Just as filing bankruptcy can hurt your credit score, so too can judgments against your credit card account. A judgment is a decision made by a court when a bill goes unpaid. If the money you owe is past due, and all other actions by the company to whom you owe the money have been exhausted, the court will make a determination and declare you liable. A judgment can lower your credit score significantly. Furthermore, if you apply for credit in the future, the creditor will check your credit report and likely decide not to grant you credit because you have an unpaid debt listed there. This information can remain on your report for ten years, the same duration as that of bankruptcy filings.
Needless to say, this can have a detrimental effect on your chances of getting a mortgage, buying a car or any qualifying for any other type of loan or credit. The odds increase substantially that you'll be turned down. This is why it's of the utmost importance to check your credit report annually. If there are any unpaid or open debts that resulted in a judgment being filed against you, it's recommended that you pay the bill as soon as possible and then have it expunged from your credit report. Additionally, if you find there's a judgment on your report that may be incorrect, you can dispute it accordingly. Note also that under law, if there can be no verification of the debt by the credit bureaus, a judgment must be removed from the report.
Whenever you have unpaid bills, it's a prudent course of action to contact the company owed and discuss payment options before it progresses to a judgment on your credit report. If the judgment has already been placed, however, it still may be possible for you to make an arrangement with the creditor. Once the bill has been paid, they may agree to vacate the judgment. To do this, they must simply state to the court that the judgment has been satisfied. It can then be removed from your credit report. Therefore, if you have a judgment on your credit report, contact the clerk of the court of the county where the judgment originated to determine the best method to obtain the necessary information about the creditor. Then, contact the creditor, pay the bill, and seek removal of the judgment.
If, in the worse-case scenario, you're not successful in removing the judgment from your credit report, the most fool-proof process by which you can repair your credit will probably entail applying for a secured credit card. Once you've shown that you can pay the bills on time and don't overextend your credit, you can convert the secured card to an unsecured credit card.
Judgments on credit cards, like bankruptcy, take a heavy toll on your credit score – in addition to prohibiting you from most, if not all, future credit. Check your credit report periodically, pay your bills on time and act expeditiously if any judgments have been declared against you.