'Strategic Defaults' Can Damage Credit for Years

August 12, 2010

Home owners who choose to default on their mortgage even though they can afford the monthly payments can expect to take a significant hit to their creditworthiness, some credit rating firms say.

A record of the default - initially as much as 200 points - stays on a credit report for seven years. This will have an impact on the defaulter's ability to get credit of all kinds and potentially his or her ability to buy insurance and even get a job.

The debt that foreclosure erases may be considered income, and Uncle Sam may want to collect taxes.
"It's by no means a move to be undertaken lightly," says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education for Experian.

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