Can public records and judgments affect my credit score?

Your credit score can be affected by a number of factors. This includes past bill payment history, debt, bankruptcy, and even judgments and public records. If you’ve been diligent about paying your bills on time and in full, chances are that you have a good credit score. However, failure to pay bills on time, having debt, and declaring bankruptcy will lower your credit rating, and result in an overall poor financial health.

Factors That Affect Credit Score

To prevent unwanted surprises and to maintain good financial health, it is important to know what affects your credit score. This answer is multi-faceted. First, declaring bankruptcy may significantly lower your credit score. Chapter 1, 11, and 13 bankruptcies will also show up as public record filings on your credit report, and can remain there for 10 years after filing. Charge-off accounts, closed accounts, and collection accounts are additional components of your credit score history. Additionally, hard inquiries, which occur when lenders check your credit upon receipt of an application, will appear on your credit report, and may slightly lower your overall score. Judgments, late payments, and tax liens are other factors that will lower your credit score. Loans – on cars and homes, for instance — affect your credit score, as do the level of debt and length of your credit history. Before applying for a loan, it is a good idea to find out what influences your credit score.

Judgments and Credit Score

Even though law and finance are separate fields, there are instances where they overlap. Many court judgments, for instance, including small claims, civil, and child support, will impact your credit score. With that said, you’re probably wondering “how does a judgment affect credit scores?” When you are involved in a trial at a small claims court and, if the judge rules against you, it is considered a public record. These records are official legal documents drafted and held by government agencies at the local, state, and federal level, and are accessible to the general public. Even if you pay off a record, it can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years. Although these records have a lesser impact on your score over time, their mere presence may be enough to reduce your credit score. Because of the long-lasting adverse impacts of public records and judgments on credit ratings, many legal and financial experts suggest trying to find alternative means of settling disputes before resorting to a court hearing.

Checking Your Credit Score and Report

You can get your credit report and score checked by requesting a copy of your credit report from one, or all three, of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You may submit your request through fax, email, or in writing. It is generally a good idea to ask for copies from all three agencies, so that you can make sure that your personal and financial information on record with all of them is accurate and up to date. This is particularly important if you have recently moved, changed jobs, or been married. Additionally, knowing your current credit standing is important because it allows you to see whether or not your credit score is in good status. If not, you can begin to take steps to improve it. Lastly, you’ll want to get in the habit of checking your credit frequently, as doing so will help you see if any unusual activity is happening within your accounts, which may indicate fraudulent activity.

There are many factors that influence credit rating. Debt, bankruptcy, bill payment, and charge-offs, closed, and collection accounts are all contributing elements. Additionally, public records and judgments may appear on your credit report and stay there for many years. They can also impact your credit score, and experts recommend avoiding litigation whenever possible to mitigate financial damage. Monitoring your past and current credit performance can be accomplished by requesting a copy of your credit report from one of the credit bureaus, and by checking your credit accounts on a regular basis.