How the Latest Credit Report Changes Impact Your Score

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Without even having to lift a finger, some consumers will see their credit scores increase starting this month.

These score increases stem from changes in the types of public records that are collected by the three nationwide credit reporting agencies, or CRAs — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

These changes will in turn impact some consumers because the data collected by CRAs go into consumers’ credit reports. And credit scores are based on credit reports.

The changes are part of an initiative by the three nationwide CRAs “to enhance the accuracy of credit report information,” among other aims, according to information released by the Consumer Data Industry Association at the end of June. Basically, some standards for data collection by the CRAs have been raised.

How credit reports are changing

Starting in July, the three nationwide CRAs are excluding all civil judgments and about half of tax liens from credit reports.

Civil judgments are court-ordered debts stemming from civil lawsuits. Tax liens are placed by government agencies on the properties of people with unpaid taxes.

Prior to July, civil judgments and tax liens could appear in credit reports and thus impact credit scores, as we reported in the spring. These types of public records generally impact credit scores negatively, so some consumers stand to see their scores improve.

How credit scores are impacted

The changes in the types of public records collected by the nationwide credit reporting agencies will be applied to the CRAs’ databases in July. Consumers will see any resulting changes to credit reports and scores “soon after,” according to the industry association.

Many consumers’ scores are unlikely to be affected, however. For example, the changes would not affect consumers who did not have any civil judgments or tax liens on their credit reports to begin with.

VantageScore Solutions LLC, the company behind VantageScore credit scores, expects that “slightly over 8 percent” of consumers with a credit score will be affected. On average, the company expects those consumers’ scores to increase by 10 points.

Fair Isaac Corp., the company behind FICO credit scores, expects FICO credit scores will see a “moderate” impact overall.

If you’re unsure whether you are affected by these changes, there’s only one way to find out: Check your credit reports and scores.

Checking your credit

Each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies has its own credit report on you. Federal law requires these CRAs to give you a free copy of your report once a year. You can obtain them at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Free credit reports do not include credit scores, though. CRAs will charge you if you ask them for your scores — but don’t ask them.

Instead, try one of the several ways to get your credit scores for free. Just check out:

How do you feel about civil judgments and some tax liens being removed from credit reports? Sound off below or on Facebook.

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