In December of 2018 I paid off over $14k in credit card debt plus an unsecured $7K personal loan - beginning in late January 2019 & mid February 2019 my Equifax score went up from 692 to 718 , my Transunion went from 700 to 711 and my Experian went from 700 to 713. Today (3-4-19) I just checked my scores and my Equifax went down to 704 (-14), my Transunion and Experion both went down to 701(-10 & -12) respectively.
Previously my scores had all be in the mid 650's with each so I was extremely proud of raising my scores over the course of 2018-2019 to all be over 700 - now for reasons that are unexplained my very hard earned scores tanked. I always thought when you go from over 90% utilization to single digit utilization that was what helped improve your scores, but today's new scores seem like a punch in the gut. I had hoped perhaps get a new credit card at my Credit Union with an introductory 0% interest for the first year allowing me to transfer the remaining $4K @25% interest in balances to the zero interest card. I'm no longer sure I will qualify for the 0% card now.
First and most important, you're paying down revolving debt. That's a great thing. Score drops of 12 points or so are not considered to be "tanking" so don't sweat that.
You didn't give your before/after balances/utilization percentages to go along with this $14k paydown, but you suggested later in one of your sentences that you may have gone from maxed out to single-digit utilization. If that is indeed the case, a conservative score gain across FICO 8 scores would likely be to the tune of 50-60 points. On most profiles this would constitute more like 65-75 points and even upwards of near 100 points on some profiles. Basically what I'm saying is that if you're seeing FICO score drops of 10-12 points, it can only be because your new [lower] utilization hasn't reported yet. If it has reported, that would mean another major negative event (like a late payment landing) also happened and the net change between the two events was a slight (say, 12 points) loss.
Credit scores aren't a measure of your financial health, nor are they meant for you.
Those numbers are a measure of risk for a lender, and generally speaking, people who don't have a small amount of active debt and active payments are a higher risk. It's not about you, its about risk in broad statistical patterns -- active input makes those patterns more accurate.
From a perspective that is about you and your financial health, having minimal or no debt at all is good. Congratulaitons, and keep up the good work!
Do you, or did you, have some delinquent accounts that have reported updates that show the debt remains delinquent, and thus have extended the effective period since initial delinquency?