Police Officer & Credit History – Advice When Looking for a Police Job
How to Become a Police Officer with a Bad Credit Report
If you want to be a police officer one day but you have bad credit, there may be hope. While a police employment credit inquiry cannot provide a FICO score, it can tell the department several things about your personal habits, debt load, and general character. Before I go on about how to put yourself in a better position to get hired, let’s look at what an employment credit report will show.
Below is what the police department will see when reviewing your credit information:
• Past Employers (usually your last one or two long term employers)
• Collections (accounts such as credit cards that had balances sold to collection agencies)
• Credit Availability (amount of usable credit remaining)
• Revolving Accounts (accounts such as credit cards with varying balances)
• Installment Accounts (accounts with set amounts to pay down such as car loans or student loans)
• Mortgage Accounts (home mortgages, second mortgages and home equity loans)
• Past Inquiries (list of companies that pulled your credit history or credit score in recent months)
Here are some general tips to utilize before applying for a police officer job:
The first thing you must do is make sure you know what’s on your credit report before applying for the job. You can do is to head over to http://www.annualcreditreport.com to view (for free one time a year) your credit report from all three bureaus in order to ensure all information provided is accurate and up to date. If you do find a mistake, it is the credit bureau’s responsibility by law to investigate these errors and update your report.
If you have been out of work for several months and your credit report has taken a nose dive, always be up front and honest with your assigned police recruitment officer. It is better for them to know what they are going to see before they view your history rather than to be surprised by it. Normally, a police department may also take into account more of the full history of your report as opposed to the recent blemishes.
“What will cause a police department to raise an eyebrow at your credit report?”
Some people automatically think of bankruptcies and home foreclosures, but this is not always the case. In fact, law enforcement agencies must be cautious as to what criteria they use to eliminate a potential applicant from a job position based on a poor credit report. While employer credit checks are legal, they can be considered discriminatory if they disproportionately exclude minorities, women, or are not essential to a hiring decision.
That being said, a police department may assess your personal characteristics by your tendency to pay your bills on time. If you are often 30 or more days late on several payments, they may also look at your overall load of debt and what credit you have available to you. Law enforcement agencies may view someone who has an abundant amount of debt as someone with a higher risk of stealing while on patrol to make ends meet. However, something such as cable bill sent to collections or a few missed payments over a long period of time most likely will be overlooked if the rest of the report shows an overall responsible handling of debt.
Tips to Become a Cop FAST!
The best tip I can give you is to simply be honest with the recruiter about your past indiscretions. You could have been young and knew nothing about credit cards and as a result it was used improperly. Don’t fret over it but don’t make the mistake of ignoring it either. If you ignore you credit history and don’t change your spending behavior, it can prove to be disastrous in the long run.
Contact the collection agency to make good on your debt. Make sure to look over your credit history for any errors and report any issues.
Honestly, instead of stressing about your credit, focus on getting a top score on the police exam and oral board interview. Sometimes if you “wow” the panel during the oral exam, good or bad credit WILL NOT prevent you from getting offered the position. The hiring panel won’t ignore good talent because of minor credit infractions. Try focusing on the things you can control like getting prepared for the oral interview or the written examination.
In conclusion, before you apply to become a police officer make certain that you have your ducks in a row. First, gather your credit report history for free at the link above, correct any errors, and inform your assigned recruiting officer of any possible negative findings.
About The Author
Officer Forestal has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, 8 years law enforcement experience and is a graduate of the 2002 Police Corps, where he was recognized as an expert shooter. Former Collegiate all-American, certifield personal trainer and author of several fitness and police related books such as the Police Oral Interview Secrets, and Police Exam For Dummies. As a Law Enforcement enthusiast, E.L. has helped hundreds of candidates "ACE" their respective entrance exam and the oral board interview. Learn More...