When you get arrested, you may not consider the financial impact your arrest and trial may have on you or a loved one that has posted your bond but bond premiums, court fees, and fines are expensive. But can they affect my credit score?
What Is a Credit Score?
Your credit score is a reflection of your creditworthiness, an assessment that comes from the three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Your creditors―credit card companies, mortgage company, landlord, banks, etc.―report your payment history, credit limits, income, and credit used. It also shows negative information like late payments, charge-offs, collections, and bankruptcies. A score from 580-850 is derived from all of your positive and negative credit information and this is what creditors use to decide whether or not to lend to you and what interest rate they will charge.
How Your Score Can Be Affected By Your Arrest
The fact that you’ve been arrested or have been in jail or prison does not directly affect your credit score. Arrest and prison records do not get reported to the credit reporting agencies so they don’t appear on your credit report. However, there are indirect ways that your score can be impacted.
You don’t pay your fines. If you don’t pay fines and it was a condition of your parole or probation, you could be arrested. However, arresting you is costly so usually, penalties are tacked on for non-payment and if you don’t make arrangements to pay them, your information will be sent to a collections agency who will report your account to the credit reporting agencies. A collection on your credit report can bring your score down a lot.
You don’t pay your bail bond agent. If you don’t pay your bail bond agent, they will impose late fees and will most likely send your account to a collection agency to collect it for them. The collection agency will report to the reporting agencies.
You use a credit card. This will have less of an impact on your score, but if you used a credit card to pay your bail or your bond, it could significantly raise your balance depending on the amount of bail. Your credit report can be impacted negatively if you’ve used too much credit so you have a high credit-to-income ratio but it doesn’t lower your score as much as something like late payments and accounts in collections does.
It’s important to remember that if you use a credit card, you’ll have to begin paying it right away. Your bail amount will be returned to you if you show up for your trial and court appearances, minus court fees and fines, you’ll be paying your credit card company in the meantime. And if you have to serve time in jail, will you be able to keep your job and pay your bills? Additionally, using a credit card to pay bail is considered a cash advance, which is charged a hefty interest rate, often at least 3% higher than your interest rate for purchases.
At Mercy Bail Bonds, we can get you out of jail and back home to your family and/or your job quickly and discreetly and we offer several different payment options. If you’ve been arrested, call Mercy Bail Bonds at (727)856-7775 and talk with one of our dedicated staff who can get the ball rolling on your release from jail. We’re open 24/7 and we always answer.