Massive Database Shares Employment Income on Millions of Americans
Written by: Kristy Welsh
Last Updated: March 17, 2017
Certainly human resources departments have better things to do than verify your employment information for potential employers or creditors, especially within big corporations. But the solution adopted by more than 2,000 employers nationwide may be more than employees bargained for.
What is The Work Number?
The Work Number is a database of employment and salary information created over a decade ago by TALX, a company that became a subsidiary of Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies.
How Do Employers Use This Database?
Employers use The Work Number database as a means of outsourcing the employment and salary verification process. These employers reportedly include two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies and 90 percent of government agencies, many of which allow The Work Number direct access to their payroll systems. So when potential employers need to verify employment and income of current or former employees in any one of these participating companies, they may go through The Work Number database instead of an internal human resources department.
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Who Else Can Access the Information in The Work Number Database?
The information in this database can be sold to mortgage companies, auto lenders, credit card companies, landlords and colleges. Presumably these organizations use this information to target potential borrowers and/or weigh credit risk. Debt collectors can also use The Work Number database, though reportedly only to verify employment, not salary.
How Do I Know If I Am In Database?
You can search The Work Number database for your employer and/or your name at TheWorkNumber.com. There are 190 million employment and salary records in the database, representing more than a third of U.S. adults, so there's a good possibility you could be in it.
Will I Be Notified When Inquiries Are Made to The Work Number Database?
Your consent is required for income verification. This implies, however, that your permission is not required for the divulgence of other employment verification, such as employer name, start date and job title.
How Can I See Information About Me In The Work Number Database?
You are entitled to an Employment Data Report. This not only provides you with all of the information about you included in the database, but also a list of those who have made inquiries. You can request your Employment Data Report through TheWorkNumber.com.