Vancouver woman discovers unpaid parking ticket from 2012 — after hit to her credit score

Vancouver resident Tara Mudray never knew she had a parking ticket from the city until it came back to haunt her credit score six years later.

The city is owed $8 million in unpaid tickets and signed a new collection contract this spring

Tara Mudray says she never saw the ticket from 2012 or received any notices in the mail about it until a collection agency was given her information. (Submitted by Tara Mudray)

Vancouver resident Tara Mudray never knew she had a parking ticket from the city until it came back to haunt her credit score six years later.

She got a notification a few weeks ago from a financial app she uses that her credit score took a hit of 155 points. She was able to trace it back to an unpaid parking ticket from 2012.

"My fundamental beef is just no notice, six years pass, and then I get a collection," she said. "That just seems really ridiculous to me."

Mudray says she has no memory of the ticket or receiving any notices in the mail about it at the time. She's had a few tickets since then and, when she paid those on time, was never told of any outstanding fines.

The fact that the ticket resurfaced after six years and negatively affected her credit score is more upsetting than the $105-or-so fine, she told CBC's Jake Costello.

"The world is kind of build on credit nowadays," she said. " I'm concerned that [my rating] will be scrutinized at a different level. I'm not an easy person to lend to now."

Cracking down

Mudray may not be the only one suddenly being caught out by unpaid tickets from years ago.  

Each year, Vancouver bylaws officers hand out more than 380,000 parking tickets but roughly 20 per cent of those go entirely unpaid.

That works out to be about $8 million in unpaid tickets, the city says, with some individual repeat offenders owing as much as $6,000 each.

This spring, Vancouver signed a contract with a company called Credit Bureau of Canada Collections to help collect outstanding debt. With that contract came a big stack of unpaid parking tickets, stretching back to 2011.

Scott Hannah, the president and CEO of Credit Counselling Society of B.C., said one unpaid parking ticket shouldn't have too big of an impact on someone's credit report — but it depends on their standing.

"If you are a homeowner, and you're paying a mortgage and you're paying it promptly and you put equity in your home, this is unlikely to have serious ramifications for you," he said.

But someone with less job stability or fewer assets or without a longer history of a positive credit rating may have a harder time, Hannah added.

"[Unpaid tickets] can come back to haunt you which is very frustrating,' he said.

To check for unpaid tickets in Vancouver, search a vehicle's licence plate on the city's website or call the ticket inquiry line.

The Credit Counselling Society also recommends getting an annual credit check-up by requesting a free credit report copy with the steps outlined by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Vancouver resident Tara Mudray never knew she had a parking ticket from the city until it came back to haunt her credit score six years later. 7:26

With files from The Early Edition and Jake Costello.

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