Growing up, I devoured novels at a rate that made library trips the most fiscally-responsible option. Trips to my local bookstore or Barnes & Noble were fewer and far between, but I always kept my trusty library card close by. Unfortunately, this also meant that I had to deal with that pesky little thing fellow bibliophiles know all too well — late fees.
I dreaded late fees. Despised them. Yet, from the tender age of eleven, I also couldn’t seem to get my sh*t together enough to remember the due dates.
My mom quickly clued me in on a minor, often unknown fact of life — at 75 cents to a $1 a pop, library late fees hurt more than your wallet. They also affect your credit score.
“Hey, maybe that’s just one of those little mom lies that are told to get you in line,” I initially thought, forever the idealist. “Maybe it isn’t true?!”
Alas, no dice. My coworker and I just had a chat about it, and, after she had no idea what I was talking about, I Googled it. It’s true; some libraries (especially this one in Queens), flex their muscles to collect those 25 cent fees in the form of sending you to a collection agency. The Queens library in question reported an $11.4 million haul, half of which were from late fees.
So how does the process work? Credit.com gives us the scoop:
“Libraries don’t report directly to credit reporting agencies. However, an increasing number of libraries will turn over unpaid balances to collection agencies, which in turn may report those balances to the major credit reporting agencies. For example, the New York Public Library’s policy says, ‘borrowers with fines or fees of $50 or more are subject to contact from a collection agency. A non-negotiable collection fee will be applied to the account of any borrower who reaches this threshold.’
A collection account can lower your credit score by 25, 50 or even 100 points or more when it shows up on your credit report. Even worse, it can remain on your credit report for up to seven years plus 180 days from the date the bill was due to the original creditor, which means it can affect your credit scores for years to come.”
Get those books in!
Featured image courtesy of Associations Now.