New York Times front page news, herding cats

Today, December 26, 2012, a newspaper named the New York Times published an item on page A1 of its “New York” edition.

The article states, “The credit score, once a little-known metric derived from a complex formula that incorporates outstanding debt and payment histories, has become an increasingly important number used to bestow credit, determine housing and even distinguish between job candidates.”

Key words: increasingly, even, and score (as opposed to report).

The Times fails to attribute its reporting of the alleged use of credit scores to distinguish between job candidates to any source.  However, later in the same article, the publication states, “And while eight states, including California, Illinois and Maryland, have passed laws limiting employers ability to use credit checks when assessing job candidates, 13 percent of employers surveyed by the Society of Human Resource Management in July performed credit checks on all job applicants.”

That says credit checks, not credit scores, so, still, there is no attribution regarding the claim about scores.

The top three consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

While the Times refers to a survey conducted in July, SHRM’s website page about a study done December 28, 2011 through Feb. 7 states, “The percentage of employers that conduct credit background checks on potential employees has dropped since 2010, according to a 2012 survey of 544 U.S.-based HR professionals.”

SHRM confirmed that a previous survey it conducted did not refer to credit scores.  The association’s website also states, “A credit score is a number that gives a snapshot of a period of time; employers do not see this information.”

Recently, the President of the United States said:

If you haven’t checked out your credit score recently, you should.  It can have a major impact on your life.  It can determine whether or not you qualify for a loan or what kind of interest you have to pay.  It can even affect your chances at renting an apartment or getting a job.

A year ago, after a Christmastime message about employers and credit scores, Wikipedia (the message board that looks like an encyclopedia) co-founder Jimmy Wales removed an “unsourced controversial claim” about employers using credit scores.  Wales was quickly usurped, and the unbudging myth returned, this time with a reference to the Times.