Credit Authorizer, Checker, and Clerk

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Credit Authorizer, Checker, and Clerk

Education and Training: High school

Salary: Median—$29,058 per year

Employment Outlook: Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

Credit has existed in one form or another for years. In the days of the general store, for example, it made good business sense for the storekeeper to extend credit privileges to customers who would pay in the future. This encouraged purchases by making it more convenient for would-be buyers who did not have the necessary cash on hand. Extending credit still makes good business sense, but deciding which customers are worthy of credit is not as intuitive as it once was. Modern businesses must depend on credit departments or outside credit agencies to help determine who should receive credit and who should not. Credit clerks, credit checkers, and credit authorizers are employed by departments and agencies to get to know customers and evaluate their creditworthiness.

When applying for a credit card, for example, a customer presents his or her personal information to a customer service agent or credit clerk. In some cases, a credit checker is contacted to confirm the information on the application by faxing or calling the applicant's employer and references. A credit checker then may evaluate the information and decides whether credit should be extended. The credit clerk or customer service agent then informs the customer of the decision.

Most credit purchases by existing customers are approved automatically. Sometimes, however, problems arise when accounts are past due or overextended or the amount being charged is unusually large. In these cases the transaction will not go through, and a credit authorizer must be contacted by the credit card holder or a salesperson. These authorizers evaluate the customers' credit records and payment histories and decide whether to approve new charges.

Some businesses that extend credit do not have their own credit investigation staffs. These firms use outside agencies called credit bureaus to do the credit checking. Firms that subscribe to a credit bureau get up-to-the-minute information on an applicant's credit standing by phone or by computer. Credit bureaus keep files on credit customers. Bureaus employ credit analysts and credit checkers who check information on credit applications.

Education and Training Requirements

Most companies prefer to hire high school graduates. English, speech, and business courses are useful. Some college or business courses may be required depending on the area of specialization. Those who have skills in computers anddata processing advance more quickly. Typing skills are necessary for some jobs. New workers receive several weeks of on-the-job training.

Getting the Job

Interested individuals can ask their school placement office about jobs in the credit field. They can check Internet job sites and classified ads of newspapers for job openings. They can also apply directly to credit bureaus and large retail companies that have credit departments. Even if there are no openings at that time, applicants may be considered for future openings. Prospective workers can register with private employment agencies that have job listings in the credit field.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

In 2004 more than sixty-seven thousand people were employed as credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of credit checkers was expected to decline through the year 2014.

The job outlook is affected by changes in the economy. When credit or loans are restricted, job openings become limited. Department stores have also been discontinuing their store credit cards, further decreasing the need for checkers. Automated credit checking systems are also making it possible for customer service representatives to handle the jobs once done by credit checkers. However, openings will still occur to replace credit workers who leave their jobs. An experienced credit checker can advance to a supervisory position.

Working Conditions

Most credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks work thirty-five to forty hours per week in pleasant offices. Those who work for retail stores may be expected to work some evenings and on Saturdays. Some credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks deal with confidential information and should be discreet. Authorizers, checkers, and clerks who deal with the public must be courteous and tactful.

Where to Go for More Information

ACA International (formerly American Collectors Association)
PO Box 390106
Minneapolis, MN 55439
(952) 926-6547

Consumer Data Industry Association
1090 Vermont Ave. NW, Ste. 200
Washington, DC 20005-4905
(202) 371-0910

Credit Research Foundation
8840 Columbia 100 Pkwy.
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 740-5499

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings vary depending on experience, education, and the size and location of the employer. In 2004 the median salary for credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks was $29,058 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Benefits generally include paid vacations, holidays, and health insurance. Checkers in department stores may receive discounts on merchandise.