Thanks to new rules, millions of consumers will see a boost to their credit scores

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If you’ve been toiling with a low credit score due to a tax lien, civil judgment, or similar negative item being reported, you’re in store for some good news coming very soon. Starting this summer, millions of Americans will be getting a credit score boost even if they haven’t paid down debt or don’t anything else to cause the increase. That’s because Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are changing their rules on reporting when it comes to serious tax liens, civil judgments, and other reported items, resulting in a score increase for many consumers.

Starting July 1, 2017, tax liens and civil judgment data will adhere to new rules when it comes to reporting by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. After that date, reported accounts that don’t have the consumer’s complete data won’t be reportable by the credit bureaus.

Under the new rules, if a tax lien or civil judgment doesn’t have the complete full name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number of the consumer, the credit bureaus will remove these items from credit reports. The Consumer Data Industry Association, or CDIA, the trade organization that represents Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, reports that the nation’s three largest credit bureaus have voluntarily agreed to remove any tax liens or civil judgments that are missing complete information.

Frequently, the credit bureaus don’t include the complete data on account holders with liens and judgments because information is irrelevant or coded, such as the case with Social Security numbers, which are redacted for security reasons.

Still, the three major credit bureaus are tasked with trying to report complete and accurate credit history for each consumer, which banks, financial institutions, and other lenders use to make decisions on new loans and rates.

“Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion continually seek ways to ensure the data they maintain on their consumer credit files is accurate and current to best serve consumers and the needs of their business and government customers,” said CDIA President and CEO Eric Ellman in a statement.

The new reporting stipulations could positively affect up to 12 million Americans, dramatically increasing their FICO scores once those negative accounts are no longer listed. With the disappearance of these negative items from their credit reports, consumers who are affected can expect to see a boost of 20 points or so, while about 700,000 are expected to enjoy a credit score bump of 40 points or more.

Industry experts point to the fact that a 20-40 point jump in credit score will make a huge difference when these people go to shop for financial products.

Your credit score can affect interest rates, payments, and approval on credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, installment loans, business loans, insurance products, renting a house or apartment, and even landing a job in financial services or with a company that checks employee credit.

The savings, therefore, could be monumental with a 20-40 bump in score, potentially saving each consumer tens of thousands –if not hundreds of thousands – of dollars in interest and payments on loans.

Not only will these new reporting rules retroactively erase these items from millions of credit reports, but it will impact how new liens and judgments are reported – or not – going forward.

“Some creditors may have liked having inaccurate credit reports, as long as they were skewed in their favor,” says Edmund Mierzwinski, director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “That’s not the way the system is supposed to work. This action is just one more proof that the CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] works, and works well.

The most common tax liens include state and Federal liens issued by the IRS. Civil judgments often come in the form of wage garnishments, child support and alimony judgments, landlord judgments, and other civil court rulings for damages.

Of course, it’s important to note that just because the three credit bureaus stop reporting your tax liens and civil judgments, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Consumers will still owe those sums to the IRS, government, courts, or whomever originally doled out the debt.

Also, industry experts point out that the changes may not be permanent, as the credit reporting bureaus may look to use an enhanced method of reporting that supplies all of the complete information on consumers. If and when that happens, the tax lien or civil judgment will show up on the credit report again, sinking their score that 20-40 points they originally gained, and possibly even more.

Lenders and banks will have one less important resource to gauge a consumer’s creditworthiness, but they can still legally check public records and other sources to find the liens and judgments that are missing from credit reports.

But at least these 12 million patrons will get a reprise from the damage it’s inflicting on their credit scores.


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