For Chief Tomahawk
WISCONSIN — Educators at the UW-Madison Division of Extension remind area residents that beginning Friday, July 1, there will be several changes to how information appears on credit reports.
“Keeping on top of what’s on your credit report can help you spot errors and possible cases of identity theft,” said a statement from Extension. “Plus, a positive credit history helps you access housing and financial products, and get the best interest rate when applying for loans, insurance, and more.”
Extension said many of the changes are “designed to benefit consumers, and others serve as good prompts for how you shop.”
Buy now, pay later to appear on credit reports
Many online retailers have started offering shoppers the option to pay for their purchases in installments rather than all at once at checkout.
“This option has proven attractive to some consumers because it does not have the finance charges levied by credit cards,” Extension said. “Starting July 1, this Buy It Now, Pay Later (BNPL) activity will begin to show up on credit reports and could impact your credit score, as these BNPL accounts are considered short term loans. term. Even if you repay your BNPL on time, your score could drop as the average age of your overall credit history could decrease. Each time you take on a new credit obligation, it lowers the average age of your credit history.
Most medical debt comes from credit reports
Three major changes that will impact how medical debt appears on credit reports are coming soon.
“Starting July 1, consumers will have one year to resolve billing or insurance issues before unpaid medical debts appear on their credit reports,” Extension said. “Currently, the delay is six months.”
Also from July 1, all medical debts that have been sent to collections and subsequently paid off will no longer appear on credit reports. Starting in 2023, credit bureaus will not report medical debts under $500.00.
“These measures will result in the removal of 70% of medical collection debt from consumer credit reports, providing respite for millions of people carrying over $88 billion in medical debt,” Extension said.
Free credit reports available weekly until December 31
During the pandemic, the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) have gone from each providing a free copy of a consumer’s credit report once a year to once a week. This temporary measure was due to expire in April 2022 but has been extended until the end of the year, until December 31, 2022.
Extension said the fastest way to access your credit report is through www.annualcreditreport.com.
“The secure site allows consumers to complete a short form and request a report from one, two or all three credit bureaus,” Extension said. “By choosing the online option, you can get your report immediately.”
You can also get your report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or mailing a request to Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, Ga., 30348-5281.
Extension noted that if applying by mail, an application form found on the site must be printed, or one can be requested through the Oneida County Extension office.
To receive reminders to check your report three times a year, visit www.bit.ly/3QEqt4G.
Questions or requests for additional information can be directed to Terri Kolb, HDR Educator, at 715-365-2756 or [email protected].