on for a second. Let's say a candiate has past credit issues, however, carries loads of emt and on call fire volutnary experience. In addition to that this canidate has a degree in fire science, will some depts look at the credit and decline them before looking at all of the plus sides?

    If so, that sounds extremely absurd to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dtabar View Post
    I understand. What I don't understand is how credit can stop a canidate in their tracks before looking at the whole picture.

    Are compensating factors not accounted for? I'm going to put my hypotehical hat on for a second. Let's say a candiate has past credit issues, however, carries loads of emt and on call fire volutnary experience. In addition to that this canidate has a degree in fire science, will some depts look at the credit and decline them before looking at all of the plus sides?

    If so, that sounds extremely absurd to me.

    It is a little absurd. My Credit is about to take a hit because of not getting any hours at work. But they see it as a responsibility thing. The EMT and volunteer FF and Fire science candidates are a dime a dozen. This is simple the most competitive job there is.

    Try to get your credit back and try and keep it that way is they best you can do. Hope they ask you about it instead of just looking at someone else. Its the only thing you can really do about it.
    RIP Hela

    "You have to do better then your best."
    BUD's instuctor Class 234


    "A man who won't die for something is not fit to live."
    Martin Luther King, Jr

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipys View Post
    It is a little absurd. My Credit is about to take a hit because of not getting any hours at work. But they see it as a responsibility thing.

    Is it the not enough hours at work hitting your credit or is it the over extension of your credit, spending more than you earn? It is all about personal responsibility and accepting it as well... Just sayin...

    Otherwise, very good responses and good luck!

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    Unfortunately, some depts will not even allow you to explain. Most depts have hundreds, some have thousands, of applicants for each single opening. There is that "perfect" candidate in there somewhere, it's just a question of how far into the list do they want to go. When you find the depts you will be applying to, give them a call and speak to someone that is involved in the hiring process. Explain the situation completely and then seek their advice. They don't want you wasting your time or their time either, so they'll usually be up front with you.

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    I will take the uppopular stand here and tell you that the first thing that MOST departments do is to run your credit. It's very easy for a department and is a relatively low cost item.

    Why should a department be interested in a candidate's credit history? It's simple - you borrowed money and promised to pay it back. Even if you declare bankruptcy, you still borrowed money and did not repay it. It's a simple way to identify how a candidate looks at his obligations.
    Paul Lepore
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    Paul, I agree with pulling credit, it is an easy way of evaluating someone's charatcer. With that said, to run someone's credit and see some derogatory items from 5, 10 years ago and automatically disqualify them is discriminatory.

    I understand that there's other canidates W/O any prior credit issues, but that doesn't mean they are a better FF. One canidate may come from a wealthy family and may have never had to deal with credit issues. On the other hand one canidate could have gone through divorce which in most cases automatically destorys one's credit.

    I hope for my sake, I can find a dept that will allow me to explain my situtation that occured long ago. Thanks again everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulLepore View Post
    I will take the uppopular stand here and tell you that the first thing that MOST departments do is to run your credit. It's very easy for a department and is a relatively low cost item.

    Why should a department be interested in a candidate's credit history? It's simple - you borrowed money and promised to pay it back. Even if you declare bankruptcy, you still borrowed money and did not repay it. It's a simple way to identify how a candidate looks at his obligations.
    Maybe in your area, but this is not an accurate statement. I agree that it is very important to have maintained your responsibilities, but credit is not checked in a majority of departments. There is a long debate going on in the fire service now about credit and how it is important, yet how people are set up to fail. It is so prevalent to fail that the federal government has had to address it recently.

    Taber, if it is a popular thing in your area then look outside Southern Cali. Get your EMT, then get your Medic, and by then your credit will be years old and have been corrected. Then once you are a Medic you can look country wide.

    In my opinion I would take someone who took a few risks, and recovered, then took care of an ailing parent over someone who made 1 years worth of credit card payments.

