Credit Claims For Boston Social Workers: Legal Strategies For Career Advancement – I haven’t counted, but it should have. Boney, who moved to the United States from Mexico in his late 20s, needed to buy or lease equipment for his growing independent construction business. It was 2016 and he was making decent money and paying for housing and other living expenses. But with no credit history, her options for expanding her job prospects were limited and included high interest rates that seemed both expensive and risky.

Without a credit score, Bonnie was stuck. Whatever he did with his money would be fine if the reporting companies knew about it. They are not.

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Congressman Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, and Michael Fitzpatrick, Republican of Pennsylvania, teamed up in September 2013 to talk about people like Boney and the tens of millions of others who, as Fitzpatrick noted, “paid their bills on time. They pay their cell phone bills, their utilities, and they pay a landlord. These positive credit activities are not reported anywhere, but God forbid you pay.”

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There was nothing wrong with what Bonnie did, or with what black and Latino people do. He just wasn’t what the consumer credit companies had in mind when they developed and promoted consumer credit scores. The result is that millions of Americans who should have access to credit do not.

A 1970 federal law required that cold, hard facts guide credit decisions, rather than the prejudice that was the norm at the time. This resulted in a higher credit score.

One of the inventors of credit scoring, William Fair, testified before Congress in 1979 that there is an inherent fairness in using information agnosically to determine who is creditworthy and who is a high risk of default.

Fair challenged Congress to use race, gender, or other social categories in evaluating creditworthiness. He thought that these factors could have some kind of meaning and therefore should be used. If there’s public concern about how credit opportunities are distributed, he said, it’s not the data’s fault.

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“More than half of black adults today have no credit or a credit score below 640, which is considered a ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ credit risk.”

On the contrary, he argued that it is the responsibility of legislators to determine justice. He told senators at the hearing that determining justice “is your authority, duty and responsibility, not mine. I follow the law and advise my clients to do just that.”

The Fair Credit Scoring System helped invent what is today labeled as the FICO score, which starts at 300 and goes up to 850. More than half of black adults today have no credit or a credit score below 640, which is considered “poor” or “fair.” ” credit risks, the lowest two categories out of five. Of consumers with scores below 620, 41% are at least 30 days past due. And 28% of people in this category are “likely to become seriously delinquent,” according to credit rating agency Experian. A Brookings Institution report found that counties with residents with an average credit score below 620 but above 560 had high black and Latino concentrations, with 28% and 19% of the county’s population, respectively.

People with low credit scores are more likely to be turned down for mortgages, loans and credit cards – or to be charged higher interest rates than people with higher scores. According to a 2016 report, consumers with credit scores above 760 would save just under $33,000 in interest payments on a 30-year mortgage, enough to buy a car or pay for two years of public college tuition.

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As a result, black and Latino borrowers pay more to get the same goods and services as their white counterparts, or they are denied the opportunity to buy them altogether because of their low scores.

As Fair told Congress, complete information about a potential customer is better than partial information. Select or exclude – only some of this information can effectively favor members of one group over another. But as Sen. Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, reminded Fair at the hearing, the government has decided that credit decisions should not “discriminate against people based on race, religion, ethnicity, sex, marital status, age or disability.”

Congress has decided to place some restrictions on the market, Levin continued, telling Fire: “Society has decided that we are not going to stereotype people based on race or religion or ethnicity for social purposes, even though it has statistical data. . value, even though a computer can tell us that people coming from Yugoslavia pay faster or slower than people coming from Austria. We won’t let you do that.”

Senator Paul Tsongas, Democrat of Massachusetts, said some characteristics of a person are not fair game: “There are certain variables that can affect the behavior of a person – whether you pay your bills, what kind of car, etc. – while there are. there is no way you can leave being white, black, greek, hungarian or whatever. Race, gender and other immutable attributes, Levine said, “have nothing to do with personal motivation or ability to successfully participate in the system.”

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Fair took a dim view of the government’s engineering justice. He believed that it would be up to the analysis of the data to determine whether race or gender had much to do with repayment behavior. If it happens, it happens, it happens. If it exacerbated racial inequality, at least the cause would be objective risk, his argument went instead to subjective prejudice. The outlook for the fair, however bad, has shaped America’s credit fundamentals.

Today, credit scores are based on credit history. Its creators claim that the score is based on a person’s history, but so much relevant information is left out. For example, blacks and Latinos, who are in occupations that are more vulnerable to financial downturns or are often the last to be hired but the first to be fired, experience greater job disruption. Employment disruption appears to be a racially neutral indicator of a person’s creditworthiness, unless you ask what causes the disruption in the first place.

Similarly, the assumption that the same behaviors will be equally rewarded ignores evidence to the contrary. Home ownership yields lower investment returns for nearly equal ownership among majority-Black and majority-White households. During periods of financial crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, existing financial gaps have widened as families with less intergenerational wealth struggle.

The effects of bad credit go beyond their ability to borrow money and even affect their earning capacity. At least a quarter of businesses report that they request job applicants’ credit reports — even though they’re not allowed to see credit scores — when deciding who to hire.

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There is no evidence that a credit report predicts job performance. But some employers say they check credit records because they fear that someone who is in financial trouble is more likely to steal, or that someone who has missed a lot of payments will be disorganized or lack follow-up.

In a randomized experiment with more than 1,000 hiring managers, researchers found that women with bad credit reports were less likely to be invited to a job interview than men with the same report. The findings improved on race, at least among men, where blacks were invited to interview for jobs but were more likely to be recommended lower starting salaries by hiring managers than their white counterparts. As explained in the book of Matthew, from those who have little, even more will be given.

It shouldn’t be like this. Congress can make credit scores fairer by doing just two things.

First, the US Congress can restrict the use of credit reports and prohibit them for hiring, promotion, and other non-credit purposes. Work history and performance evaluations, not credit reports, then determine who gets hired and promoted.

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Second, Congress could introduce a public version of consumer credit scores that would compete with secret formulas from private companies. That way, all Americans can have a transparent set of criteria used to assess their ability to pay off debt.

This public option can use cell phone bills, rent payments, bank transactions and cash flow information, and other financial information related to the loan. It can highlight the differences in the results of its scores from the results of private companies and introduce more accountability and competition into the system.

With a public option focused on racial justice, the United States can take a step toward acknowledging that the nation’s history shapes the disadvantages faced by some of its people. William Fair did not want to talk about the legacy of current and past racial discrimination, although he wanted to use race to make decisions. It would be unfair to stop talking about this history, because America’s racial history doesn’t stop talking about us when it comes to credit scores.

Frederick F. Wherry is a professor of sociology at Princeton University and director of the Honor + Credit Network, a partnership between Boston Legal

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