Something horrible is being reported about you and you want it gone. It’s holding you back from getting the things you want and deserve, including meeting your personal goal of joining or remaining in the esteemed 800 Club. No surprise it’s the most frequently asked question here. After all, to reach such a score, you’ll not only need a considerable amount of positive data listed on your credit reports, you can’t have anything on them that’s negative either.
When you spot a wart that’s marring the beauty of your rating, your initial instinct may be to slice it off by filing a dispute with the credit reporting agency. But can you? That depends on the kind of ugly information that’s showing up.
The fact is, you can only use the credit report dispute system under specific circumstances. I assure you, simply wanting something purged is not reason enough. Not by a long shot.
So here are the items that you can legitimately dispute and then have removed from your consumer credit report. Once deleted, your scores will escalate.
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law, a person’s credit report can only list accurate and timely information. However it’s not uncommon for mistakes to show up, and some of them will shave vital points from your credit score. Read through your credit report carefully and make sure everything is as it should be. If you see anything that’s incorrect, you can (and should) dispute it. These may include:
- Fraudulent accounts. If you’re a victim of identity theft, a crook could have taken out cards and loans in your name.
- Inaccurate balances. This can also be a sign of fraudulent activity.
- Satisfied accounts that are showing up as outstanding.
- Payments noted as late when you paid on time.
- Accounts that were falsely sent to collections.
- Incorrect personal ID data. (Mind that identification is not a credit scoring factor, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set the record straight.)
- Inquiries you didn’t make. Hard pulls for credit products are scoring factors, so if it looks like someone has attempted to take out a loan or credit card in your name, even if they weren’t successful, it’s eligible for dispute.
Just think: did I do this? Is it correct? If not, go forth and dispute.
Accounts that should have aged off
Even if the negative information on your report is true, in most cases there is a set time frame where it can remain on your credit report.
Satisfied judgments can stay for five years from the date it was filed.
Most other information may remain for seven years, including:
- Late payments
- Charge-offs (a notation that the creditor remove the debt from its books), accounts that were sent to collection agencies
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy (from the date of filing)
- Monetary judgments from civil lawsuits that are showing up in the public records section of your report.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain for ten years from the filing date.