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    As someone who has done backgrounds for a large and small Fire Departments I have to agree with those who say that we do check your financial background. If there is a glitch in your records we would simply ask you what the circumstances were. It was also said that there are hundreds and even thousands who want the position and why not look at the whole package. If you were picking a candidate who would you hire.....one who has trouble handling his/her finances or one who does not??? if both were tied on a list...
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKflightmedic View Post
    Is it the not enough hours at work hitting your credit or is it the over extension of your credit, spending more than you earn? It is all about personal responsibility and accepting it as well... Just sayin...

    Otherwise, very good responses and good luck!

    It is a bit to of both to tell you the truth. I got in over my head about 4 years ago with a car and a few other items been paying them with no problem other then living paycheck to paycheck. Now no hours I am not getting enough money in my paycheck to pay them. I also am now officially unemployed.
    RIP Hela

    "You have to do better then your best."
    BUD's instuctor Class 234


    "A man who won't die for something is not fit to live."
    Martin Luther King, Jr

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    As someone who has done backgrounds for a large and small Fire Departments I have to agree with those who say that we do check your financial background. If there is a glitch in your records we would simply ask you what the circumstances were. It was also said that there are hundreds and even thousands who want the position and why not look at the whole package. If you were picking a candidate who would you hire.....one who has trouble handling his/her finances or one who does not??? if both were tied on a list...
    Jay the OP "had" financial issues, but now has them corrected for the most part. How would you factor that in?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dtabar View Post
    Paul, I agree with pulling credit, it is an easy way of evaluating someone's charatcer. With that said, to run someone's credit and see some derogatory items from 5, 10 years ago and automatically disqualify them is discriminatory.

    I understand that there's other canidates W/O any prior credit issues, but that doesn't mean they are a better FF. One canidate may come from a wealthy family and may have never had to deal with credit issues. On the other hand one canidate could have gone through divorce which in most cases automatically destorys one's credit.

    I hope for my sake, I can find a dept that will allow me to explain my situtation that occured long ago. Thanks again everyone.
    I'm on the officer.com boards and saw a thread about credit checks. I posted that it's illegal to not hire someone just based on their credit. A lot of people said that it wasn't. They said that people have even been fired for having bad credit(especially on the federal end). The people that are for the firings say if the people can't make good decisions on paying bills then what kind of decisions are they making out on the street. I know it's a pretty sore subject. Anyways good luck on your adventures and don't get discouraged by anything!

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    I can say, at least in Illinois, you must sign a release allowing the department to access your credit report. They are not allowed to look without you signing this release. Now, if you don't sign, you can't apply. However, I bring this up because I have only signed this for about 8 of the 24 departments I have applied for. So my personal experience shows 33% of the departments even look at your credit report.

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    Howís Your Credit Score?

    So you make it into backgrounds on a job offer thinking your credit is OK. Then you are presented with a less than desirable credit report. When you look at the report you realize the bad items on the report arenít yours.

    You know the background is coming up at some time. You want to know what your credit report says about you. More than 30% of credit reports have errors. A recent check on mine revealed addresses I have never lived at, wrong birthday, job experience and some of my sonís credit and a car I never owned.

    No chief wants bill collectors coming around the station, attaching your wages, or the temptation of a firefighter to steal on duty or in a citizenís home to cover their bills.

    Of course the best course of action is to maintain a good credit rating. Itís often not the problem but how you write out an explanation for the background like the original open post above. Most candidates turn themselves inside out when a simple explanation is often all that is needed to resolve most of the situations.

    Many candidates get stretched financially in their pursuit of gaining a badge working odd jobs while trying to complete their education, experience or medic school.

    Itís not the items of concern, but the when and why. Like most candidates that enter the hiring process, they get hyper vigilant and the voices of panic and guilt start running around in their heads.

    When did these incidents happen? If it was a financial problem, what was your financial situation then? Do you have a plan? How is your credit now?

