Work With A Credit Counseling Agency
Several non-profit credit counseling organizations, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling , can help dispute inaccurate information on your credit report. The NFCC can provide debt counseling services, help review your credit reports, work with lenders, and help create a debt management plan free of charge.
As always, be wary of predatory credit organizations or companies. Make sure to find a reputable counseling agency and keep a lookout for any red flags, like hidden fees or lack of transparency.
When looking for a credit counselor, the Federal Trade Commission advises consumers to check out each potential agency with:
- The Attorney General of your state
- Local consumer protection agencies
- The United States Trustee program
Hire A Credit Repair Service
A reputable company like may be a viable solution if your report is riddled with inaccuracies that further complicate the repair process. can help you with the following items:
- Cleaning up credit report errors
- Disputing inaccurate negative entries
- Handling creditor negotiations
If you decide to hire a credit repair service, know that laws govern how they operate and what they can do. The establishes the following regulations governing credit repair services:
- They cannot provide false or misleading information concerning a persons credit status and identification
- They must provide a detailed description of the service
- They cannot receive payment for the performance of any service until said service has been entirely performed
- There must be a written contract detailing the services to be performed, the time frame during which these services will be performed, and the total cost for those services
- They cannot promise to remove accurate information from a credit report before the term set by law
- The consumer will have three days in which to review the contract and cancel without penalty
File A Dispute With The Credit Reporting Agency
Initiate a claim directly with the credit bureau by writing a dispute letter. The purpose of this letter is to notify them that you believe certain information in your credit file is inaccurate.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires creditors to report accurate information about every account. This means they have a legal obligation to review, investigate, and respond to your claim. This process is free and can take up to 30 days to complete.
You can begin a dispute with any one of the credit bureaus through their websites or via mail. The leading credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Its essential to have documentation and to be precise about the information you are challenging.
Each of the three major credit bureaus has an online section dedicated to walking consumers through the process of disputing a claim online. It would be best to dispute the entry with each credit bureau to make sure the removal is complete across the board. After receiving the initial claim, the credit bureau will contact the source of the erroneous information and dispute it on your behalf.
How to file a dispute letter:
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Follow Up After The Investigation
Heres what to expect when the investigation is complete:
- The results of the investigation, in writing, from the credit reporting bureau.
- A free copy of your credit report, if the report has changed.
What about parties who have seen your incorrect information? You can ask the credit bureaus to notify them of the corrections, the FTC says. This includes:
- Notifying anyone who received your report in the past six months.
- Sending a corrected copy of your report to anyone who received it in the past two years.
But what if the investigation doesnt resolve your dispute? If the furnisher continues to report the error, you can ask the credit bureaus to include a statement in your credit file that describes your side of the dispute and it will be included in future credit reports. For a fee, you can usually ask the credit bureau to send a copy of the statement to anyone who has recently received a copy of your report.
Also, if you believe you were treated unfairly or a valid error remains on your credit report, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB is required to forward the complaint to the company with which you have an issue. The CFPB usually will provide you with a response within 15 days.
How long can it take for an error to be corrected on your credit report after the dispute is resolved? Credit bureaus have five business days after finishing their investigation to notify you of the results.
When Negative Information Comes Off Your Credit Reports
Delinquent accounts may be reported for seven years after the date of the last scheduled payment before the account became delinquent. Accounts sent to collection , accounts charged off, or any other similar action may be reported from the date of the last activity on the account for up to seven years plus 180 days after the delinquency that led to the collection activity or charge-off.
What Is a Tradeline?
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Option : Credit Repair
This is the most common and usually best way to get negative items removed from your credit report. Here is how it works:
- If you believe an item cant be verified, you can dispute it with the credit bureau that issued the report.
- The credit bureau has 30 days to verify the information.
- If it cant be verified then it must be removed.
This is a process known as . Its usually used when you find mistakes on your credit report, like a missed payment that you made on time. Since creditors cant verify erroneous information, its the best way to get rid of negative items in your credit report that shouldnt be there.
However, in addition to removing mistakes, it can also be useful for get rid of re-sold collection accounts. Charged-off debts can change hands many times, from one debt buyer to the next. These portfolios of bad debt often include incomplete account information. As a result, the collector cant verify the original debt. This means with the help of a good , you may be able to have these accounts removed.
Looking for a way to remove negative items from your credit report? Connect with a Debt.com accredited credit repair service now!
Wait Until It Falls Off
When the debt in question is legitimate and you cant convince the debt collector to delete it from your report, your only remaining option is to wait. After seven years from the date the account first became delinquent, the collection should fall off of your credit report.
Although this means the collection will continue to impact your credit score its impact will lessen as time passes.
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How Do I Know Whats In My Credit Report
Each of the national credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion is required to give you a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months if you ask for it at AnnualCreditReport.com, or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Otherwise, a credit bureau may charge you a reasonable amount for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.
Consider getting your reports at least once a year. You can get your free reports from each of the credit bureaus at once, or you can spread them out throughout the year. Some financial advisors say staggering your requests during a 12-month period may be a good way to keep an eye on whether the information in your reports is accurate and complete. But since each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, the information in one credit bureaus report may not be completely the same as information in your reports from the other two credit bureaus.
Through the pandemic, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from all three national credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. Also, everyone in the U.S. can get six free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. Thats in addition to the one free Equifax report you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Youre also entitled to another free report each year if
Stage : A Collection Agency
Most creditors and medical offices will wait until the original bill is at least 120 days past due before turning the account over or selling the account to a collection agency.
Once an account has been turned over or sold to a collection agency, its typically not very long before a new collection account appears on the consumers credit reports. Some collections might appear on just one or two credit reports. Many others will be added to reports with all three credit bureaus.
