How can the simple act of moving affect your credit score? It's simpler than you think. Even if you forward your mail to your new address, bills -- including utility bills -- can and often do get lost in the shuffle. "Suddenly, someone who's never been late has a collections account reported to the bureaus and the damage would be just as severe as with a delinquency," Watts says. "A $5 library fine could suddenly lower someone's score by dozens of points."
The bad news: You'd think a collections agency would call you about that unpaid bill before reporting it to the bureaus, but that's not always the case, says Credit.com's Ulzheimer. "They'll take the lower-dollar collections accounts and just report them to the bureaus without even contacting the consumer," he explains. "It's easier to report to the bureau rather than wasting time trying to collect $80." Then when you try to buy a house or car and get denied because of the collections account, you'd have to track down the agency yourself and pay up. An efficient business model, to be sure, and all the more reason to be vigilant about paying your bills.
This did happen to me and dh when we moved to our new house and now we have a late on our credit reports from SHell of all people because our bill got lost in the mail, the account was zero, but they charged us an annual fee and we didn't get the mail until a month or so later in our forwarded mail.