Will Civil Judgments Be Reflected On My Credit Report?

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Will Civil Judgments Be Reflected On My Credit Report?


Public record information, such as bankruptcies and tax liens, can often be seriously damaging to credit health, so it's rarely a welcome sight on anyone's report.

Included in the public records category is a group of derogatory marks classified broadly as "judgments." Here, we'll explore civil judgments and their effect on your credit health.

What are civil judgments?

Criminal record information isn't typically included on your credit report, but civil judgments - like the results of a civil lawsuit or a child support case - are often included. Put simply, a civil judgment is a ruling against you in a court of law pertaining to non-criminal matters, often requiring the payment of damages (for instance, if you lost a case or if you failed to respond to a lawsuit at all).

These marks on your credit are not generally reported to credit bureaus directly. Instead, civil judgments are documented in publically available court records, which credit bureaus may review and include on your credit report.

Other than possibly appearing on your credit report, civil judgments may also result in wage garnishment (a legal order to have payments automatically deducted from your paychecks), eviction or a real estate attachment (an order that forces the sale of property in order to repay debts), among other measures.

Why do civil judgments appear on my credit report?

Your credit report is intended to be an account of your outstanding debts and your borrowing history. Civil judgments often result in a debt that lenders and other parties who are legally permitted to review your credit report use to get a more complete understanding of your financial situation.

How could civil judgments affect my credit score?

The inclusion of civil judgment information in a credit file will often cause a more noticeable drop in score than that of a similarly sized loan, for instance. Taking out a new loan signals that a consumer has voluntarily sought out credit and willingly agreed to pay that money back over time.

On the other hand, a judgment is likely perceived as a consequence of prior mistakes, rather than being indicative of financial management. At best, a judgment will be viewed as another obligation that could keep a potential borrower from repaying other items on their credit report, such as credit cards and loans.

Due to this distinction, civil judgments, like other reported public records, are generally considered to be harmful to credit scores and often have an immediate effect at the time of their addition.

How can I get these off my report?

In most cases, removing a civil judgment from your credit report is not a possibility. Most judgments will remain on your credit report for seven years from the filing date, and this timeframe will apply whether you pay off your damages or not. Paying off a civil judgment on time will likely still be beneficial to your credit health, though. If you do so, the status of the judgment on your credit report could be updated to reflect that it's been satisfied. If you leave a judgment unpaid, though, it could potentially be refiled toward the end of the seven-year limit, renewing the negative mark for another seven years.

As is the case with any incorrect information on your report, misplaced or mischaracterized judgments can be disputed directly with the credit bureaus.

Bottom Line

Civil judgments affect your ability to maintain a healthy credit profile. Understanding the origins of these derogatory marks and grasping their implications are important steps in regaining your financial balance.

About the Author: Mike Goldstein is Copywriter at Credit Karma. Since joining the team in June 2013, he's been delivering the financial know-how on the daily. When away from work, you can find Mike watching hockey, Twittering for hours and frequenting trivia nights.

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All Comments

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2 Contributions
15 People Helped

Helpful to 13 out of 14 people

Just because a person is sued, does not mean that the lawsuit is accurate. There was recently an article in the New York Times that talked about how 90% of credit card lawsuits were flawed and innacurate, according to a judge in Brooklyn.  When these misleading alleged lawsuits are challenged in accordance to federal laws, the creditor must now respond with all of the documentation necessary to prove they are abiding by all of the federal laws, and if they can't then the summons may be dismissed. I guess after a judgement is obtained, in most cases at this point it is too late to dispute it, so folks remember to act early. Be proactive with your financial situation. With a summons, you may be able to contact the lender and work out an agreement to satisfy the balance owed, in exchange for a dismissal of the case which could then lead to the negative marks being removed from your credit report. I am not a lawyer, but deal with this type of stuff every day at my job.

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1 Contribution
4 People Helped
Helpful to 4 out of 6 people

It says i have a judgement from december 2012 but i recieved a letter like in January or february of 2013 about if i dont act they were going to garnish my wages. I called right away and was able to pay the debt collector in full. Does that sound right that there was still a judgement put on my credit? 

1 Contribution
11 People Helped

Helpful to 11 out of 13 people

I received a judgement against me and did not know that I had to go to court.

1 Contribution
4 People Helped

Helpful to 4 out of 4 people

I have two judgements from 4 years ago that are listed as "not satified" even though I have paid them both off in full. I was told by a home mortgage broker that any "dispute" on my credit report and I will not be eligible for a home loan...

I called the credit card bank and they said they have absolutely no obligation to report to the credit bureau that the terms have been satisfied so please update the credit bureau's records, even though it was that credit card bank that reported to the bureau in the first place. I spoke with a Trans Union rep that kept saying, "I can file a dispute..." before I finally got through to him that I do not want to file any dispute, it sounded like I need to somehow convince the credit card bank to report to one of the three credit bureaus to update their records, that way I will still not have "disputed" anything, it will be just the bank talking to the bureau...

Is there a resource that I can get in touch with to confirm this is correct, and if the credit card bank has any legal obligation to report to the credit bureau the update??

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1 Contribution
2 People Helped
Helpful to 2 out of 4 people

Send the credit reporting proof it was paid and they will update it.

1 Contribution
4 People Helped

Helpful to 4 out of 5 people

Can the government   take your taXbox check  if you have  a  judgment  against  me?

2 Contributions
1 Person Helped

Helpful to 1 out of 1 people

How or where do fine loans that are on your credit score and you did not apply for the loans?  Please I think someone stole my identity.

1 Contribution
3 People Helped

Helpful to 3 out of 3 people

I have a garnishment and i never recieved a summons, What can I do now?

5 Contributions
1 Person Helped

Helpful to 1 out of 2 people

I am getting emails from scammers claiming to be from payday loan companies saying that I owe money to them. The only payday loans that I applied for was paid off in 2013. I have written proof of that too. I called the companies that are listed in my emails and they told me that I do not have any outstanding loans with them. How do I stop these scammers from sending me emails? I have tried to block the emails and I have not been able to do it. Please help me stop them from harassing me.

2 Contributions
1 Person Helped

i filed bankruptcy in 2010 and got a letter for court for a judgement in the middle of it. my bankruptcy was final before the court date and they even received a  cease and desist (sorry about the spelling) letter from my attourney. this account was included in my bankruptcy and we ended up not having to go to court. my credit report has had a judgement on it for all this time. I contacted my lawyer when i discovered it on my report. he went to court and was granted a motion of stay and they were suppose to take it off my credit report 2 years ago. it is still there haunting me and I don't know what to do. It's not right, and it is making it really hard for me to purchase things. help!! what do i do?? I want to sue them for not complying with a court order. can i even do that or am I screwed?

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

I had a paid judgement on my credit report. Since it was satisfied, I was able to remove it from TransUnion based on innacurate information filed. How do I get the Experian and Equifax to do the same?

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

I have been told that we had a judgement against us by the mortgage lender.  She gave me the info she had on it.  I tried the phone number to get info for payment and phone was disconnected.  So i contacted the county clerk at the courthouse to inquire about it and was told I needed to contact Chase bank.  I asked if she had a number I could call, and she said just to contact CHase no muber listed.  That was over a month ago.  We were on vaction for 2 weeks.  While on vacation I remembered about getting a letter from Chase saying they would forgive that debt and would no longer try and contact me for any payment.  Of course upon returning home I have torn my home office apart trying to locate it.  I cannot.  So, I went down to the courthouse and 3 different people there told me there was no record of it......So, how to I rectify this?  My husband left a message explaining what happened and we have yet to hear a reply.  Where and why did it go?  

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