Will Your Score Soar with Credit Report Changes?

Hundreds of thousands of consumers are about to catch a break on credit scores, possibly adding enough points to qualify for credit cards or loans that had been just out of reach.

That’s because what goes on credit reports is changing — and your credit scores are assembled from what’s on your credit reports.

Here’s what’s changing and how it might affect you.

What’s changing?

Credit bureaus are getting pickier about including two types of public records on credit reports:

  • Tax liens, which relate to unpaid state or federal taxes
  • Civil judgments, which can result from a lawsuit saying you owe money

Until now, the documentation required to put these score-damaging marks on credit reports has been minimal. But starting July 1, the bureaus will handle them differently.

More identifying information: New judgments and liens won’t go on credit reports unless they have a Social Security number or birthdate to go with the consumer’s name and address.

Frequent updates: The bureaus will check for updates or new records at least once every 90 days.

Scrubbing old data: The bureaus will begin to remove previous entries that don’t meet the new standards.

The changes could affect about half of tax liens and almost all civil judgments now on reports, according to the Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade group representing the three major U.S. credit bureaus.

Will it affect you?

Up to 14 million people — 6% to 7% of consumers with FICO scores — will be affected, but most won’t see big jumps.

That’s because public records of lawsuits and tax liens are rarely the only negative marks on an otherwise pristine credit report, says Ethan Dornhelm, vice president for scores and analytics at FICO. They tend to keep company with things like missed payments, accounts in collections and other score-lowering items that will remain on reports.

Dornhelm estimated 92% of people affected by the July changes will have other negatives holding their scores steady.

As for the other 8%? FICO and its competitor, VantageScore, did independent tests on the effect of removing the data and found an average bump of just 10 points.

How can you check your information?

Starting July 1, credit reporting agencies will begin removing previously collected public record data that does not meet the new standards, Consumer Data Industry Association spokesman Bill Mashek said.

With that in mind, August would be a good time to pull your credit reports. You get at least one free copy from each credit bureau every 12 months via AnnualCreditReport.com. If it’s been less than a year since you last requested them, try a source of free credit report information, such as NerdWallet.

Look for a label that says something like “public records” or “derogatory information.” If you find something listed that you think violates the new standards, use the credit bureaus’ dispute process to ask that it be removed. Contact information is on each bureau’s website.

What can you do with a bump in score?

A gift of credit score points can only help, especially if you’ve been on the border of the next score range. Even a small boost could widen your access to credit or improve the interest rates you get.

Have damaged credit? Use those “free” points to kickstart restoring your credit. Build on your momentum with these rock-solid steps:

  • Pay bills on time, every time. Timely payments are the biggest factor in scores. If you’ve had some slip-ups, rest assured that the further a delinquent payment recedes into the past, the less it will hurt your score.
  • Pay balances down. Balances above 30% of your limit can hurt your score. That’s why paying down debt not only eases your financial stress but also helps your score.
  • Keep old credit accounts open unless you have a good reason to close them, such as an annual fee. Closing an account can hurt your score.

Bev O’Shea is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: boshea@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @BeverlyOShea.

The article Will Your Score Soar with Credit Report Changes? originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Need Help Paying for College?

College tuition and expenses continue to rise and many families are looking for funding solutions to finance higher education. Recognizing this need for its customers, Hopewell Federal Credit Union continues to offer a competitive private student loan designed to ease the burden of paying for college. The Hopewell Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan can help pay for all qualified education expenses, including tuition, room and board, books, computers, and even past due tuition bills.

Private student loans are supposed to be used to bridge the funding gap after federal funds have been exhausted. For families confronted with this funding gap, the Hopewell Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan provides an affordable option while promoting responsible repayment habits through a modest monthly in-school payment. To be eligible for the Hopewell Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible school and meet the credit requirements.

Learn more at https://partner.lendkey.com/hopewellfcu/student

How to Take the Heat Off Your Summer Budget

Summertime brings more than sunburns and barbecues — it can also send your monthly expenses through the roof. But with a little work now, you can enjoy the hot season and avoid pinching pennies in the fall.

“Ideally, one saves a little bit of money in each of the cooler months and then spends down those funds in the summer,” says Michael Schupak, founder of Schupak Financial Advisors in West New York, New Jersey. But, if you’ve failed to plan your budget that far ahead, all is not lost.

Saving on travel

Plan vacations wisely, paying for as much as possible in advance. Lodging, transportation and entertainment in many cases are less expensive when booked ahead. And getting started early means there will be less scrambling for money later.

If you’re down to the wire and don’t have enough money for a big trip, visit family who’ll put you up or plan a staycation this year. Crashing on a relative’s couch or being a tourist in your town may not be a dream vacation, but it is still a break and can give you a head start on saving for next year’s trip.

» MORE: 3 ways to save money

Saving while at home

On the homefront, find out if your utility company offers a flat rate plan. This can spread power, heating and cooling costs across 12 equal monthly payments, eliminating spikes on your bill caused by more people, like school-age children, being at home during the day in summer.

Older children home for the summer may spend their days raiding the fridge. Couponing is one way to save on groceries, but it can take a lot of effort to see measurable payoff. Instead, encourage your kids to cook and limit convenience foods — those that are easy to eat mindlessly — on your shopping list.

If you are looking for supervised activities for younger children, an overnight summer camp or full-time day care, generally the most expensive choices, aren’t the only options. If you didn’t budget for these big-ticket items, look for local day camps, which are often run by religious or community organizations and parks departments and are a fraction of the cost of child care.

For next year, Schupak recommends estimating how much expenses climb in the summer and setting aside — through automation, if possible — a portion of each paycheck for a summer fund.

» MORE: How to build a budget

Other tips for cutting summer costs

  • Opt for free or cheap weekend activities
  • Cut out streaming subscriptions
  • Encourage older children to get a summer job for their own spending money

Elizabeth Renter is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ElizabethRenter.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.

The article How to Take the Heat Off Your Summer Budget originally appeared on NerdWallet.

The Lease is Up–Should You Buy the Car?

Your auto lease gives you a right to buy the vehicle for a fixed price at the end of the lease. But should you? If you have less than three months remaining on a lease, now’s the time to decide. So, find your lease and read on.

1. Do you like the car? If it’s performed well with a minimum of unexpected cost and repair, then it might be good to renew the lease.

2. Will it still fit your needs? If you’re driving a 2-door sports coupe but are expecting a baby, you probably need a new car.

3. What is your lease-end buying price? You’ll find the purchase option price in your lease. Let’s assume it’s $14,000.

4. What is your vehicle actually worth? Check websites such as Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and Edmunds.com Let’s assume your highest wholesale value is $15,000.

5. How does your vehicle’s wholesale value compare with its lease value? If it’s higher than the lease value, then it’s a good deal. In our example, your lease says you can buy for $14,000. You’ve confirmed wholesale value is $15,000. You’re buying a car you know and like for $1,000 less than its wholesale value. Buy the car.

6. What if the wholesale value is less than the lease value? If it’s a lot less, don’t buy the car. It doesn’t make sense to buy the car if your lease’s buy-out price is $14,000, and the car’s wholesale value is only $11,000.

7. What’s the bottom line? If your lease car is a good friend, and you can buy it for no more than $1,000 over wholesale value, that’s a smart buy. Your next smart decision is to finance it at Hopewell Federal Credit Union.

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association, Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.