Amy Mangan-Fischer, Human Development & Relationships Educator
Staying on top of what’s in your credit report can help you spot errors and possible instances of identity theft. Additionally, a positive credit history helps you access housing and financial products, and to get the best interest rate when applying for loans, insurance, and more. On July 1st changes in the way that information is appearing on credit reports went into effect. Many of these changes are designed to benefit consumers, and others serve as good prompts to be aware of how you are making your purchases.
Amy Mangan-Fischer, Human Development and Relationships Educator, encourages you to learn more about credit scores and credit reports through Extension’s Money Management module, “Explore Credit Scores and Credit Reports.” Money Matters, a program designed to improve your financial habits, can be completed online and includes the optional component of FREE financial coaching with Mangan-Fischer. To receive reminders to check your report three times per year, head to our Check Your Free Credit Report site: https://finances.extension.wisc.edu/programs/check-your-free-credit-report-campaign/.
What changes went into effect on July 1st?
- Buy Now, Pay Later now appears on credit reports Many online retailers have begun offering shoppers the option of paying for their purchases in installments rather than all at once at checkout. This option has proven attractive to some consumers because it comes without the finance charges that are levied by credit cards. This buy now, pay later (BNPL) activity started showing up on credit reports as of July 1st. This change could impact your credit score because these BNPL accounts are considered short-term loans. Even if you pay off your BNPL on time your score could go down because the average age of your overall credit history could decrease. Each time you take on a new credit obligation, that lowers the average age of your credit history.
- Most medical debt off credit reports Three major changes that impact how medical debt appears on credit reports also went into effect on July 1. Consumers will now have one year to resolve billing or insurance issues before unpaid medical debts show up on their credit reports. Previously the period was six months. Also any medical debts that were sent to collections and later paid off, are no longer appearing on credit reports. Starting in 2023, the credit bureaus will not report medical debt under $500. These measures will lead to the removal of 70% of medical collection debt from consumers’ credit reports, providing some respite for the millions of people carrying more than $88 billion in medical debt.
- Free credit reports available weekly through Dec. 31, 2022 During the pandemic, the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) switched from each providing a free copy of a consumer’s credit report once every year to once each week. This temporary measure was set to expire in April 2022 but has been extended through the end of the year, to December 31, 2022. The quickest way to access your report is via the site www.annualcreditreport.com. The secure site allows consumers to complete a short form and request a report from one, two, or all three of the credit bureaus. By choosing the online option you can get your report right away. Other ways to get your report are by phone (1-877-322-8228) or by mailing a request to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. If requesting by mail, you’ll need to print a request form that you can find at the above site.