It can seem like everyone needs to check your credit score these days. Whether you’re buying a home, shopping for car insurance or looking for a job, there’s a good chance that someone will check your credit history. If there are derogatory remarks, it can have a negative impact on your life and your wallet. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get those remarks removed.
While you won't be able to remove any current and accurate negative information on your credit report, you can file a dispute to get errors and out-of-date information taken off the report.
If you suspect there is damaging information on your credit report, the first step is to obtain copies of your report from the three major credit bureaus: Experian®, TransUnion® and Equifax®. You are entitled to one free report from each agency per year. You can obtain your free report from annualcreditreport.com. You can also purchase a copy directly from the credit bureau.
Once you have your credit reports, review each one carefully for errors. If you find an error, you can dispute it with the credit bureau. To do this, write a letter outlining the error and indicate why it’s incorrect. Mail it to the credit bureau and keep a copy for your records. You may want to use certified mail with a return receipt so you can confirm they received your letter. Credit bureaus are required to investigate items you dispute and let you know the results of their investigation. If the dispute results in a positive change, they are required to provide you with another free copy of your credit report so you can confirm that it’s now accurate.
You should also contact the company that’s reporting the incorrect information. Let them know that you dispute the information and provide documentation to support your claim. The reporting company is required to correct any errors with the credit bureaus and to let the credit bureaus know that you are disputing information.
Removing Outdated Information
There is a limit to how long negative information can stay on your credit report. Most negative information can remain on your credit report for up to seven years from when the event took place. Bankruptcies can be reported on your credit report for up to 10 years. If you notice that there is outdated information on your credit report, dispute the information with both the credit bureau and the reporting company. If they refuse to remove the information from your credit report, you may want to contact an attorney who specializes in consumer law.
Removing Negative Information
If the negative information on your credit report is accurate and timely, there isn’t a way to remove it. You will need to wait for it to "fall off" your report due to age. In the meantime, you can take steps to improve your credit. You can open a low-limit credit card, for example, and make payments on time. For older, outstanding debt, contact the company that owns the debt and work out a payment plan or settlement. Commit to making your payments on time, and you will see your credit improve.
- Keep the originals of letters you send to creditors and credit bureaus. They are your proof of correspondence, disputes and negotiations. Send the copies to the creditors and credit bureaus instead.