Some people may see a leap in their credit score come July. But why?
In March, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - the three major credit reporting agencies that supply most of America’s credit scores - agreed to remove certain tax lien and civil judgment data from credit reports, effective July 1st.
For some consumers, this means they could expect to see a boost in their credit score in the near future. So what exactly does this mean and how might it affect you?
We’ve answered some common FAQs to help you understand how this might affect your credit opportunities.
What are tax liens and civil judgments?
A tax lien, or obligation, is levied against a property when the owner is delinquent on payment of taxes. Civil judgments — debts owed by the losing party in legal disputes that typically involve monetary damages — are ordered by courts. Civil judgments include cases in which collection firms take borrowers to court over an unpaid debt.
These kinds of penalties happen more easily than one might think. For example, something as ordinary as an overdue gym membership debt can be sold to a collections agency, resulting in a major knock to your credit score.
How do tax liens and civil judgments affect my credit score?
Both tax liens and civil judgments hurt credit scores when they remain in a person’s credit file for extended periods. Like any inaccurate or misleading information on credit reports, this can derail consumers from accessing credit, and could even lead to other personal and detrimental setbacks, like not being able to rent an apartment or even get a job.
This change represents a big step toward expanding access to credit in America. For any single individual loan applicant, this change will provide an extra chance to potentially improve their credit scores and overall financial health.
What does this new agreement really mean for my credit score?
What this means is that this information- either a tax lien or a civil judgment - will be removed from your credit report if it doesn’t include three of the following four personal details about you, the borrower: name, address, Social Security number, or date of birth.
Many liens and most judgments don’t include all three or four, which means that nearly all judgments and about half of tax liens will be removed from credit reports, according to Lexis Nexis. This means that 12 million Americans could see their scores increase by 20 to 40 points and another 700,000 could see their scores rise more than 40 points – that’s no small change.
Eligible liens and judgements that are outdated (i.e., not updated every 90 days using public court records) will also be removed, but lenders will still be able to check public records on their own to find this information if they look for it.
Is it common for people to have incorrect information in their credit reports?
Yes. according to a 2013 Federal Trade Commission study mandated by Congress, one in five consumers have an error in at least one of their three major credit reports,. The three credit bureaus received around 8 million requests disputing information on credit reports in 2011, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
What should I do if I think there’s an error in my credit report?
If you believe you have inaccuracies on your credit report, you can dispute errors with each of the three main credit bureaus by going to their websites to find more information (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian). By law, the bureaus must respond to your inquiry, investigate your claim in a timely fashion, and then provide you an update on the resolution. If you need professional help disputing any errors, you can also consider credit repair services.
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