A judgment is a court’s final decision regarding a lawsuit. It details the rights and responsibilities of each party. Civil judgments are then entered into the public record.
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If a judgment is entered against you, you are now legally obligated to pay the creditor the amount of the judgment. Leaving a judgment unsatisfied can negatively affect your financial situation further, and can limit your ability to get new credit.
In the past, national consumer reporting agencies (NCRAs) — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — included public records on your credit report. This included judgments, tax liens, and bankruptcies. Having public records reported on your credit history can have adverse implications on your credit.
However, the three major credit bureaus have not reported judgments on your credit file for the last few years. So, this means that a judgment doesn’t directly impact your credit score.
The change in practice resulted from a 2015 settlement agreement between the NCRAs and 30 State Attorneys General. After the settlement, the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) introduced new guidelines to strengthen credit reporting accuracy.
One change under the NCAP restricted which public records the NCRAs could include in its credit reports. Public records can only be included on a credit file if:
- The agency refreshes its data every 90 days, and
- There is enough identifying personal information to match the record to the correct consumer. Identifying personal information includes your name, address, and a Social Security number or birthdate.
For privacy reasons, civil judgments on public records don’t include identifiable information like Social Security numbers, home addresses, and dates of birth.
Following the introduction of the NCAP, civil judgments and tax liens haven’t been included on consumer credit reports since July 2017. Bankruptcies, however, are still included on credit reports.
It’s important to remember that the NCAP isn’t a federal regulation. No federal law prevents judgments from being included in a consumer report.
Additionally, only Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion agreed to leave judgments off of credit reports. Judgments and liens may still appear on consumer reports that other agencies produce.
A judgment doesn’t affect your credit report directly. However, your credit has likely been affected in the time leading up to having a judgment filed against you.
Additionally, creditors routinely report data, like late payments, delinquencies, and defaults, to the credit bureaus. These negative marks are included on your report and lower your credit score.
Ignoring a judgment can have long-term effects. Without satisfaction of judgment, creditors can legally pursue other debt collection methods. Some of these tactics include freezing your bank accounts and wage garnishment. While the judgment remains unpaid, interest accrues daily, increasing your total debt owed.
An unpaid judgment can also limit access to opening new credit accounts, like a credit card or car loan. Lenders can check the public record for unsatisfied judgments and liens, which might affect your approval.
How long a judgment is enforceable depends on the judgment type and classification. The timeline for a judgment also varies by the state jurisdiction that issued the judgment.
- Satisfied judgment: A satisfaction of judgment means the debt is fully paid.
- Unsatisfied judgment: An unpaid judgment.
- Default judgment: A judgment in favor of the plaintiff if a defendant doesn’t respond to a court summons or appear in court.
- Vacated judgment: A judgment that a court dismisses due to an error obtaining the judgment.’
- Summary judgment: A judgment from a lawsuit that didn’t undergo a trial.
- Renewed judgment: A judgment that’s renewed to collect the unpaid debt.
Judgments can either be a money or non-monetary judgment. Money judgments require you to pay the creditor a specific sum of money. Non-monetary judgments need you to do or stop doing an action or behavior.
Each state sets its own statute of limitations for different types of judgments, including money judgments. A statute of limitations is the duration a judgment is active and enforceable.
In Oregon, the statute of limitations for money judgments is ten years after it’s entered. For comparison, money judgments can be executed in Alabama for 20 years.
Although judgments don’t show up on your reports, it’s good practice to check your report routinely. You might find credit reporting errors that are dragging down your credit. This can include closed accounts marked as open, duplicated debts, identity theft flags, and more.
Request a free credit report from each national credit bureau at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review your credit report at least once a year to spot these errors.
If you find an error, contact the credit bureau directly to dispute it. You can call their support phone number, mail a dispute, or file it online.
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
A judgment won’t appear on your credit report, but it can still affect you in meaningful ways. Managing your finances responsibly is one way to avoid judgments in the future. But if you’re already dealing with a debt collection judgment, seek legal advice from a debt relief attorney to learn about your options to resolve the outstanding debt and eliminate the judgment.
Whether you’re struggling with paying a judgment or want to know your rights, the experienced debt relief professionals at Tayne Law Group may offer valuable guidance on dealing with your debt, whether business or personal debt like credit cards or student loans. Call today for a free, no-obligation phone consultation at (866) 890-7337 or fill out our short contact form. Your information will never be sold, and all conversations are confidential.