Banking and your credit score

If reported, a credit line also could affect a credit score as a component of utilization. The FICO score doesn't consider access to more credit "as a negative per se," Paperno says. Rather, the effect depends on whether the total amount of credit is utilized responsibly or maxed out.

Bouncing a check. Writing a check without sufficient funds typically wouldn't be a credit-reporting event. However, if the bank or credit union sends a bad check to a collection agency or tries to recoup the funds through an internal collections process, the account could end up on the consumer's credit report. A collection account is "a serious negative" in terms of the score, Paperno says.

If the bank obtained a court judgment against the consumer over the unpaid amount, that could land on the credit report, too.

Getting a debit card. New rules that change how banks handle debit cards and overdrafts also may prompt some banks to take a greater interest in credit reports, according to Nessa Feddis, vice president and senior counsel at the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. Since banks may not be able to charge the customer a fee if a debit card transaction results in an overdraft, they may be more cautious about handing out debit cards without prior credit checks. Feddis says this scenario is rare but might be on the increase.

"There is a risk, so they're going to look and see," Feddis says.

Applying for credit with a "thin" file. An important exception to the general rule that most basic banking information isn't reported to credit bureaus is the Pay Rent, Build Credit, or PRBC, credit reporting agency, which helps people who haven't obtained or utilized much credit establish a history through nontraditional means such as rent or utility payments. In this program, some banking information might be used to help a consumer document his or her financial position.

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