A recent report from the Urban Institute highlights the lesser-known role that adverse public records may play in holding back a robust economic recovery.
"These records include bankruptcies, civil judgements, and tax liens,” said Laurie Goodman, Co-Director for the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “There are actually about 35 million consumers that are effected, a huge number."
The analysis indicates that the total number of consumers with marks on their record peaked in 2015, and the authors estimate that 22.8 million consumers in 2018 will still have a foreclosure or adverse public record.
Goodman says that these blemishes impact consumers in more ways than just their ability to pursue homeownership.
"This is holding back the economic recovery because the adverse public records actually ding one's credit score," said Goodman. "This also stay on the record for very long periods of time. In many cases these also go into employment records. Many employers will check credit reports, not to find our FICO scores, but rather to see if there are any civil judgements or tax liens places on the report. This will then impact employment decisions."
Further, the report found that low credit scores and long judicial foreclosure processes also effected economic growth.
"In terms of foreclosures, obviously, the long judicial process is a huge negative because it does not allow the housing market to recovery and the borrowers to move on in the same way that a shorter foreclosure process would," said Goodman.
When asked what measures should be pursued to assist these consumers as well as the economy, Goodman said that there were several alternatives that could be explored.
"The negative credit information stays on one's credit record for a long time (somewhere between seven to 10 years in most cases)," said Goodman. "Seeing whether you can get the same predictability on credit scores while allowing for that to stay on the record for a shorter period of time is a study well worth doing. It is also worth thinking about prohibiting the use of credit reports for most employment purposes.”