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Get Something Removed From Your Credit Report

Learn how to get something removed from your credit report and see why doing so might matter for your financial future.

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Your credit report holds considerable power over your financial future.

While this is great if you already have excellent credit, it can be worrying if you don’t. And if you’re like most of us — you simply don’t have excellent credit.

Negative items on your credit report might limit your options for loans, change your debt repayment strategies, and can stop you from purchasing big items like houses or cars. While negative items will eventually go away on their own, it’s often smarter to get something removed from your credit report ahead of schedule.

Want to learn how to remove charge offs from your credit report, along with other items that can lower your score? You’re in the right place.

Let’s get started.

What Are Negative Credit Report Items?

Your credit score is quite an important number. For such a small rating, it can determine the course of plenty of things throughout your life. Your credit score plays a part in whether you can:

  • get approved for a loan for a high-value item like a car or for a mortgage for a home
  • determine whether you can take out debt consolidation loans
  • impact your insurance rates
  • and more

“Negative items” are any notes on your credit report that show undesirable financial information to potential creditors or lenders. They lower your credit score by ostensibly providing evidence that you’re not a good borrower.

What Are Credit Report Errors?

These are any negative items on your credit report that may not be “earned” or legitimate.

It’s no stretch to say that having negative credit can cause you a ton of problems. So when people hear that there might be errors on their credit reports, they’re understandably frustrated.

Note that credit report errors aren’t the same thing as real negative items. Factual or true negative items on your credit report, like a late payment that you actually missed, aren’t errors. Credit report errors are negative items that shouldn’t be on the report. They can be things like:

  • records of a late payment when you made the payment on time
  • repeated hard credit checks that you didn’t ask for
  • newly opened accounts are credit cards that someone did in your name
  • a misfiling with your credit score and someone else’s
  • and more

Ultimately, it’s never a good thing to have a credit report error or any negative item on your score. Even a small issue can drag you down and, for instance, stop you from receiving a great interest rate on your new car or house. Bad credit locks people into aptly named bad credit loans, too.

Thankfully, you’re able to contest credit report items and correct errors by taking charge yourself.

How Do Errors Happen?

Errors on your credit report are all too common. That’s largely because they can happen in plenty of ways.

Something as simple as a misspelling of your name or using an old address to send you a bill can cause a minor error that takes your score down by a few points. This being said, credit reporting bureaus are supposed to provide accurate information and work for you.

Thus, they have a dispute process already set up so you can challenge credit report errors as you see them.

Understanding how a credit reporting error could happen is important if you want to contest one. There are four main reasons why a credit reporting error might affect your score:

Identity Theft

Especially in the digital age, it’s almost trivially easy for criminals to get their hands on identifying information like Social Security numbers or bank account information. They can then use these numbers to make purchases in the names of account holders, open up new credit or bank accounts, or do any number of other criminal financial things. If they do decide to open a new credit account, it appears on your credit report and can drag your score down

Filing Errors

Sometimes, credit reporting bureaus can mix up your name with a similar name on their lists. This is more common if you happen to have a rather typical name for your industry or country. John B. Smith, for example, can easily be mistaken for John C. Smith

Debt expiration restarts. In most cases, debts that negatively impact your credit score are supposed to expire after seven years and an additional 180 days from when it first became delinquent. If your debt is sold to a third-party collection (i.e. it becomes part of a collection account), the expiration clock can sometimes be restarted or muddied

Furnisher Errors

Data furnishers are organizations that provide various financial data to the credit bureaus, which is then used to come up with your credit report and score. Data furnishers can be any company that provides that data, like banks, lending organizations, rental companies, or debt collectors. If any of these data furnishers supply data incorrectly, your credit score might take an unjustified hit

When looking for or spotting errors on your credit report, try to consider what the reason might be. You can then reference this potential reason in your dispute with the credit bureaus, giving them a place to start their search for error validity.

🛠 Looking to fix your credit? Get started with the leading credit repair software today.

What About Negative Items that Aren’t Errors?

In some cases, you can still get rid of negative items on your credit report even if they aren’t technically incorrect. This can be an effective way to boost your credit score ahead of schedule and get yourself back on track to financial success and stability. In many cases, negative items on your credit report aren’t worth fighting, and credit bureaus or other organizations might accept your request if you just show that you’re willing to fight for it.

Why Get Something Removed From Your Credit Report

If negative items are dragging your credit score down, you’re essentially capping your earning potential and limiting your choices. Your credit score impacts what types of good credit loans you can take out and your overall financial options. You should always try to have as high a credit score as possible.

By getting something removed from your credit report, you can potentially save yourself thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in labor. For instance, if a single late payment drives your credit score down below a certain threshold, you might be forced to take a loan with a worse interest rate than you anticipated. As you use the loan to pay off your debt, you’ll have to pay more money in the long run because of that interest rate. A single negative line on your credit report, therefore, ended up costing you a lot.

Spending a little bit of time getting negative items removed from your credit report will save you a lot of work in the long term. Additionally, negative items on your credit report can often be removed with less effort than you might think.

Is it True that After 7 Years Your Credit is Clear?

If you aren’t able to get negative items removed from your credit report, you’ll have to wait for them to come off naturally. Here’s a timetable for when negative items are removed from a credit report.

Negative Item on Credit ReportTime Until Removed
Regular missed paymentSeven years
Account charge-offSeven years
RepossessionSeven years
CollectionsSeven years
Late student delinquency or defaultSeven years
BankruptcySeven years for Chapter 13 bankruptcy or 10 years for Chapter 7
ForeclosureSeven years

How to See if You Have Errors on Your Credit Report

Of course, the credit bureaus will not independently go through your report to periodically cleanse it of any errors or issues. It all comes down to your own responsibility. So you’ll need to dig through your report every now and again and make sure there aren’t any errors affecting your score. But how do you do this?

There are several ways you can locate errors on your credit reports. For starters, you need to get a copy of the report. You can do this for free once every year (and from all three major credit reporting agencies) by visiting free credit report sources like AnnualCreditReports.com. However, if you’ve already used your free credit report for one or more of the big agencies, you can always pay for another copy.

You can also take advantage of free credit reporting periods, which are sometimes offered during national crises.

The three major bureaus are TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The good news is that an error doesn’t necessarily affect the reports for all three bureaus. The bad news is that you have to look through each bureau’s reports to be really sure that there aren’t any mistakes.

This takes time, plain and simple. Go through every credit report available carefully, crosschecking information with your own numbers and bank account information. If you see something that you aren’t sure about, look it up and try to place the charge or account opening in your memory.

Whenever you see a suspicious entry, investigate all of these aspects:

  • The balance of the transaction, if any
  • The account number in question
  • The date the account was opened or closed
  • If the account is open or closed
  • What the payment status is – this tells you if it’s in a collection

You can also try to find a suspicious report entry on all three reports. Chances are high that, if there is an error on one of your credit reports, it’s not on the other two, at least if it’s a simple data furnisher error. This is one way you can narrow down your search if you’re looking for very small problems.

It’s a good idea to keep a collection of the various disputes you intend to raise. Unfortunately, you aren’t able to open a single dispute with the credit bureaus to handle all the errors on your credit reports.

You’ll need to open up a separate dispute or line of inquiry for every error. So keep a record of everything you intend to contest so you don’t have to find the error again later. Write what’s inaccurate about the error, specifically, and include a value for that item so it’s easier to find.

Another great way to find errors is to just keep good track of your credit over time. For instance, you can sign up for a credit check service that provides you with updates on your credit score’s major areas.

You can also get a credit report card from organizations like Credit.com. Essentially a type of credit monitoring service, this company provides you with a “report card” that measures your credit against the five metrics and updates you every two weeks.

This way, you can immediately start investigating your credit if it takes a sudden dive, especially in an area where you do a lot of work to keep your credit up in the first place.

Are Closed Accounts on Credit Report Bad?

To put it simply, yes — closed accounts do have the potential to look bad on a credit report. The extent to which how bad this looks however, ultimately depends on a number of other factors.

Derogatory Marks

Closed accounts with derogatory marks such as missed payments, late payments, collections, or charge-offs will follow you around for quite a while. They will usually remain on your credit report for a total of seven years.

How Can I Get Something Removed From my Credit Report Fast?

Depending on the type of error, there are several ways you can get a negative item removed from your credit report.

Once you claim an error on your credit report, data furnishers or credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate and/or remove those inaccurate items. In some cases, the time limit might be extended to 45 days, as things like postal mail timing can impact promptness.

Dispute Credit Report

Your first option is to send a letter to the credit reporting agency that has a negative item on their report. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can dispute any perceived error in the pursuit of an accurate credit report. 

This involves writing a physical letter or email to one or more credit bureaus. We have a great guide on how to write a good credit dispute letter below. In a nutshell, the letter will have you describe the error and request that it be removed, along with providing any information that supports your case. 

Dispute the Error with a Business Directly

Of course, you can also skip dealing with the credit bureaus and talk to the business that might have produced the false error. For instance, if a data furnisher like a credit card company reported a late payment that you know was on time, you can contact the company and demand that the error be corrected.

In this case, you’ll also write a letter and present your evidence in the same way as you would with a credit dispute letter to a bureau. It helps to inform them that they have a responsibility to report the error and the correction to all the bureaus once noticed.

