Unpaid Library Fines, Traffic Tickets, Parking Tickets, Utility Bills And Credit Scores

Paying major credit accounts like credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and auto loans have significant impact on a consumer’s credit scores. This isn’t a mystery or news to most of us. However, what may be news is what other types of credit accounts that if unpaid can have a significant impact on credit scores.

Local Governments Want Paid For Library Book and Parking Ticket Fines
Local governments are determined to recoup some of the greater than $40 billion in unpaid debts consumers owe, including unpaid library fines, parking tickets and traffic penalties. So these governments increasingly turn to private collection agencies, which typically report the unpaid amounts to the credit bureaus as part of their efforts to pressure consumers into paying the fines. The collectors may add late fees or other charges that increase the balance.

Utility Bills Can Be A Major Factor In Dumping Your Credit Score
Another problem area for consumers and their credit scores is with their utility bills. Utility companies have typically not reported credit history for account holders who pay their bills on time. But, if you miss a payment many utility companies report that missed payment to the credit reporting agencies. This missed payment can have negative impacts to the consumer’s credit scores.
Another place where first time home buyers get messed up with their credit reports is when they have been in a rental situation with other renters. Often with young renters, like a group of college kids, everyone goes on the utility bill. What can often get missed is the final payment when everyone moves out.
You may also find a problem on your credit report if you move before everyone else does and your name is still on the utility bill. Until you get your name off the account, you can still be held liable for the bill even if you aren’t living there. That means if payments are slow your credit history could suffer even if you live somewhere else.

Tips For Preserving Your Good Credit Scores

Pay your library fines promptly. Many libraries allow you to review your library record, including unpaid fines, online, and municipalities typically have a Web site or a phone number allowing you to check for traffic or parking fines. Best solution here: mark on your calendar when library books are due and take them back on time. If you are past due – pay the past due amount then so it doesn’t get reported to the credit bureaus.

Do not let a dispute fall through the cracks. If you’re disputing traffic or parking ticket, note the applicable deadlines on your calendar and make sure the issue has been resolved.

Do not move away from a problem. If you plan to move and believe you may have unpaid fines, contact the relevant municipality or library and make sure your account is settled with them. Do not expect a government agency to spend much time trying to track you down; it is much easier for them to turn a delinquent account over to a collection agency, and once that’s happened, your credit score is at risk.

Make your utility bill payments on time.

If you have been in a rental situation with other people, make sure that you get your name off the utility bills as soon as you can when you move to another place. You don’t need any surprises later on due to a missed electric bill payment when you weren’t living there.

If you want more information on factors that affect your credit scores see: Raising Your Credit Scores – 8 Tips.