Late medical bills can lower credit scores for consumers: How to check and fix …
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When a debt collector goes after you for a late medical bill, your credit can suffer — even if you quickly pay up.

Paid or unpaid, large or small amounts — all can affect a credit score, said Anthony Sprauve, a spokesman for FICO, developer of the most widely used measure of credit risk. Banks and credit card companies use FICO and other credit scores to decide if they’ll lend to you and how much you’ll have to pay to borrow money.

The effect on a credit score can vary, but for any medical collection — paid or unpaid — “a person with a FICO score of 680 will see their score drop between 45 and 65 points. Someone with a FICO score of 780 will see their score drop between 105-125 points,” Sprauve said.

Your credit score is determined by information in your credit report, which you can check for accuracy. Federal law says everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting companies — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

The government-approved site www.annualcreditreport.com tells how to request a free copy of your credit report.

If you find a mistake in your credit report, you can dispute the error with the credit reporting company. The Federal Trade Commission has steps for disputing errors, including a sample dispute letter, on its website.

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Quick ReadLate medical bills can lower credit scores for consumers: How to check and fix your report

When a debt collector goes after you for a late medical bill, your credit can suffer — even if you quickly pay up.

Paid or unpaid, large or small amounts — all can affect a credit score, said Anthony Sprauve, a spokesman for FICO, developer of the most widely used measure of credit risk. Banks and credit card companies use FICO and other credit scores to decide if they’ll lend to you and…

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