Maintaining a good credit score helps your ability to obtain financing for a home or business, but it also impacts many other areas of your life. Your interests rates are higher, insurance rates are higher, and deposits for utilities are higher if your credit score is low. Judgments are one of the factors that can cause your credit score to drop. Judgments are nasty items to have on your credit report as they can cause problems whether or not they are paid.
Adverse public records, which include judgments, tax liens and bankruptcies, are considered when calculating your credit score. The dollar amount of a judgment makes no difference and the mere presence of a judgment can cause your score to drop up to 150 points when they are first reported. There is no exact formula for determining how much your credit score will drop. Each credit reporting agency is different and each individual credit report is different. A basic guideline for calculating credit scores is offered at ficoforums.com. Payment history is 35 percent of your overall score; utilization makes up 30 percent; established history effects 15 percent, inquiries and credit mix are 10 percent each. Judgments would fall into the important category of payment history.
Judgments will stay on your credit report for seven to ten years from the date it was filed, whether you pay it or not. The time frame that it will remain depends on the statute of limitations in your state. Judgments impact your credit the most during the first two years they are reported. They will gradually diminish over time until they fall off after the statute of limitations runs out.
Judgments on your credit report make it very hard to get any other types of loans without massive down payments, huge fees, and maximum interest rates. Once a creditor gets a judgment, they can attach bank accounts, garnish wages, and file liens on any other property you may own, including your home, land, cars and boats.
Removing judgments from your credit score may be possible if you have paid the judgment. They will not come off automatically, but you should contact your creditor and have them file court documents indicating that the judgment is paid and also contact the credit reporting agency on your behalf.
Improving your overall credit is important to your financial well being. You can find law firms and other companies who will help you, for a fee, but you can do it yourself with a little know-how and a bit of patience. You should first order your credit reports from the three reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Next, file a dispute in writing regarding any incorrect or outdated information. You can do this online or through the mail. The agencies have 30 days to respond to your request. You can find more information to help you repair your own credit at Credit Info Center (see Resources below).