Unpaid traffic tickets might not seem like a big deal, but there can be serious consequences. Unpaid traffic and parking tickets often end up going to collection agencies, and that can put a significant dent in your credit score. If you continue to ignore a ticket once it’s in a collection agency’s hands, not only do you run the risk of getting your vehicle booted, your registration rejected, and your license suspended, but you could also lose serious points from your score. In addition, these collection accounts stay on your credit report for seven years.

Credit scores are calculated using different pieces of credit data. Two of the most critical pieces of data are the amount you owe (30%) and your payment history (35%). A minor ticket left unpaid and racking up fines can end up affecting your score as much as more serious types of debt.

As a result, the next time you apply for an auto, mortgage, or other type of loan, you could face higher interest rates or rejection—even if your credit was formerly spotless.

According to the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), someone with a 680 credit score could lose about 50 points from the addition of a collection related to unpaid traffic or parking tickets. And someone with a 780 score could lower the score by as much as 105 or 125 points.

The best way to protect your credit score? Don’t write off those tickets. Even if you think you can get away with not paying them, the consequences for your credit score could be much more costly in the long run.

If you have questions about understanding or improving your credit score, feel free to reach out to our team. We can provide strategies and advice to help you get your credit score back in good shape.