Did you hear about the woman in Beloit, Wisconsin who served six days of jail time for failing to return her library books? She was pulled over for something non-library related, but the police saw she had a warrant and arrested her. The library had issued three overdue notices and a following citation when she didn't respond to the notices, but the woman claimed she never got anything because she was in the middle of moving. This story got me thinking about what other effects overdue library books might have, like whether or not it could mess with your credit score. To find out just read more
According to the New York Times, libraries are treating borrowed materials as debts if they've issued a bill to the patron. The Queens Public Library is one example of a library who takes their late fees seriously — it has used Unique Management Services to report late fees to credit bureaus. The Times article explains that it's not clear how many people are actually reported to credit agencies, but Experian and TransUnion (two national credit bureaus) accept reports from Unique. According to spokesmen for those companies, they'll only include debts of more than $50 on consumers' credit reports.
A spokesman for Unique said that fewer than 10 percent of the library patrons contacted by Unique are actually reported to the credit bureaus. He added a reassuring note that even if a library debt is reported, once you pay the debt it typically has "minimal to zero influence on a person's credit rating."