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Always Watching: DFAS Workers Put On Notice, Fired Over Bad Credit

WthrThis is a darned good piece of work -- complete with a twist of bureaucratic irony! -- from the investigative team over at WTHR. You should read/watch it.

"Your credit is supposed to be a private matter. But 13 Investigates found out that the government is using it to fire its workers.

"It's a trend that could trickle down to the private sector. In fact, national experts report a 55-percent increase in employment credit checks over the last five years.

"Eyewitness News met with more than a dozen workers who say they are caught in the downpour of a security clearance assault. A former soldier, a divorced mother of five and a heart attack survivor are among the collateral damage of a post 9/11 policy that puts employees with bad credit on borrowed time.

"Retail spending and medical bills are costing Hoosiers their jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Lawrence. It handles payroll for 5.9 million people and $424 billion in disbursements. According to the United States Department of Defense, employees with delinquent debt over 180 days are considered imminent threats to national security.

"'I couldn't afford to lose my job and I did,' said Thomas Turner. He also asked, 'Why would that [credit] label me as a thief or a criminal or even, God forbid, a terrorist?'

"'I'm a veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm,' said Joseph Rucker. 'I've served 32 years plus. I'm tired of seeing this go on, 'cause they got me on the bubble. I am not Bin Laden or any of those people.'

"But the Defense Department believes these employees are attractive targets for terrorists who are willing to pay top dollar for top secret information. While defense officials wouldn't talk about it on camera, a Pentagon spokesman provided these details:

"'The shake-up began with a presidential order and reclassification of jobs. In March 2005 new background checks got underway, examining 13 different areas, including credit history.'

"Now two years later, workers are experiencing the fallout."

Not to ask a stupid question, but is it logical or relevant to financially profile someone who has a few thousand dollars in medical bills? Just because someone can't make ends meet doesn't mean they're going to steal or take bribes to make up the difference.


That is unbelievable!!! I cannot believe that federal employees can be fired b/c Experian or Equifax give them a bad credit report. Come to think of it, I think there are several members in Congress that will now have to resign their positions.

Absolutely despicable!! It wasn't bad enough when they started showing up on the doorsteps of students because of the library books or internet sites they were accessing. Then there's that whole phone records and cell phone thing. Isn't it time we rose up and said NO MORE!! What's the world coming to when your own government is more of a threat to you than terrorists!

"imminent threats to national security"...given the logic behind this policy, wouldn't most anything taking place in a persons private life that they don't want exposed qualify them as a threat to national security? Will people be fired for having an affair? Will people be fired for viewing pornography in their home? What if they are an "in-the-closet" gay individual?
Is there any evidence (or reason to believe)that a person with personal financial difficulties is more succeptable to bribery than a person in the above circumstances would be succeptable to extortion?
This policy is based on fear, not reason.

"Darned good work" and Sandra Chapman are not together very often

I loved the quotation a the end of Sicko when it was noted that the French government is afraid of its people, but in America we're afraid of the government. When we stand up and stop this invasion into our lives?

Sorry guys - I know I will get alot of flack - but there are statics to back this. I know that bothers most of you, but it is a higher risk.

So - ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL (race, age, expercience, sex, background...ALL THINGS) - You are looking at hiring a gaurd for your seceret stash of millions in your bedroom. Both canidates are equal BUT one has crappy credit and is behind 180 days on a car payment and the other has a 750 credit score and no late pays. Who are you going to hire?

But they're not hiring these people. They already work there and have proven work records. These stats are being used to FIRE them. Is that fair?

I can't imagine that it's legal to hire and fire on the basis of what someone might or might not do in the future. I'm thinking that profiling is illegal and clairvoyance is not a skill currently possessed by employers in any industry, government or not.

The rule is for security clearance you must have good credit with no 180 day + late pays. That is the rule. So yes, it is legal.

Lets see in my job the rule is that I am under a certain weight. So if I gain weight, I should not be fired even though it is the rule?

I don't believe this is anything new. The investigators may be more effective in finding those in violation than in the past.

Another question to consider is whether those same standards are being applied to upper level management also requiring security clearances. Just because upper management may make more doesn't mean they can't find themselves in debt.

I seem to remember that the airlines had weight requirements for cabin stewards at one time and it was challenged in court. Seems like you'd really have to prove that the requirement was necessary to job performance.

"Another question to consider is whether those same standards are being applied to upper level management also requiring security clearances."

If you read the entire report, you'll see that there's a higher-up referenced near the end who's declared bankruptcy but who still has his job.

4:08, if your weight gain equates to a security risk in the eyes of our omnipotent govt overseers, then apparently you would lose your job. Stay on the slimfast. And just b/c it's a "rule", that doesn't mean it's constitutionally sound. If your comment is meant to defend this practice, then your hypothetical needs to be a little more on point.

As crass as it sounds, IF these employees were given warning about such items, and IF their work actually involves the finances of federal employees, as in Ft. Ben, job action is probably warranted.

But I'd think a credit counselling intermediate step would be in order for an employee of a certain seniority. It'd be beeter for morale, and it would potentially help solve the employee's credit problems.

The relevant question is, in the past, how many people who worked for the federal government who have been in debt have subsequently sold secrets to terrorists solely because they were in debt? Has anyone, ever? Is this really a major threat?

Obviously if these people are behind on their personal or medical bills then the pay and medical insurance sucks. My friend got hired their this summer and she was telling me that in this department they are to process 17 claims a day. Her trainer told her group at once you reach the 17 you can pretty much goof off the rest today. She was saying that you can process 17 vouchers within a couple hours. She was pumping out 40 or more of these a day. Her coworkers and even her supervisor started the give her a hard time because she was making them “look bad”. One of the people it’s been there for awhile told her that because of the low wages they choose to do less so of forces them into overtime. What better way to boost your $21,000 to $24,000 annual salary.

