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Strategies to Remove Negative Credit Report Entries Yourself

Disputes, Pay for Delete, and Goodwill Strategies Explained

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Negative details on your credit report are glaring reminders of the mistakes you’ve made in the past. Or sometimes, negative data is placed on your credit report in error. Either way, it’s up to you to attempt to have unfavorable credit report entries removed from your credit report. A better credit report is the key to getting approved for credit cards and loans and getting good rates on the accounts that you’re approved for. Here are some strategies to get negative credit report information removed from your credit report.

Submit a dispute to the credit bureau.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the law that dictates the type of information that can be listed on your credit report and for how long. The FCRA says that you have the right to an accurate credit report and because of that, you can dispute errors with the credit bureau.

Credit report disputes are typically made online and via mail. To make a dispute online, you must have recently ordered a copy of your credit report from that credit bureau. When you dispute via mail, you can write a letter describing the error and submit proof of the error. The credit bureau investigates and removes the entry if they find that is indeed an error.

You can dispute with the business that reported to the credit bureau.

Now, you can completely bypass the credit bureau and dispute directly with the business that reported the error to the credit bureau, e.g. the credit card issuer or bank. You can make the dispute in writing and the business is required to do an investigation just like the credit bureau. When the business determines that there’s indeed an error on your credit report, they must notify all the credit bureaus of that error.

Send a pay for delete offer to your creditor.

You have to approach accurately reported negative information differently. Credit bureaus won’t remove accurate, verifiable information even if you dispute it, so you may have to negotiate to have some items removed from your credit report. A pay for delete offer is a technique you can use with delinquent accounts. Basically, you offer to pay the account in full in exchange for having the negative details removed from your credit report. Some creditors will take you up on the offer and others won’t.

Make a goodwill request for deletion.

With pay for delete, you can use money as the bargaining chip for getting negative information removed from your credit report. If you’ve already paid the account, however, you don’t have much negotiating power. At this point, you can ask for mercy by requesting a goodwill deletion. You might describe why you were late, state how you’ve since been a good paying customer, and ask that the accounts be reported more favorably. Again, creditors don’t have to comply and some won’t. On the other hand, some creditors will make these deletions if you talk to the right person.

Wait out the credit reporting time limit.

If all else fails, your only choice is to wait for those negative items to fall off your credit report. Fortunately, the law only allows most negative information to be reported for seven years. The exception is bankruptcy, which can be reported for up to 10 years. The other good news is that negative information affects your credit score less as it gets older and as you replace it with positive information. The wait may not be as hard as you’d think.

What Doesn’t Work

Filing bankruptcy doesn’t remove negative information from your credit report. If and when your debts are discharged in bankruptcy, the balances will be reported as $0, but the accounts will remain on your credit report. In addition, accounts that were included in your bankruptcy will be noted as such.

Closing an account won’t eliminate the delinquency reporting. If you close an account with a past due balance, your payment will still be reported as delinquent until you catch up on the payment. The only thing closing an account does is keep you from using it.

Paying a delinquent balance doesn’t erase the negative entry on your credit report. Once you pay the balance, the account status will change to “Current” or “Ok” as long as the account isn’t charged off or in collections. Charge-offs and collection accounts will continue to be reported that way even after you pay the balance.

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