Employees, customers with troubled credit can impact your bottom line

On the Money

Credit. Thanks to a deluge of daily advertisements reminding us of the importance of good credit, we’re well aware of the weight our credit scores carry. But did you know that 19 million people in the U.S. are considered “unscorable?” That means 10 million Americans have a thin credit file and another nine million are considered inactive.

Furthermore, there are 26 million Americans without a credit score. Those numbers are startling, especially for business leaders. While the consequences of poor credit for individuals and families can be personally devastating, poor credit among employees and customers puts business productivity and profitability at risk. When poor credit prevents employees and customers from buying a car, renting an apartment or owning a home, job performance and sales become vulnerable.

For those 45 million Americans with troubled credit, and countless others with fair credit longing to see improvement, there’s good news. It is possible to rebuild credit. In fact, many consumers are experiencing dramatic improvement in this area. Paying bills on time, paying off debt, and keeping a watchful eye on credit history are musts. This diligence improves a credit score over time, helping consumers, their employers and the businesses they patronize.

Enrolling in bank products that are monitored by a credit agency can also significantly impact a credit score. When an agency monitors on-time loan payments, the result is often a stronger rating. In fact, up to 77 percent of consumers with low or weak credit scores who have enrolled in a bank product that includes agency monitoring have seen an increase in their scores, with an average jump of 50 points. Consumers with no previous score, using the same credit building product, have seen their scores rocket from zero to 641 points in 12 months.

As leaders, many of us have an opportunity – a responsibility, even – to help our employees, our customers and our communities understand the importance of credit. Helping others take charge of their scores makes a difference for them, and for you!

-Nina Johnson is senior vice president and Community Reinvestment Act officer for Milwaukee-based Guaranty/BestBank.

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