Credit report policy change may raise your score

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More information and updates are being required for civil actions and tax liens

Congratulations, your credit score may go up this weekend, and you didn't have to do a thing.

On July 1, all three credit reporting bureaus -- TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – are establishing a set of policy changes that will almost certainly raise millions of credit scores. The policy change requires more information, as well as more frequent updates. The credit bureaus expect that will mean all civil judgments and about half of all tax liens will disappear from consumers' credit reports.

In a report, personal finance site WalletHub dug deeper into what it all means. First, there are likely to be fewer credit report errors.

Starting Saturday, records of civil judgments and tax liens that go into credit reports must have the individual's name, address, and Social Security number. In addition, the information must be updated every 90 days.

Fewer errors

Very often a consumer's credit score is dragged lower because his or her report contains negative information that belongs to someone else. This change is designed to reduce that likelihood. If you fit into this category, the WalletHub report predicts your Vantage Score will rise an average of 10 points and your FICO Score will go up an average of 20 points.

"Every piece of negative information that falls off your credit reports is good for your credit score," the authors write. "So we definitely recommend reviewing your credit reports on a regular basis, both to confirm the removal of problematic public records and to make sure no other mistakes wind up costing you money."

The reason this is important is civil judgments and tax leins make a lender less likely to loan you money, or reduces the amount they are willing to lend. A civil judgment means you've lost a lawsuit and have to pay the plaintiff, meaning you have less income. A tax lien tells a lender that you have to pay the government back before you pay anyone else.

The report estimates that as many as 9% of consumers with a credit report will see their credit scores rise as a result of the policy change.

Other ways to raise your score

If you want to raise your credit score, here are some other steps to take:

  • Pay every bill on time, every month. This simple step provides more bang for the buck than anything else you can do.
  • Reduce the amount of debt you have in relation to available credit. That means if you have a credit card with a $5,000 credit limit and you are carrying a $4,500 balance, your score will rise if you can pay down the balance to $2,500.
  • Be careful about opening new credit accounts. When you add a credit account, it can lower your score, at least temporarily.

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