How to remove negative items from your credit report is a question on the mind of many consumers. A large percentage of people have negative information on their credit reports.
Often, negative entries are legitimate. But sometimes they aren’t, and those are the kind that can and should be removed.
But, even if a negative item is an error, you still need to go through a series of steps to get it removed.
And, in other instances, it may be possible to get negative items removed from your credit report, even if they are legitimately yours.
If all else fails, you can take comfort in the fact that most negative credit information will automatically fall off your credit report after seven years.
But, in this article, we’re going to focus on how to remove negative items from your credit report before seven years are up.
How Can I Get Things Removed from My Credit Report Fast?
This is another common question consumers have.
Negative credit entries are often not discovered until you make an application for financing, employment, or even an apartment or utility service.
Since the application is already in process, there is hope and a need to get the negative item removed quickly.
How fast the process happens will depend on:
- the specific credit entry
- factors that caused it
- the degree of cooperation the creditor offers
Still another factor, and probably the most important of all, is any type of documentation you have that may prove that a negative item is an error.
But, even if you have such documentation, the time it will take depends on the creditor who made the entry. Some will move fairly quickly, which may be only a matter of a few days.
However, expect it to take 30 days or more to get most negative items removed from your credit report.
Write a Goodwill Letter Asking the Creditor to Remove the Negative Item(s)
If a creditor reports negative information and that information is legitimate, you won’t have a basis to challenge it.
But another strategy is to write a goodwill letter. That’s where you politely request the creditor to remove the negative information.
This strategy will work best on accounts when the negative items are either old, insubstantial, or infrequent.
It can also be effective if you are a current customer in good standing. The creditor may agree to remove the negative item in the spirit of retaining your business.
For example, let’s say you had a 60-day late payment reported two years ago. It’s a legitimate entry, so you won’t be able to dispute it successfully. If you had an otherwise good credit relationship with the creditor for the past five years, you can write a goodwill letter asking them to remove the single late payment based on the otherwise outstanding credit history you have with that the company.
However, you should be aware that it will be much more difficult — and probably impossible — to have more substantial negative information removed. For example, if you’ve had three 60-day and a 90-day late payment within the past two years, the creditor will be unlikely to remove the information.
It will be equally difficult if the negative item in question is an outstanding balance, or if you are requesting removal of negative items from a closed account. After all, if you’re no longer a current customer or client, there will be less incentive to honor your requests.
Request a “Pay For Delete” Arrangement
Pay-for-delete is something you may attempt to do if you have a past-due balance with the creditor, like a charge off for a collection balance. This strategy is a big risk, not because it can get you in trouble, but because it’s an arrangement in which you can uphold your part of the “bargain,” but a creditor doesn’t do the same.
Basically, the strategy involves offering to pay the past-due balance in exchange for the creditor removing the negative entry upon receipt of payment.
On the surface, it seems like a win-win; the creditor is paid the past-due amount, and you have the negative entry removed from your credit report. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.
A creditor may agree to pay-for-delete in an effort to get you to pay the past-due balance. But, once you pay the balance, they may not delete the negative entry from your credit report.
HOW A PAY-FOR-DELETE WORKS
The reason they don’t is that they don’t have to. You see, pay-for-delete is not a legal arrangement. It’s more of an agreement between friends. The creditor may agree to the terms and in fact, delete the negative item from your credit report. But, under their agreements with the credit bureaus, they’re not required to remove negative information. The fact that you have made the payment on an obligation doesn’t change the fact that the account was in a collection or charge-off status. It simply means the obligation was finally paid.
For that reason, the creditor can accept your payment but not remove the negative entry from your credit report, and you’ll have no legal recourse.
But, that doesn’t mean pay-for-delete isn’t worth trying. Some creditors will cooperate, which is why you should make the effort.
If you do, you should make the request formally, using a pay-for-delete letter. Hopefully, the creditor will respond in writing. If they agree to delete the negative information, you can then send payment.
Just don’t be entirely surprised if the hoped-for removal of the negative information doesn’t happen.
If All Else Fails, Get Legal Help
If you absolutely must have a negative item removed from your credit report, or you have a series of negative entries you hope to remove, you may need to get legal representation.
A credit law firm will be the best choice. Probably the best in the business is Lexington Law They’ve been helping consumers work out credit problems for years, and with much success.
As a law firm, they know of more strategies to get negative information removed from your credit report. And even if they don’t have 100% success, they’re likely to get much closer than you can on your own.
There will be a cost to use the services of a credit law firm, so you’ll need to evaluate the benefits you’ll receive from cleaning up your credit report against the cost you’ll pay to have it done.
But if you need to get your credit report cleaned up in a hurry, a credit law firm is your best strategy.
Once Something is Removed from Your Credit Report Can it Be Put Back On?
The unfortunate answer to this question is yes. According to Experian, the largest of the three major credit bureaus, an item can be restored to your credit report if subsequent information proves a disputed account is, in fact, legitimate.
For example, by law, a disputed credit entry must be investigated by the credit bureau. They’ll contact the creditor, who then will have 30 days to respond to the dispute. If the creditor does not respond, or comes back with incomplete or inaccurate information, the entry must be removed from the credit report.
However, if the creditor provides complete information on the obligation after the 30-day timeframe expires, the credit bureau will be required to restore the negative entry to the report.
This situation emphasizes the reality that the only type of negative credit that can be removed from your credit report are entries that are not legitimately your responsibility. If they are, they can find their way back to your credit report, even after what was initially a successful dispute.
How to Remove Specific Items from Your Credit Report
There are at least 10 types of derogatory information you may want to have removed from your credit report. Although the basic process for doing so is similar in most cases, there are specific strategies for each type of entry. Check out the articles below if you are looking for help and advice in removing any of the following negative entries from your credit report:
- Late payments
- Medical bills
- Tax liens
- Public records
The Easiest Items to Delete — Negative Items Reported in Error
There are any number of reasons why negative credit entries appear on your credit report in error.
A common one is a case of mistaken identity. The account may belong to a person who has the same name as you. This is hardly unusual with common names, and sometimes may involve a slight variation. For example, if your name is Stephen J. Smith, a negative item belonging to Stephen F. Smith may appear on your credit report.
Reported in Error
Another reason is when you either made a payment, or made all your payments on time, but they’re reported as either late or still outstanding.
Unfortunately, even if a negative item has been reported on your credit report in error, the burden of proof is still on you. That is, you’ll need to prove to both the creditor and the credit bureaus that it’s not your obligation.
The best way to do that is to contact the creditor directly.
Request that the creditor provides you with all relevant information pertaining to the debt.
This is what is referred to as a debt verification letter.
The creditor must provide this to you, and it must provide all the details of the obligation.
That includes the:
- date the loan was incurred
- amount owed
- if it’s a collection account
- name of the original creditor
If the creditor cannot supply the information, or has only partial information, it must be deleted from your credit report.
What to do when the account is yours, but the information is incorrect
In cases where a creditor is reporting an unpaid past-due balance, or one or more late payments, you’ll need to prepare to supply documentation.
That may be a copy of a check or a bank statement showing a balance was paid in full. If it was a late payment, you may need to provide evidence of a series of payments.
For example, request payment history from the creditor, then match up your payments through your financial accounts.
It’s tedious, but if you can prove all payments were made, you can furnish the documentation to the creditor and ask them to make the change.
If the creditor will not cooperate, you may need to follow up with the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
You can submit a credit dispute letter to each bureau, including the documentation you have that proves your point.
The credit bureaus will contact the creditor to open the dispute.
If the creditor can’t disprove your claim and your documentation, the credit bureaus will delete the negative information.