Monday, July 14, 2014

Q&A: When the Yellowstone Supervolcano Erupts, Will My Collections Disappear?

Dear Lee,

I have two collections on my credit report and my credit isn't in good shape. I've been following the recent changes in the yellowstone supervolcano and was wondering, if it erupts what happens to my collections and the credit system as a whole? Will we all be equal then? Will credit scores and reports not exist anymore? I don't live in the midwest so I'd probably survive. I swear this is a serious question and I'm not trying to be funny. 



Let's overlook the astronomical odds against Yellowstone's supervolcano erupting and say, just for the sake of argument, that it blows tomorrow. If that happens, hundreds of thousands of people are going to die almost instantaneously. A large section of the country will be covered in more than a foot of ash and then many more people are going to die from ash inhalation, toxic gases in the air, collapsing roofs, etc. Even the parts of the country that aren't directly affected by the blast will get a dusting of ash. The supervolcano erupting will be the most catastrophic event in our recorded history.

That being said, I can pretty much promise you that your credit scores aren't going to matter once
Afterward, your credit won't matter
Yellowstone goes up in smoke. No one's going to be checking your credit for anything. The extreme loss of real estate due to the volcano is pretty much guaranteed to annihilate the banks and the economy as a whole. Getting a credit card or a mortgage is going to be laughable. These industries will probably fold. Your primary worries will be getting access to food and clean water and protecting your home and goods from desperate refugees.

Don't get me wrong, your collections won't disappear and neither will your credit report. It's just that, when a supervolcano blows and destroys half the country, no one is going to care one way or the other that you let some bills lapse. Its also possible that all credit updates would stop--causing those collections to linger on your now-irrelevant credit report forever and ever amen.

If you made the (wise) decision to pack up your toys and move to another country in the aftermath of the eruption, you still won't have to worry about those pesky collections. Although the same credit bureaus we have in the U.S. also operate in other countries, there is no international credit reporting database. Let's say, for example, that you ran off to Canada or Mexico. You'd still be working with some of the same credit bureaus, but those credit bureaus wouldn't use your U.S. credit report as a foundation. You'd have to build a brand new credit history from scratch no matter where you go.

I have to be honest with you Luke, I read this question and laughed. I was curious, however, as to what "recent events" you were referring to at Yellowstone so I looked it up. And I have to admit, now I'm a little creeped out too. But trust me on this one, when and if the supervolcano goes up, those piddly collections that are dragging down your credit rating aren't going to matter one iota. You'll have much bigger problems to deal with. We all will.

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