Is Unemployment Public Record?

If you’ve ever claimed unemployment benefits, you may well have wondered whether anyone else – such as potential employers or even friends and family – can find out that you were without work and receiving financial assistance.

The answer to this question is no, with all unemployment benefits kept off public record. There are a few circumstances where this information may be shared, but in general, no one can see if you’re receiving or have received benefits.

Is Unemployment Public Record?
Who Can Find Out?

Before taking a look at who can find out if you’re receiving financial benefits, it’s important to note that members of the public can’t access any records related to your unemployment benefits.

Furthermore, individuals such as your friends and family, as well as potential employers and organizations, aren’t aware of the fact that you’re receiving or have received assistance. Unless, of course, you tell them. 

The major exception to this confidentiality, and the one that typically worries a lot of people, is your previous employers.

They’ll be notified when you apply for unemployment benefits due to the fact your state will need to verify a few details with your previous employer in order for the application to progress. 

These details usually include wages, dates of employment (both start date and end date), and the reason why you’re no longer employed by them. 

In addition to your previous employers, there are a few other exceptional circumstances where someone may see a record of your unemployment benefits.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, state unemployment agencies can only disclose unemployment information in the following circumstances:

Public Officials – if a public official – independent of whether they’re federal, state, or local – needs to access your unemployment history to enforce a law, unemployment agencies will often have to make the records available to them. 

Private Entities (With Your Consent) – so long as they have your written consent, unemployment agencies may disclose your information to a private entity. This private entity isn’t allowed to share your unemployment information with anyone else, and must also pay a fee for the costs associated with the disclosure.  

Subpoenas –  unemployment agencies may receive an official subpoena (a writ ordering testimony) for your unemployment records. In these situations, they must disclose your information. 

Does Unemployment Show Up On Credit Reports?

The simple answer to this question is no. Unemployment and a record of receiving unemployment benefits won’t appear in your credit reports.

You may see a list of previous employers, but your credit report will mainly be full of information received from financial institutions such as banks, debt collection agencies, and credit unions. 

The only public records that may be included in your credit report are bankruptcy filings. This is because they’re of public interest and may be relevant to a lender. Other confidential information like income, bank balances, and marital status aren’t included in your reports. 

It’s worth noting that the “employers” section on your credit report doesn’t represent your entire employment history and will only include the instances where information related to employment was received. This information won’t have any kind of impact on your credit scores.

What Can Unemployment Offices Disclose?

As mentioned earlier, unemployment agencies can only disclose information related to your unemployment history in a few exceptional circumstances. 

In general, however, the unemployment office can’t disclose any information about your employment history whatsoever.

This is because it’s illegal for government agencies to reveal details regarding the unemployment benefits that an individual may have received, or is still receiving. 

Unemployment records aren’t public information, so if an organization or prospective employer wants to find out about the gaps in your employment history, they’ll need to be willing to dig for it. Often, they’ll directly contact previous employers and try to find the information that way.

Can Companies You’re Interviewing With Find Out About Previous Unemployment?

While prospective employers are unable to find out whether you’ve received any unemployment benefits in the past, unexplained gaps on your resume may be a telling sign.

If you’re worried about this, it could be a good idea to be upfront and tell the truth. This way you’ll have nothing to hide and won’t get caught out further down the line.  

For example, many organizations will run employment background checks to see whether your employment history lines up with what’s on your resume and what you’ve disclosed to them.

So, if you’re determined not to reveal your previous unemployment, make sure you’ve prepared a response that explains why you weren’t in work.

How Do You Apply For Unemployment Benefit If You Lose Your Job?

To receive unemployment benefits, you’ll need to file a claim. This can be done with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you previously worked.

Depending on the requirements of the state, claims can be filed in person, online, or by telephone. 

It’s recommended to contact your state’s unemployment insurance program as soon as you can after becoming unemployed.

Just be mindful that when you file a claim, you’ll need to provide certain personal information such as your address and dates of your previous employment. To make sure your claim isn’t delayed, it’s vital to give the complete and correct information.

How Can You Boost Your Credit While Unemployed?

If you’re unemployed and concerned that you may soon begin to fall behind on bill payments, it’s a good idea to contact your creditors and discuss the various relief options that may be available. 

For example, if your credit score takes a dip due to a late or missed payment, you may be able to raise it back up immediately using a tool such as Experian Boost. 

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