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If you have negative remarks on your credit reports, it can be difficult to meet your financial needs. It can also hinder your loan applications such as mortgages, credit cards or sometimes even insurance because you’ll most likely have a low credit score. In fact, having negative items on your credit report can actually prevent you from getting hired by certain companies. But don’t worry – there is something you can do about it! Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the legal right to dispute any inaccurate information regarding your credit. Credit bureaus and lenders are legally obliged to ensure that credit reports are accurate and truthful.
However, it’s important to note that if some negative items on your report are correct and valid, you won’t be able to get them removed. Instead, you will have to repair your credit over time, which includes making on-time payments and decreasing your overall debt.
So you know that you’re allowed to remove items that are negatively affecting your report based on false info. But how do you do it? In this latest post from our credit repair series, we’ll discuss how to remove negative items from your credit report. Read on!
How long do negative items stay on your credit report?
This is a common concern that people have when it comes to their credit reports. The answer can vary depending on the type of negative account information reported and the credit bureau involved.
Generally speaking, most negative items will stay on your report for seven years. This includes bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and late payments. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, unpaid tax liens can stay on your credit report for up to 15 years. This YouTube video has a detailed overview of the different timelines you can expect.
How much higher will your score be if you remove negative items?
This is honestly a difficult concern to answer because it depends on a variety of factors, such as your credit score before the negative items were added and how many of those items are eliminated. In general, removing one or two of these items from your credit report can cause your credit score to increase by 20-30 points.
However, if you have a lot of negative accounts on your credit report, it’s likely that removing them will not cause a significant increase in your credit score. Regardless, you should definitely try to remove negative credit report items from your report if possible so you can improve your credit.
What’s the best way to remove negative accounts on my credit information?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because everyone’s situation is different. Here’s some generalized tips you can follow when disputing negative accounts on your credit report. Check them out:
Get a copy of your free credit report.
The first step to remove negative credit report entries in your profile is to ask for a copy of your report. You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once every 12 months. To order your credit reports, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com and sign up.
Other ways to get a free copy of your credit report is through:
- Phone – (877) 322-8228
- Mail – Fill out a request form and mail to
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta
Besides the annual free credit report, you can also request a free copy if:
- You got denied credit, insurance, or failed a job application based on your credit in the past 60 days.
- You’re the victim of credit fraud or identity theft.
- Your credit report is inaccurate because of fraud.
- You live in a state that requires free credit reports from residents.
- You are on public assistance.
- The credit agency must give you a free copy if it takes longer than 30 days to correct an inaccuracy in your credit report after you dispute it.
We need to mention, however, that although you can get free credit report, it will not contain a free credit score. So for FICO or Vantage score monitoring, you will need to request a copy of your reports directly from these credit bureaus:
Review the items to be removed and look for any credit report errors.
Once you have your credit report, take a look through it and identify any negatives that need to be disputed. Besides negative accounts, you also need to look for credit report errors.
- Look for inaccurate information – credit bureaus are not perfect!
- Credit bureaus make mistakes. Sometimes they accidentally include incorrect information on credit reports. This could be something as simple as an incorrect credit score or credit limit, or it could be a more serious error like a debt that doesn’t belong to you.
It’s important to look through your credit report closely and identify any inaccurate information. This is because credit bureaus are not perfect and they sometimes make mistakes. So if you find inaccurate information on your credit report, you can dispute it with the credit agency. Here’s how.
Fill out the credit dispute form.
To remove items from your credit report, you will need to fill out a dispute form. This is a short form that asks for basic information like your name and contact information, as well as details about the specific item you are disputing.
You can usually find the credit bureau’s dispute form on their website. Simply search Google for “dispute form” + “[name of credit bureau]”. For example, if you’re disputing an item with Experian, you would search for “dispute form” + “Experian”.
Submit your dispute to the credit reporting agency.
Once you have filled out the dispute form, you will need to submit it to the credit agency. This can usually be done online or by mail.
You can file your dispute online using each of the bureaus’ online dispute forms and follow the process they have in place for submitting disputes.
If you choose to file your dispute by mail, you will need to print out the credit bureau’s dispute form and send it in with all of your supporting documentation. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), you should enclose a copy of your report highlighting the error or inconsistencies you found.
Some of the documents that you may need to include are as follows:
- Credit card
- Bank statements
- Copies of checks
- Certification from lenders
- Pay stubs
- W-2 forms
- Utility bills
- Proof of identity (birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, for example)
- Police reports (in the case of identity theft)
When mailing the dispute letter be sure to request a return receipt so you will have a document to prove that the reporting agency had received your letter.
Send your dispute letter to:
Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Include this dispute form with your letter.
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Consumer Solutions
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Credit bureaus typically have a process for how disputes are handled, so make sure to read their guidelines carefully. In most cases, the credit agency will investigate your dispute and then update your credit report with their findings.
Submit your dispute to lenders.
If your dispute to the credit bureaus failed, you can have it removed from your credit report by contacting the creditor directly. You will have to discuss and dispute accounts that you deemed invalid through their help. This is because credit bureaus typically only have limited information about a debt or other negative item on your credit report.
The creditor may be able to provide more detailed information about the debt or credit accounts, which could help your dispute be successful.
You can submit a dispute to the creditor by mail or email.
Send your letter to the creditor’s address for disputes. You can find this information on your credit report or by doing a Google search for “[name of creditor] address for disputes”.
If you choose to dispute the negative item in your credit report by email, be sure to include all of your contact information as well as a copy of your credit report.
Here’s an example of what your email might look like:
Subject: Dispute of credit account
I am writing in regards to credit account number XXXXXXXX. I am disputing the account as it is not mine. Could you please provide me with more information about this credit account?
Your email address
The creditor should investigate your dispute and then update your credit report with their findings. If they are able to verify that the negative item is correct, they may not be willing to remove it from your credit report. However, you can continue to negotiate with the creditor in an effort to get the item removed.
Stay patient while credit bureaus verify each item in your dispute.
Disputing negative items on your credit report can be a slow process. They are reviewing tons of accounts on a daily basis so be patient and give the credit agency enough time to investigate your dispute. In most cases, they will update your credit report with their findings within 30 to 45 days.
If you’re unsuccessful in getting the negative item removed after disputing it with both the credit agency and the creditor, there are a few other steps you can take.
You could try to get the credit account removed from your credit report by filing a lawsuit. You could also try to get the credit agency to remove the item by filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Although this is a more complicated route that not all of us have the time to take.
It involves tedious work and tons of patience. If you think credit repair is too much of a responsibility for you, there are credit repair companies that guide you through each step until you reach your credit goals. However, it’s important that you deal with legit companies offering credit repair services, so you don’t fall for credit repair scams by checking out the other post in this series that covers that topic. Here’s a full list of everything we’ve covered so far in our credit repair series here at the Trussville Tribune: