Assuming that you pay your bill, cell phone companies do not typically submit reports to credit bureaus. However, the situation can change if you fail to pay your bill. Initially, your provider may contact you directly to resolve the issue, but if all else fails your telephone provider may consider reporting the matter to the credit bureaus.
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the three major entities that compile consumer credit reports in the United States. Credit relationships involve two parties entering into an agreement under which one party borrows something of monetary value from the other party. Service agreements, such as cell phone plans are not regarded as credit agreements because you are paying for something you receive rather than borrowing from your cell phone provider. However, if you fail to pay your bill you become a debtor because your cell phone company has basically extended you credit in the form of a service for which you have not paid. Consequently, your provider may report the debt to one or all of the credit bureaus.
Credit bureaus keep track of payments that are 30, 60, 90 or 120 days past due. Every late payment has a negative effect on your credit score and as your credit score drops you may find it much harder to obtain credit cards, mortgages and other types of loans. Under federal laws, credit bureaus can keep a late payment or other negative credit event on your report for up to seven years. However, credit bureaus tilt scoring toward recent activity, which means that a late payment can becomes less meaningful as the years go by.
Aside from late payments, your past due cell phone bill may eventually appear on your credit report as a charge-off. Accountants use the term charge-off to describe delinquent debts that the creditor has little hope of recapturing. However, the fact that your cell phone provider charges off your bill does not mean that you are relieved of your obligation to settle the debt. Other companies may refuse to provide you with services if you have one or more charged-off accounts on your credit report.
You can undo some of the damage caused by a charged off cell phone bill if you contact your creditor and pay your debt. A record of the event remains on your credit report for up to seven years but other creditors and service providers look more kindly on paid debts than outstanding bills. If your phone company or a debt collector offers you the chance to settle the debt for less than the amount owed you must realize that settled debts are scarcely better than unpaid debts because you have essentially failed to pay what you owe. If you have a legitimate issue with your cell phone company with regard to your bill then contact the firm and resolve the matter. If you simply refuse to pay the bill then you may hurt yourself rather than the service provider because you may limit your future access to credit and services.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
- How to Fix Destroyed Credit
- How Long Can a Disputed Credit Report Item Stay on a Credit Report?
- The Disadvantages of Debt Settlement
- Can Creditors Garnish Wages for Charge-Off Amounts?
- What Debt Doesn't Show on a Credit Report?
- What Happens If I Pay the Creditor & Not the Collection Agency?
- How to Handle Charge-Off Accounts
- Can Going to Consumer Credit Counseling Hurt Your Credit Score?