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Transitioning Out of the Military? Check Your Credit!

Getting out of the military soon? Then chances are you have already thought about sending those resumes out to civilian employers. But before you fill out any more applications, you might want to pull your own credit report – especially if you are applying for positions that require a security clearance.

Approximately 47 percent of employers check personal credit reports of applicants for at least some jobs prior to extending a job offer, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, and 13 percent of employers actually pull a credit bureau report on all applicants.

The practice has come under fire from some observers as potentially discriminatory, though SHRM defends the practice as a vital tool in differentiating potential job applicants and screening them for judgment and stability.

But there’s a problem: The three major credit bureaus routinely get things wrong. A 2009 study from the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups indicates that 8 out of every 10 credit reports have errors. And 25 percent of all reports contain errors that are so significant that they could cause a consumer to be unjustly denied credit.

The combination of widespread reliance on consumer credit reports for employment decisions and the rampant error rates on credit bureaus mean that you are at risk of getting denied employment simply because of false information on your credit report.

That’s why you should check your reports every year – but especially right before you engage in a job search.

Fortunately, a free look at your credit report is yours for the asking. Each of the three major bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, is required by law to furnish you a free copy of your credit report if you ask for it. You can request it once every 12 months.

To do so, go to the website, or dial 877-322-8228.

Be prepared to provide your name, Social Security Number, and perhaps some other confidential information about yourself that is on your credit report but that an identity thief is not likely to know.

You can also request your reports in writing at Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

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