Your credit report contains a detailed list of your financial dealings with creditors, including both secured loans and unsecured loans such as credit cards. Although initiating your cell phone service probably involved a credit check to assure your credit worthiness, your phone contract does not appear on your credit report in optimal situations.
When you contract with service companies for services like a cell phone or electricity, this information is not normally part of your credit report. Although you likely had to sign a contract for your cell phone service for a specific length of time, the company doesn’t report this contract or your positive performance with timely payments.
When you first approach a cell phone company to contract for service, the company might perform a credit check known as a “hard inquiry.” This type of inquiry is typically necessary for a lending decision, and you have to authorize the cell phone company to check your credit report. A hard inquiry results in a slight reduction to your credit score and remains on your report for two years. Eventually, the inquiry drops off your report and your score rebounds. Hard inquiries affect credit slightly, but they do not have the same punch that negative information has.
If you fall behind on your cell phone payments and late payments occur, the cell phone company might report your late or missed payments to the credit bureaus. If your late payments escalate to the point that the cell phone company turns the account over to a collection agency, that information is sent to the credit bureaus and the notation appears in your credit report.
Information about late payments or an account in collection can affect your credit for years. Late payments stay on your credit report for seven years from the date of the first missed payment. If your late payments result in a collection, your credit report shows this escalation for seven years from the date of your initial missed payment. Credit reports list negative information with details that determine the severity of the hit to your credit. For example, one 30-day-late payment notation is not as serious as multiple 90- or 120-day-late payment notations. Older late-payment notations have less bearing on your credit score, especially if evidence shows that you are paying your bills on time at present. A collection notation has a more serious impact on your credit score than late payment notations.
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