Debt collection agencies generally buy debt for pennies on the dollar, and are often very aggressive when it comes to collecting. In some cases, collection agencies even break the law, threatening people or lying to get them to pay. Listen to the story of Jimmy, an experienced debt collector, along with stories about illegal debt collection, in this NPR interview.
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Send A Letter To The Reporting Creditor
You also want to send a similar letter to the creditor whos currently reporting the debt.
To do this, either reframe your credit bureau letter with copies of your documentation to the creditor or simply send a copy of the same letter with copies of any documents included. Avoid making statements that could restart the debt clock if the statute of limitations has not expired.
As with the credit bureau, send the letter certified with a return receipt requested. The creditor has 30 days to investigate your claims and respond.
Why this is important: Depending on who your creditor is, it may be faster to work directly with it to get your old debt off your credit report.
Who this affects most: Those with older debts with more established companies will benefit from contacting the original creditors. You may find it easier to work with larger, more established creditors than with smaller collection agencies.
Send A Letter To The Credit Bureau
Once you identify an error on your credit reports, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends that you contact the credit bureaus that produced the reports with the error. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three major credit bureaus, let you dispute inaccuracies on their respective consumer credit reports online or by mail.
Give your contact information and, in writing, explain what the error is and why its wrong. Youll find sample letters to dispute credit report information with the credit bureau on the CFPB website. Be sure to include supporting documentation, such as a copy of an email verifying the status of the account thats reported incorrectly. The CFPB also recommends that you keep copies of any letters or documentation that you send, and suggests that if you send it by mail, use certified mail with a return receipt.
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What Happens After You Dispute Information On Your Credit Report
If you suspect that the error on your report is a result of identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov, the federal governments one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft.
If the furnisher corrects your information after your dispute, it must notify all of the credit reporting companies it sent the inaccurate information to, so they can update their reports with the correct information.
If the furnisher determines that the information is accurate and does not update or remove the information, you can request the credit reporting company to include a statement explaining the dispute in your credit file. This statement will be included in future reports and provided to whoever requests your credit report.
Documentation To Provide For Your Dispute
In addition to the above, you’ll need to provide:
Proof of identity
Your Social Security number and date of birth
A copy of government-issued identification
Your current address and past addresses going back two years
A copy of a utility bill or bank or insurance statement that includes your name and address
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How Long Does It Take To Get A Collection Off Your Credit Report
Paying off a collection account is a good idea for several reasonsbut the account wont fall off your credit report just because its paid. A collection accountpaid or unpaidremains on your credit report and visible to potential creditors for seven years from the date of the first missed payment on the debt in question.
Will Removing Negative Information Fix My Credit Score
Often, negative entries whether accurate or inaccurate lower your credit score and prevent your score from increasing over time.
But every consumers situation is unique. Inaccurate information may not be your credit scores only problem. If thats true, its deletion may not achieve the immediate results youre looking for.
In this case, youll need a more holistic approach to credit repair a way to develop better habits with your lenders so your score can increase organically.
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Identify Any Credit Report Errors
Review your credit reports periodically for inaccurate or incomplete information. You can get one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion once a year at annualcreditreport.com. You can also subscribe, usually at a cost, to a credit monitoring service and review your report monthly.
Some common credit report errors you might spot include:
- Identity mistakes such as an incorrect name, phone number or address.
- A so-called mixed file that contains account information belonging to another consumer. This may occur when you and another consumer have the same or similar names.
- An account incorrectly attributed to you due to identity theft.
- A closed account thats still being reported as open.
- An incorrect reporting of you as an account owner, when you are just an authorized user on an account.
- A remedied delinquency such as a collections account that you paid off yet still shows as unpaid.
- An account thats incorrectly labelled as late or delinquent, which could include outdated information such as a late payment thats over 7 years old or an incorrect date regarding your last payment.
- The same debt listed more than once.
- An account listed more than once with different creditors.
- Incorrect account balances.
- Inaccurate credit limits.
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Is There Anything Else I Can Do To Improve My Credit
It takes time, but you can improve your credit by paying your bills by the due date, paying off debt especially on your credit cards and not taking on new debt. Paying bills on time and having low balances can help you build a solid credit history. If youre in debt and need help, a reputable credit counseling organization might be able to help. Good credit counselors spend time discussing your entire financial situation with you before coming up with a personalized plan to solve your money problems. They wont promise to fix all your problems or ask you to pay a lot of money before doing anything.
You often can find non-profit credit counseling programs offered through
Write A Goodwill Letter
No luck with direct contact or a written dispute? A goodwill letter is another tool in your arsenal to nix those late payments from your credit report.
These letters are ideal in situations where you got behind on payments and are now in good standing. is already in collections, a pay for delete arrangement may be your best bet. More on that shortly)
In a nutshell, a goodwill letter is a written request to the creditor asking that they remove the late payment from your credit report.
Theres no guarantee that theyll actually remove the negative mark, but its worth a shot. Plus, you can plead your case again if they reject your request the first time around.
When drafting up your letter, be honest about the reason you were delinquent. If you hit a rough patch because you became unemployed or were dealing with medical issues, put that information in there. Or maybe your account was compromised or there was a glitch in autopay, so the payment was returned or didnt go through.
Regardless of your reasoning, be as specific as possible and reiterate that the entry is not a reflection of your true character. It just resulted from a financial rough patch, and that youve worked hard to get back on track.
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What Doesnt Work To Get Rid Of Negative Items In Your Credit Report
There are a few actions that you might assume will fix your issues, but they wont: