Summary: A complete guide for removing negative items from your credit report.
A single negative item such as a collection, late payment, or charge-off can dramatically lower your credit score. In fact, depending on what your credit score was prior to the negative item, it could drop as much as 100 points.
Therefore, for the sake of your financial wellbeing, it’s a good idea to know how to get something off your credit report.
Let’s jump into the details.
What Negative Items Can I Get Removed From My Credit Report?
It is possible to remove every type of negative item from your credit report. This is especially true if the negative item contains inaccuracies.
With that said, some items, such as a bankruptcy, are more difficult to remove than others (i.e., collections).
Here is a list of the most common negative items you might see on your credit reports.
Each one of these items affects your credit score differently. For example, a charge-off is more detrimental to your credit score than a late payment. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to attempt to remove the worst negative items first.
Luckily, the techniques for removing an item from your credit report is the same for all types of negative items.
Steps to Remove Negative Items From Your Credit Report
You should never jump into credit repair without a game plan in place.
With that said, there are two primary roads you can take when it comes to removing something off your credit reports: the do-it-yourself method, or utilizing credit repair services.
I will outline both the do-it-yourself way, and the credit repair services. It’s up to you which route you want to take, and really it all boils down to how much work you’re willing to put into the process.
If you’re OK with spending some time negotiating with debt collectors, writing letters, etc, than the do-it-yourself method will work fine.
However, if you’re in a hurry and you’d rather have a professional handle the credit repair, then using a credit repair company is probably the way to go.
Let’s start with the do-it-yourself techniques.
Try a Debt Validation Letter
Debt validation is a method by which you demand that a debt collector validate that the debt they are trying to collect on is actually yours. In addition, you’re also requesting that they validate that you indeed owe the amount they are trying to collect.
In order for this method to be successful, you need to write the debt collector a “debt validation letter” within 30 days of when they first contacted you regarding the debt.
In this letter, simply ask that they provide you with proof that the debt is yours and that you owe the amount they are seeking.
Also mention that they have 30 days to provide this information or they are to remove the negative item from your credit reports and cease attempting to collect on the debt.
Make sure you send this letter certified mail so you can prove that they actually received the letter.
Many times collection agencies will be unable to provide documentation that the debt belongs to you and will simply remove the item from your credit report by contacting the credit bureaus and you’ll never hear from them again. Of course, this is the best case scenario.
On the other hand, it’s possible that they do have proof of the debt, in which case they will likely mail you back with the documentation. If this happens, you will need to move on to the next technique.
When the collection agency is able to validate the debt, your next option is to offer to pay the debt, either in full or partially, if they agree to remove the credit account from your credit report.
This method works quite well because above all creditors want to get paid. They don’t really care about your credit score.
In order to negotiate pay for delete, you will need to write the collector a letter with your offer. Make sure that you specifically outline that they will need to agree in writing to remove the negative item.
Make sure you send your pay for delete letter via certified mail so you can ensure that they actually received the your letter.
If you’re dealing with an older debt, you might be able to negotiate paying less than the full amount. In other words, the older the debt, the more likely the creditor will be willing to accept less than the full amount.
You might have to pay the full amount on newer collections.
Lastly, after you have negotiated, make sure that you check your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. You might have to send the collector another letter if they haven’t removed the collection accounts after you paid.
Dispute Inaccurate Negative Items
The final do-it-yourself credit repair method is called the Advanced Dispute Method. With this technique, you will need a copy of your free credit report. You can get a copy of your credit reports here.
Once you have your credit reports in front of you, highlight the negative or delinquent accounts. You want to look over your credit history in detail, and attempt to find any inaccurate information.
By law, you have the right to dispute inaccurate, negative information on your credit report with the credit bureaus. Once a dispute is filed, the credit bureaus have 30 days to verify, correct, or remove the disputed item.
When you’re looking over credit report, check for incorrect information such as:
- Account balance
- Payment history
- Credit limit (credit cards)
- Date opened
- Date closed
- Account status
- Payment status
- High balances
- Name on account
- Any misspellings
Once you have found inaccuracies on an account, you will need to write a dispute letter. You can also dispute the account online, but generally I recommend disputing with a letter because it tends to get more attention from the credit reporting agency.
In the letter, you will simply list the inaccurate accounts, and for the advanced method, detail exactly what information is incorrect.
The credit bureaus might not necessarily have all of the same information. In other words, an account might have inaccurate information on one credit bureaus credit report, but not on the other credit bureau.
However, you can always send your dispute letter to all three credit bureaus and see what happens. You might get lucky and the items will be removed from your credit report.
Here are the addresses you should send your dispute letters to.
|P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016||P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374||P.O. Box 9701 Allen, TX 75013|
Work with a Professional
Now that I’ve outlined the do-it-yourself methods for removing something from your credit report, let’s get into your other option.
You have the option of using a credit repair service to remove negative items from your credit report. This is a great option when you’re in a hurry, or simply don’t want to deal with negotiating with creditors.
Because credit repair companies specialize in dealing with the credit reporting agencies, they are more likely to be successful than if you do it yourself.
Their credit repair service isn’t free, but honestly, it’s more than worth the cost. Ultimately, you’re going to save money by having a clean credit report and a higher credit score.
How Much Will My Credit Score Increase When Negative Items Are Removed?
Your credit score will likely significantly increase when you start removing negative accounts from your credit report.
Of course, it’s difficult to say exactly how much of a point increase you’ll see on your credit score. That said, some people have reported increasing their credit score more than 100 points by removing only a couple of negative credit accounts.
How Long Does it Take to Remove Something From My Credit Report?
The amount of time it takes to remove negative information from your credit report depends on how quickly the creditors respond to your letters. It also depends on how many credit report errors you’re dealing with.
However, by choosing a credit repair company, you will significantly lessen the amount of time required to remove negative information from your credit report.