Surprising Things that Can Damage Your Credit Score

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shutterstock_107259608You’re on top of all of your debt payments, you don’t carry a huge balance on your credit cards, and you always pay your bills on time – your credit score is golden, right?

What about the time you went in to see a doctor for that sinus infection? Or that ticket you got from the meter maid when you parked in a restricted zone? How about that cell phone line you closed a few years ago?

You probably know how on-time payments, a good debt-to-credit ratio, and proper debt management can positively boost your credit. But there are also a few unusual, surprising things that can impact and even damage your credit score:

  • Your unpaid parking ticket. An unpaid parking ticket is just like any other bill. If you don’t pay it, you’ll likely receive a warning and be charged late fees until it’s paid. If you continue to ignore your bill, it will likely be turned over to a collection agency – and a bill listed as an unpaid collection could have a nasty impact on your credit score. If you received a collection notice in the mail or you noticed an unpaid bill under the “derogatory marks” on your credit report, try to pay off that bill as quickly as possible. If you think it was a mistake or you already paid that bill, you may want to considering contacting the collections agency to dispute the mark.
  • That medical bill you forgot about. It’s sometimes easy to forget that insurance doesn’t cover everything. A trip to the doctor or dentist (or a more expensive trip to the emergency room) could mean you owe some money; your health or dental insurance may not have covered the entire cost of your procedure. If you received a letter or bill in the mail from a medical practitioner, don’t just assume it was junk. Be sure to open up any statements from your medical providers so you are aware of any outstanding balance. If you’re unsure if you owe them money, call your doctor or dentist. It’s better to be safe than sorry; just like an unpaid parking ticket, an unpaid medical bill could be sent to collections and hurt your credit score.
  • Your “closed” cell phone account. Whether it’s a cell phone or a credit card account with an outstanding balance, if you’re closing any type of account, be sure to make sure it actually ends up closed. A cell phone company or other service provider can easily claim to have closed your account and then forget to dot all of their i’s and cross their t’s. Since even cell phone providers are prone to errors, it’s important to ensure that they do their job and that your account is completely closed after a few months. The company could be charging you for an account that’s still open in your name without you realizing it. And if you’re being billed without knowing it, you’re probably not paying your bill either – and any outstanding bill can end up at a collection agency.