I don’t know about you but I’d be more worried about an underpaid employee them one with bad credit for overdue bills. This is not the new, most major corporations do criminal and financial background checks on potential employees. Remember folks it’s the government and they’ll do what they want. Until you more than 50% of eligible voters to vote they’ll walk all over us.

I won't even start on government employees, but those who have always been employees of any type often have little understanding of what it takes to run a business and hire/fire people.

Why do people scream when they are fired but think it's perfectly ok to quit whenever they want... or get upset when they don't get a raise, but never consider taking a pay cut when the company loses money... or gripe about higher insurance premiums when they only pay a fraction of the cost? Too often, employees want only rewards without any of the responsibilities or risks.

Regarding credit checks, I'd be more concerned with someone who has multiple accounts in collections than just a few late payments... and it should absolutely be handled on a case-by-case basis... zero tolerance policies created by the government are nothing but trouble, regardless of what party they come from.

But hey, that's just a small-business perspective... we tend to think differently than those in large institutions!

poor credit makes one a threat to national security?
What about all the soldiers deployed, at a lower pay rate, who have gotten behind in their payments? Are they now a security risk as well?

The way to get people caught up is to terminate their employment, force them int bankruptcy, which raises the interest rates ,which could put more people behind, causing termination,
See the cycle coming up?
(took that from AI)

Good point.
With a military member making a whole lot less than their civilian counterpart, I could see where the members would be more of a risk.
Does that mean they are going to be discharged?
As much as I hate Ch. 13 and disagree with TDW, this is a true dis-service by the Bush administration.
Who ever has NEVER been late with a car payment, visa bill, Dr. bill, or any other bill, please raise your hand!!

Banks have monitored their employees credit for years but employees were told of it at the time they were hired.

"Why do people scream when they are fired but think it's perfectly ok to quit whenever they want... or get upset when they don't get a raise, but never consider taking a pay cut when the company loses money."

Probably the same reasons companies will tell you everything is going groovy then turn around and say on Tuesday "Don't come in until this Friday" to the entire company and then close the doors for good. Or maybe move to Mexico or India in the dead of the night.

"Ve are merely taking steps to protect ze fatherland from the enemies of ze pipple. Zere are threats toour secirity everywhere. Ve must make ze people safe. zay may sell state secrets to ze terrorists"
welcome to AMERIKA! seig heil!
I'm not giggling.
No credit, bad credit; no job, bad job. so how are you supposed to pay off your creditors, or lawyers to file chapter 11 bankruptcy?
Heres an example. I signed a lease for an apartment. Due to Indiana's "At will laws, I couldnt get unemployment, and couldnt find a job right away. I had a plan b, as my new job was unlikely to pay as much. so I went to the Apt mgr, at the end of the month, paid up to date, told them I was leaving town for a new job, and moved out. I cleaned the place- spotless. I was sued in court for "damages" and breaking my lease. they kept my "security deposit", and sued for several months "rent" until the place was allegedly vacant. so because I could not dot the is, and cross the t's, they basically defrauded me, and stole my identity/credit rating, through legal chicanery. My apartment was in a highly full, hard to get into place, due to its proximity to both a colleg, and local large popular night club.
A few years later, I worked for another local business- ditto. ditto. ditto. So I moved to a cheap trailer park( which overlooked the golfcourse_i'd joke). the slumloard would fix the furnace, or water heater. I asked them repeatedly to fix things(it was winter), they didnt, so I "skipped out", owing them the price it would have cost them. a few years ago, I moved into an ok trailer near a job, with a girlfriend. I lost all 3, and the landlord refused to replace a piece of carpet, which he could have gotten dirt cheap at a remanat seller. I wasnt going to pay- he said he would. so I strung him along for a month, and skipped out. he took me to court, and we settled for the 1 month rent. but now I'm stringing himg along, and whenever I see him, I ask- got any carpet.
I send the "credit adjusters" a few cents every few months, so it costs them more to mail my recaipt, or to take me back to court.
Thank god, I haven gotten my legs broken, or had any other accidents, or bills. I haven been able to find any suitable work that I could work for a full shift, due to back problems, and PTSD, which the govt wont pay me for- I'm not scewed up enough, and cant get any painkiller prescriptions for. And most jobs are soo boring, and dont pay anything. I'd have to put a bullet in my head- jobs that bad.
I have been to college. Oh- did I tell you I was lied to by my military recruiters, so My record is marginal, so I cant even get a security cearance anyway? and there just arent any good jobs out there. I couldmake a cardboard sign, and stand out in front ofmalls, and median strips, and beg- then I'd at least be self employed, and add that chapter to bmy book of "Dirty jobs".
I could entitle it "My battle" (notice how I brought this post full circle. My battle in German is "Mein Kampf".
So when it costs us all a wheelbarrow of devalued, worthless dollars to buy fuel, and bread, and rent, and heat( pray you dont need health care, or your job skills/college isnt obsoleted, or shipped overseas); maybe then the people will revolt, and we can "Hold those responsible; accountable" line up by that wall, please.
ps- sorry about the bambi-burger in a can hunting post joke, from another thread.
just using my so-called humor to keep things amusing.
I enjoy your blog! keep up the good work

I don't know about the rest of you, but after I read Roach's comment, I had to take a mental shower.

Was is intended to be sarcasm?

If so, you need a few creative writing classes at IUPUI or something.

If it was true, it's pathetic. And, one question: have you had children?

Roach - maybe you should try your parent's basement?

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