Facebook may cost you a job

JOBSEEKERS are being subjected to credit history checks by their potential new bosses, with checks of their Facebook and other social media accounts not off limits either.

Business for ‘‘validation’’ companies is  booming, particularly in the Hunter where nervous bosses are delving deeper into the lives of  prospective recruits.

‘‘A lot of it is required by law, but the rapid increase in business is coming from employers wanting to mitigate risk and know if their candidate has a criminal history or poor credit history,’’ general manager of validations company Verify, Greg Newton, said.

Credit history checks have raised the ire of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and caught the attention of the Privacy Commissioner, with calls for tighter regulation of the booming industry.

‘‘Employers should not be seeking personal information unless it is necessary,’’ council secretary Stephen Blanks said.

‘‘In the vast majority of cases, credit history is not a relevant requirement of a job.’’

Three jobseekers the Herald spoke to said they were angered by the checks. 

One, who applied for an IT job, and a second who applied for an engineering job, refused to sign waivers issued to them by their potential employers because they claimed it breached privacy standards and left them with no recourse if their personal details were improperly  used.

Summa McCosker, from the Broadmeadow-based People Check, said that while some bosses wanted credit history checks on job candidates, ‘‘they should be careful about the type of information they’re seeking, and how they use it’’.

She said: ‘‘It’s more about searching for insolvencies, summonses or loan defaults than it is about mortgages or credit cards.’’ 

Verify’s Mr Newton said: ‘‘Companies want to know about poor credit histories because they’re trying to mitigate the potential for internal fraud.

‘‘It should be added that such checks would go to the candidate first, who would need to approve of it before it went to the actual employer.’’ 

But civil libertarians say access to information databases should be  better regulated.

Social media sites  were also being used by bosses to build profiles of job candidates, but Mr Newton and Ms McCosker said formal requests were not common.

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