Millions of Consumers Getting a Credit Score Boost

An overhaul in how several major credit reporting agencies factor in negative credit information is prompting millions of consumers’ credit scores to rise. Collection events were struck from 8 million consumers’ credit reports in the 12 months ending in June. The New York Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that consumers who had at least one collections account removed from their credit reports are seeing an 11-point increase to their scores.

Critics have long claimed such dings to scores are prone to errors or that they’ve unfairly kept many out of the borrowing market. Equifax, Experian PLC, and TransUnion have all agreed to revamp reports, which stems from a 2015 settlement with state attorneys general on the matter. In the settlement, the firms agreed to remove some non-loan related items that were sent to collection firms, such as gym memberships, library fines, and traffic tickets. They also agreed to strike medical-debt collections that have been paid by a patient’s insurance company.

The majority of consumers who benefited from the recent changes are those who had credit scores below 660 before the collection events were removed, according to the New York Fed.

This could be good news for potential home buyers, as better credit scores are a big factor lenders use in granting cheaper rates for mortgages. And relatively small shifts in scores can make a big difference on loan affordability. A recent study from LendingTree showed that consumers who can raise their credit scores from “fair” (580-669) to “very good” (740-799) could potentially save $29,106 in mortgage costs.

Source: “Overhaul Boosts Credit Scores of Millions of U.S. Consumers,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 15, 2018)

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