Can unpaid parking tickets hurt a credit score?

Those who often park in a private lot have likely forgotten to pay once or twice, only to find a parking ticket waiting for them when they get back to their car. But can these tickets end up affecting one’s credit report?

The short answer is no. Unlike utility companies or credit cards, drivers who park their cars don’t enter into a legally binding contract with the lot operator. That’s not to say they aren’t required to pay to park. But if a parking lot operator is determined to collect, they might make some misleading statements.

Liza Mulholland told CTV that she was recently given a $100 bill as a late fee on a $30 ticket, which she says she never received. In the letter attached to the bill, the company that owns the lot said that if she didn’t pay up, her credit report would suffer.

In all but the rarest of circumstances, this is not the case. First and foremost, a parking lot must post clear signage that states that a driver agrees to pay a higher fine in the event of a missed payment before charging any “late fee.” Secondly, the three major credit bureaus don’t accept private operators like parking lots as a legitimate source of information, so a missed parking ticket would never show up on a credit report.

In a worst case scenario, the parking lot operator would have to take the driver to court, win, and the driver would still have to refuse to pay. Then they would be in breach of the court ruling and likely see that show up on their credit report. Since that’s unlikely to happen over a $30 parking ticket, drivers with a bad credit history don’t have to worry about parking tickets as a source of frustration.