How A Red Light Camera Ticket Can Damage Your Credit Without You Knowing It

An investigation by Fox 4 News in Dallas, Texas has turned up a story that is becoming more and more common as ticket cameras spread across the country.

A Dallas man found the house of his dreams and was ready to buy, but his credit score came back as inadequate.

Here’s the surprising reason why:

Bob needed a score of 700 or higher to get the loan, and had it until ACS, a Dallas based company reported an unpaid collection of $100. “My initial reaction was, ‘What could it be?’” asked Bob. “Who is ACS? I don’t have a single dollar owed to a credit card,” he continued. ACS, Affiliated Computer Services, is the private company the City of Dallas hired to run its red light camera program.

As it turns out, several of the cars used by Bob’s company were in his name. Someone driving one of them got a red light ticket in the spring. He didn’t know about the ticket until the collection showed up on his credit report. He still doesn’t know who was behind the wheel. “Was it an employee that had a ticket in the car that thought they could pay it and didn’t want to tell me about it? I don’t know,” said Bob.

This is a real-life example of a major flaw in red-light camera programs which we outlined in an earlier post, 10 Reasons To Oppose Red-Light Cameras. Ticket recipients are not adequately notified.

And this is not an isolated case.

According to Fox 4 News, in the first 11 months of Dallas’s red light camera program, ACS and the city reported 11,073 unpaid citations to credit bureaus.

How many of those people are unaware of their tickets?

How many people have had their credit damaged because a ticket got lost in the mail or their address was incorrect?

The state of Texas passed a law earlier this year, co-authored by State Sen. John Carona (R), to stop the practice of reporting unpaid camera tickets to credit bureaus, but the city of Dallas has found a loophole:

So why, three months after the law went into effect, is Dallas still reporting people to credit bureaus? City staff says the law applies only to new contracts executed after the law went in to effect. In October, the City of Dallas extended its contract with ACS to 2013. But that doesn’t wash with Senator Carona. “I think it would be offensive to the intent of the law,” said Carona.

Dallas mayor, Tom Leppert, is aware of the process and clearly has no intention of stopping it. Check out this political doublespeak:

“Clearly we’re going to obey the law,” said Dallas Mayor, Tom Leppert. Mayor Leppert says the city will not use a technicality to justify credit reporting. “We’re not going to play loopholes,” said Mayor Leppert. “We want to be fair with the spirit of the law and I agree with the senator there. To be consistent though, we also have to look at what our contractual arrangements are.”

FOX 4 interviewed Mayor Leppert on November 19. So far, the city is still reporting people to credit bureaus for not paying red light tickets. Will that change? Not likely. The mayor’s spokesperson now says there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing, and they’ll keep on reporting.

The politicians in Dallas are saying one thing and doing another. It’s clear that their allegiance is to the ticket camera manufacturer and not their constituents.

Apparently a few bad credit reports for Dallas residents don’t compare to the millions in dollars in revenue that the cameras generate.

We need to put pressure on the city to stop this practice now, not in 2013.


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