John Ulzheimer, president of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft.
Formerly with FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, Elzheimer is a rare editorial source -- a recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.
He often references in his writings the "Seven FICO Deadlies," credit score deflating actions, but only recently identified them in one consolidated list.
Your credit score, from about 350 (poor) to 800 (excellent) is a numerical rendition of your credit report. The higher your score, the more likely you'll get approved for credit and the more likely you'll get the best rate and terms. Negative actions posted to your credit report, take a bite out of your credit score.
Here's what Ulzheimer says are the seven worst things you can do to your credit score. And speaking of "seven," that's how many years these black marks can stay on your credit report.
• Deadbeat behavior. Frequent, significant and late payments 30 days, 60 days, 90 days late. Don't believe a 30-day-late payment won't hurt. It may not ruin your credit but it's not helpful and can remain on your report for years.
• Collection activity. When the lender gets tired of your deadbeat behavior it will call out the dogs -- a third-party collection agency. The collection agency will report collection activity to the credit bureaus and again, seven years of bad luck.
• Charge offs. If the lender gives up on your collection case, acknowledging you'll never pay the bill, it charges off the debt and puts your credit report on notice for seven years.
• Public recordings. Bankruptcy, tax liens, judgments and the like are killers for your credit rating. Judgments are good (or, from your viewpoint, bad) for seven years, even if you pay them off. Bankruptcies can dog your credit report for 10 years and unpaid tax liens never go away.
• Settlements. If you pay a portion of a debt to your lender in a settlement, say a some of the mortgage in a short sale, you can get a settlement notice on your credit report card for seven years. Credit cards and other debts, likewise can be settled, with negative impact to your credit report.
• Foreclosures. If you can't or won't pay your mortgage the lender will eventually foreclose and relieve you of your home. Another seven year negative notification will drag down your score. The same applies when you give the home to the lender in a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
• Repossession – When you don't pay your vehicle loans a bounty hunter will be coming your way. He or she is not coming after you, but your vehicle, and that's often without notice, after you've been dunned for a while. It's all legal. The repo man can take your property down and your credit score will follow.
Broderick Perkins Realty Times May 19, 2011