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Pre-Employment Inquiries and Financial Information

"Financial information" includes current or past assets, liabilities, or credit rating, bankruptcy or garnishment, refusal or cancellation of bonding, car ownership, rental or ownership of a house, length of residence at an address, charge accounts, furniture ownership, or bank accounts.

Federal law does not prevent employers from asking about your financial information.  But, the federal EEO laws do prohibit employers from illegally discriminating when using financial information to make employment decisions.

First, employers must not apply a financial requirement differently to different people based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, or genetic information.  

Second, an employer must not have a financial requirement if it does not help the employer to accurately identify responsible and reliable employees, and if, at the same time, the requirement significantly disadvantages people of a particular race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.

Third, an employer might have to make an exception to a financial requirement for a person who cannot meet the requirement because of a disability.  

Employers also must follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is not enforced by EEOC.  It is enforced by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.  This law requires employers to tell you in writing if they will do a background check.  It also requires them to get your written permission to do it, and to send you certain notices when they use the information.  If you would like to know more about FCRA, please visit, or contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.  

Depending on the state you live in, there also may be state laws governing employers' use of financial information.