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Salary keys: what are they?

There was a time when verification processes relied heavily on salary keys and their kinds. But the world today has moved away from these methods, perhaps due to some setbacks.


To get that loan or pass a job interview, you must go through a verification process. Most entities require a salary key for the process. Theoretically, this code ensures an applicant's information doesn't leak to unintended receivers- only approved employers or lenders can view employment and income information.

While this tool served its purpose during its time, it's no longer effective. Thus, every serious verifier and applicant needs to switch to a modern and more effective verification method.

What's a salary key?

A salary key is a six-digit code that an applicant gives to government agencies, lenders, and employees to review their employment and income information. These entities may use the information to understand the creditworthiness of employees or customers.

The 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act allowed people to enjoy control over their credit reporting and employment information. The main goal was to limit the access to applicants' financial and employment details.

Many industries embraced this legislation, leading to the creation of salary keys and similar functions.

What's the purpose of a salary key code?

Fair Credit Reporting imposes strict rules on the access and use of people's financial data. With salary key codes, applicants can exercise control over who can access their income amounts, tax returns, and other financial information. So these codes help in keeping fraudsters at bay.

Salary keys also allow businesses to enjoy a certain level of protection. You need them if your company utilizes authorization to verify information from job applicants. An employment history check allows the employer to verify the applicant's skills to ensure they fit the role. Who wants to hire a person who has fabricated their work history? No one.

Who asks for salary key codes?

Verifiers are entities that may request a salary key code. They include:

  • Mortgage companies
  • Credit card companies
  • Auto lenders
  • Employers

Some businesses may need to look into a person's data when making hiring decisions. Governments may also request you for a salary key code before offering you social services and grants like:

  • Food stamps
  • Child support
  • Work-force development plans
  • Housing
  • assistance for vulnerable people
  • Medicaid

What information can the verifiers access?

An entity that has your salary key code can learn much about your financial position. It can learn about:

  • Gross income
  • Tax returns
  • Pay rate
  • Bonuses
  • Overtime
  • Commission

How can you get a salary key code?

Going through the Work Number is among the most popular ways of getting a salary key. It's an Equifax's subsidiary. It claims to have the ability to give more than 190 million employment and income records.

When creating the key from their website, you'll have to provide your full name, the entity asking for it, and your Social security number. It's worth noting that:

  • The verifier is not allowed to create the key- only you can do so
  • You can request only one code per each verification. So you'll have to create a key for every company that requests it.

The process varies depending on the vendor, why it's needed, and the middlemen. But here are common steps towards your key:

  1. Visit the company offering the salary key code
  2. Search your company's name on the website, or enter its identifier/ employer code
  3. Create an account or login using your User ID
  4. Generate a key or request one from the website
  5. Give the requesting party your:
  • Salary key code
  • Employer code
  • Social Security Number

If you're a student, use your school code will act in place of your employer code.

Is a salary key code necessary?

There was a time when verification processes relied heavily on salary keys and their kinds. But the world today has moved away from these methods, perhaps due to some setbacks.

A salary key code comes with several risks and extra burden for applicants:

  • Insecurity Loopholes:

It's not a guarantee that these types of verifications will be random— you may end up getting a previously generated code. Well, the probability is minute, but who would want a total stranger to stumble on their financial information? While information like Social Security number can provide an extra layer of protection, the risks may persist.

  • Time-Consuming

The process of applying for the salary key code is often lengthy and stressful. You'll first need to create an account, then generate the key. You'll then send these and other information to the party requesting the key. If the process fails or the receiving party faces challenges with the information, you'll have to start all over again.

Citadel — the best alternative to salary key

Good news! You don't need a salary key code to verify employment and other financial information.

Citadel offers a safer, more affordable, and less time-consuming alternative. Connect your payroll account and share the data with the verifier.

Here are the easy steps towards Citadel solutions:

  • Select your employer and payroll provider

Their system support 35 most common payroll vendors that serve about 85% of the US workforce. And if you don't know your vendor, Citadel makes the step seamless- they've mapped more than 100k companies to their payroll providers.

  • Login to your payroll provider

Sign in with your credentials and going through the security checks. The system takes over and connects you to your data within 30 seconds.

Forgot your username or password? The systems' simple login reset process will take you no more than one minute.

  • Verification complete!

The system accesses and structures the information and displays an easy-to-use format on your Citadel dashboard via API.

With Citadel, you can access over 100 payroll data points to verify employment and income. The billing and pricing are fair and transparent. You only pay for successful connections, and there are no hidden prices. Furthermore, you can start the process and get it done within one minute. You can then send verification requests via text or email.

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