    A recent coaching candidate who is close to making the cut was concerned about his credit. His credit started going south during medical school. I asked him if he had gone to his relatives with a plan first to help pay for medic school? He said he was too proud to ask. I said if you had asked them now, would they have come forward with the funds. He said yes.

    OK, get a plan together where youíre at now and what you need to turn this around and present it to your relatives. Then, go down in person, make the necessary payment or pay off the loans and most importantly get a receipt. Because it can take up to 90 days for your payments to make it up on your credit report. If anything bad shows up on your credit report, you will have the receipt to prove it paid. Too proud? Get out of here. Iíve yet to have a candidate get a plan together and present it to relatives that they didnít help out.

    Another candidate Timís credit got stretched because his wife and him figured out that if she went back to college and completed her teaching credential they could improve their finances. When credit report came up with the background investigator Tim was able to show that his wife already had already graduated, had a teaching job for a few months, showed improvement in all his payments, and getting the fire job would put them in a position to wipe out all the credit problems. Tim was hired because he had a reasonable explanation and a plan to back it up.

    Another: I have a question about backgrounds. I just picked up my package on Tuesday. I know they are going to check out my finances and this has been a rough couple of years for my family. My father in law was diagnosed with cancer about two and a half years ago. He deteriorated very quickly and could not work. He and my mother in law stood to lose everything, so my wife and I helped. We did have some slow and late payments on our credit cards and such because of the added financial burden. When my father in law passed away, he did not have insurance. So our financial help has been more needed that ever.

    My question is the city has provided a spot for me to give a brief "life story" as part of the background. Would this be an appropriate place to relay this story? I understand that late payments on my credit report may lead some to think that I am irresponsible, however, I was and am taking care of one of my own, and I believe the investigator should know that. Thanks for any thoughts, Jeff

    Reply: Yes, your reasonable explanation that you have put here can help. But what is your plan to correct your credit situation? Will getting the badge with this department provide the necessary funds to be financially sound? You must have a plan before you show up to meet the background investigator.

    JB: We have implemented a spending plan and are pulling ourselves out while still helping those who need it. Additionally, the badge with this fire department definitely will provide the necessary funds to be financially sound, but should I use that in the interview? I remember from the CDs you said never use, "pay, benefits, or days off."

    CB: Your credit will not come up during the interview. It we be handled when you get into background.

    The best way to find out about your credit is request a free copy from one of the 3 major credit bureaus. Here are the bureaus:

    Equifax Credit Information Services
    Box 105518
    Atlanta, GA 30348
    Phone: 877-463-5505 (for Credit Report orders) Phone (800) 685-5000
    (for disputes)

    Experian
    Box 949
    Allen, TX 75013-0949
    Phone: 888-397-3742 (for Credit Report orders)
    Phone (800) 583-4080 (for disputes)

    Trans Union Corporation (TUC)
    P.O. Box 1000, Chester PA 19022
    Phone: (800) 888-4213 (for Credit Report orders)
    Phone (800) 916-8800 (for disputes)

    If there is anything on your report that is not right, you can dispute it. The disputed company has 30 days to respond. If they donít, they will take it off. Many donít respond. If you still have a problem with an item, you can add a 100 word statement explaining why to your credit report.
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

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    VirginiaFF...Having a credit problem in the past will still show up. The main thing to do is when asked be honest and give full disclosure on the past problems. I'm very sure that things will work themselves out.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    Here is the link to a background packet commonly used for a firefighter position in California. Check itout for yourself and you can make your own decision. I do understand that different parts of the county my vary.

    http://www.aspiringfirefighters.com/...estionaire.pdf
    Paul Lepore
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    we do look at credit report

    it is not an automatic deal breaker

    we will let the person explain, if they make it to interview

    we do look at how long ago it was


    we also look at if they are currently having problems, say they need to pay 6000 a month and the ff job only pays 3000 are they going to bring trouble along if they are hired, because they cannot pay????

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