Your credit report and credit score remain important as you approach preretirement or retirement. Whether you cosign for a child’s or grandchild’s loan, tap your home equity to buy a vacation home, or simply finance the purchase of a new car, you’ll need to have good credit.
Here’s what’s happening in the credit landscape this year that may positively affect your credit score and your potential to borrow money.
1. Credit report errors get easier to fix.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement last March with the three main credit-reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — that will make it easier to fix mistakes in your credit reports. The credit bureaus entered into a similar agreement with another 31 state attorneys general in May.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who spearheaded the effort, said in a statement that the settlement “will help protect consumers from credit reports that are wrong, out of date or even mixed up with someone else’s report, and it will reduce the chance that a consumer is wrongly denied a house loan, a car loan — or even a job — because of an inaccurate credit report.”
The credit bureaus are overhauling the way they handle credit-reporting disputes. Instead of using automated processes to handle all consumer disputes, they will use specially-trained employees to investigate complaints about mistakes in credit reports in instances where consumers provide written documentation about errors. Consumers will also receive additional information from the bureaus after the dispute has been investigated, including a list of options if they aren’t happy with the outcome.
2. More time to resolve medical debt.
Under the terms of the credit bureau settlement, medical debt — a big source of problems for many older Americans — won’t immediately ding your credit reports or hurt your credit score.
Currently, if you are at least 30 days late in paying a bill, it can be reported to the credit bureaus and go on your reports as a delinquency. And this info can stay on your reports for seven years.
But under the new changes gradually going into effect, past-due medical debts won’t be reported to the credit bureaus until after a 180-day waiting period. With this restriction in place, consumers and medical providers will have more time to work out billing disputes or to ensure that insurance payments have been properly applied.
Continue reading Good News for Your Credit Score in 2015 on AARP.org.