Write a Goodwill Letter

The people on the other end of the credit reporting line are humans, too, and they’re sometimes more than willing to help you out if you just ask. Instead of appealing to the rules or pointing out an error on your credit report, you can draft a goodwill letter and politely petition the credit reporting agency to remove a negative item for your benefit.

You might think that this is a longshot, but you’d be surprised by how many people receive positive responses. When drafting a goodwill letter, be sure to keep things straightforward and the point, but polite and explanatory. It helps to describe the other steps you’re taking to rebuild your credit so that the person reading the letter has reason to believe that removing the negative item will do some demonstrable good.

At the same time, try not to go overboard. People’s charity tends to only go so far, so using a goodwill letter to remove one or two small items is likely to be more effective than asking to get dozens of negative items erased in a single shot.

Can I have Closed Accounts Removed From my Credit Report?

Yes, it is possible to have closed accounts removed from your credit report. The best way this can be done is through a goodwill letter. However, it is only likely that the closed account will be removed if it was closed due to inaccurate information.

If this is the case, it is strongly advised that you attempt to dispute such inaccuracies through a goodwill letter. The odds that such derogatory marks will be removed are in your favor.

Negotiate with Your Wallet

Wondering how to remove collections from your credit report? You might be able to bring your wallet to the negotiation table. Specifically, you can send a “pay for delete” offer to the creditor in question.

This is most effective if you have a collections account on your credit report, in which case you can ask the debt collectors directly to take it off your report in exchange for a payment. This method, however, isn’t explicitly legal and might get you into trouble if you have to report the action for some later reason.

Legally speaking, debt collectors are required to report accurate information to the various bureaus. So deleting a negative item because you paid them might, if a court officer were to squint, count as bribery.

However, people have used this method for a long time to some effect. Consider it another tool that you may or may not decide to use in your effort to repair your credit score.

Hire a Credit Repair Service

Back on the firmly legal side of things, you can hire a legitimate credit repair service to help you build up your score again. Check out our guide on the best credit repair companies for more information. In a nutshell, these services will help you challenge creditors on various false or potentially inaccurate negative items in a professional context by providing significant expertise and financial wizardry. 

Their services don’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll see a bump to your credit score, but it doesn’t hurt if you have the money to spare and don’t want to spend tons of time combing through your credit reports looking for errors yourself.  

Take the Error to the CFPB

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is your last option if you’ve tried to get a negative (and especially false negative) charge removed on your credit report to no avail. This organization is in place to protect consumers and ensure that their credit reports are only filled with accurate information.

You can contact them and explain the item you’re disputing or submit a complaint. If you provide proof, they can help you get the negative item in question removed even if you’re battling the most bullheaded creditor.

How to Fix my Credit Myself

If you’re looking to fix your credit yourself, you do have a few options. There are a number of leading credit repair software available. In this way, you can improve your credit with just a few clicks.

There are other options as well, especially for repairing derogatory marks that can cause serious damage. The best way to handle such instances is to write a credit dispute letter, which we explain in more detail in the following section.

How to Write a Credit Dispute Letter or Credit Explanation

It’s one thing to say you’ll write a dispute letter or an explanation for why your credit should be improved. It’s another thing to do it well. To that end, here’s a basic template you can use to write your own credit dispute letters or goodwill letters.

Here are a few general things to keep in mind regardless of the exact form the letter takes:

  • Always keep your statements clear and concise. Wordiness isn’t likely to get you anywhere, nor are dramatic pleas for mercy. Just stick to the facts, explain what’s inaccurate or what you want to be removed, and be specific about your reasons.
  • Always include a return address so that the credit agency or the creditor can get back to you promptly.
  • It’s not a good idea to quote federal laws that credit bureaus are agencies. The person reading your letter already knows the laws and, in the event case of a goodwill letter, may not be amused at you throwing the book at them.

Otherwise, feel free to use this basic template for all your credit dispute letter needs.

John Doe

1000 Center Street

The Town, USA 12345

SSN: 123-45-6789

Jan 1, 2020

<insert reference number if needed or referring to a past conversation with the agency>

To Whom It May Concern,

I believe my credit report contains some inaccurate information/I wish to discuss the possibility of removing an item on my credit report. Here’s the pertinent information:

Your Bank

Your Account Number

Date Opened:

<Insert other relevant details>

As you can see, my credit report shows that I made a late payment for <amount> on <date>. However, I made that payment on time, which can be seen through enclosed statements for the same month. These statements prove that the payment was on time.

I respectfully request that this be corrected as soon as possible.

Thank you,

John Doe 

Summary

In the end, getting something removed from your credit report can only help you in the future. While it takes a little extra effort, it’s always better to boost your credit score now instead of waiting for seven years, on average.

Have you had any experience getting items removed from your credit reports? Let us know and let’s discuss.

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on TheTokenist.io. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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