Hopefully you already know the five factors that can impact your credit: payment history, mix of accounts, amount of debt, history of credit inquiries and the age of your accounts. But did you know some of your other behaviors can have far-reaching consequences as well? It’s true — even your cable bill can come back to haunt you. Here’s a look at five of the lesser-known factors that can affect your credit.
1. Parking Tickets
Parking tickets are one of those things that can easily slip through the cracks. But let those tickets slide for too long, and your credit could get dinged. The ticket could be reduced to judgment, John Heath, a credit expert with Credit.com affiliate Lexington Law, said via email. “The judgment is a public record that can be picked up as a derogatory mark on your credit report.”
2. Credit Report Errors
“Consumers, on average, across all the [credit] agencies have some sort of error on their credit file,” Michael Bruemmer, vice president of consumer protection at Experian, said. Typically, they don’t have a clue about it because they haven’t checked their credit in awhile. (You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) Not sure how to go about disputing any errors you’ve found? This handy guide can help you get started.
3. Applying for Too Much Credit
There’s nothing wrong with shopping around for good credit offers (and some credit scoring models are built to allow for a certain amount of comparison-shopping for a particular type of loan). But apply for too much credit at once and your score could take a nosedive, Bruemmer warned. Some people think adding a new card will increase their credit utilization, or level of debt compared to their credit cards’ available credit limit. But while this is correct in theory, applying for too much credit at once can create several hard inquiries — each application can trigger a credit pull — which can make you look risky in lenders’ eyes.
4. Public School Fees
Failing to pay public school fees for things such as labs, library books, athletics and so on can result in a referral to a collection company, Heath said, so don’t forget to take care of them. If you don’t, and they end up in collections, it can reflect poorly on your credit history and stick with you for years, even after you’ve repaid the debt.
5. Utility Bills
As with parking tickets, not paying your utility bills can also do a number on your credit, Heath said. “These past-due bills can result in a referral to a collection company, which in turn can result in a derogatory mark on your credit report.”