Court Judgments and Credit Reports


Major changes are underway in how public records like court judgments and tax liens are reported to the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. These changes are due in large part to a recent multi-state investigation that found a significant number of errors in the public record information found on consumer credit reports.

The National Consumer Assistance Plan

The National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) is a policy developed by the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—in response to criticism of their practices by 31 state attorneys general over problems with credit reporting accuracy and correction of errors. This plan is part of a settlement designed to improve the accuracy of consumer credit reports and to reduce barriers to the access and dispute processes. Let’s take a closer look at how this plan works and how it affects money judgment holders in California.

Improving Accuracy

The NCAP includes various measures aimed at improving the accuracy of consumer credit reports. To start, it requires the three major bureaus to remove certain types of public records from consumer credit reports if they do not include sufficient identifying information. This includes tax liens and civil judgments that are not associated with an individual’s social security number or date of birth. It also requires any data associated with medical collections or debts older than seven years to be removed from a consumer’s report. These measures help ensure that consumers are only being held accountable for their own debts and activities.

Reducing Barriers

NCAP also makes it easier for consumers to access and dispute information on their credit report in several ways. First, it requires the bureaus to provide free annual copies of each person’s credit report in one place rather than forcing them to request separate copies from each bureau. Additionally, NCAP establishes an online dispute process so that individuals can quickly and easily submit disputes about inaccurate or incomplete information on their report. Finally, it improves communication between creditors and credit bureaus in order to ensure information is accurate before it appears on a consumer’s file.

By removing certain types of public records from consumer files, ensuring easy access and dispute resolution, and improving communication between creditors and bureaus, NCAP helps ensure that all individuals have an accurate representation of their financial history as reported by these organizations. As part of this process, public records will no longer be reported to credit bureaus unless they meet strict data-matching standards. Specifically, public records must include matching social security number, birth date, and other personal identifiers. The end result are higher standards for reporting public records like court judgements and liens to consumer credit reports.

NCAP and California Judgments

The NCAP affects all judgment holders in California. Effective July 1, 2017, Experian, Equifax, and Transunion have begun removing tax liens and civil judgments from credit reports when the information gathered from the courthouse does not include key data elements including social security number and date of birth. This means that most California Court judgments will no longer be automatically reported to the Bureaus because it is very unlikely that information will be found in the record.

However, reporting bad debt is smart business. As Tim Coyle, a senior director for the public records giant LexisNexis Risk Solutions, explained, “Statistically, borrowers with either a tax lien or a court judgment are over five times more likely to default versus borrowers who do not. It’s critical, then, that we do our part to make sure the credit reports of judgment debtors are accurate and reflect this legitimate, yet unpaid, debt.”

When we purchase California court judgments, part of our enforcement process is gathering all of the necessary information that the credit bureaus require and then promptly reporting and following up with each bureau to ensure inclusion. After all, an uncollected court judgment is a legitimate debt that remains unpaid so potential creditors should be made aware of that fact.

Get Help with Your California Judgment

If you have an uncollected court judgment, please read more about how we work here. If you believe your unpaid judgment meets our requirements, please submit your case here for a prompt review. If it qualifies, we may be able to turn your money judgment into cash.