- New criteria will strip some negative information from credit reports.
- For those affected, scores could rise by up to 20 points.
- The changes take effect July 1.
Consumers may be a few days away from a higher credit score.
Improved standards for new and existing public records in the databases of the three major credit reporting companies will be implemented on July 1. As part of this change, a majority of civil debts and tax liens will be excluded, which means some credit scores will edge higher.
The new standards follow a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that found problems with credit reporting companies and recommended changes to help consumers.
Altogether, about 7 percent of the population will have a judgment or lien removed from their credit file, according to a report by Fair Isaac. The company calculates and sells FICO scores, one of the most commonly used scores by lenders.
Once that information is stripped out, their numbers could rise by up to 20 points, Fair Isaac said.
"Analyses conducted by the credit reporting agencies and credit score developers FICO and VantageScore show only modest credit scoring impacts," the Consumer Data Industry Association, which represents Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, said in a statement.
Still, credit reporting and scores play a key role in most Americans' daily life. The process can determine the interest rate a consumer is going to pay for credit cards, car loans and mortgages — or whether they will get a loan at all.
In the near term, "it will lower the cost of borrowing," said Andrei Andreev, an adjunct professor of finance at San Diego State University.
For consumers who are not directly affected by the changes, there could be consequences as well. With more borrowers now qualifying for better terms, banks may eventually have to "increase interest rates to compensate for that additional risk," said Thomas Brown, a senior vice president for LexisNexis Risk Solutions. LexisNexis also provides lenders with data to make credit risk decisions on consumer loans.
"What it really means is that there is vital information that is being ignored and the net result will disadvantage the other 93 percent of consumers," Brown said.
"It will take us a little while to know exactly what the overall impact is," said Ofer Mendelevitch, the vice president of data science at online lender LendUp.
For now, by eliminating those large sources of potential for errors, "we think it will represent credit worthiness better," he said. (Incorrect information on a credit report is the top issue reported by consumers, according to the CFPB.)