How To Remove Negative Items From Your Credit

By: Jay Peters

We all have done something in the past to mess with our credit rating. Maybe we were late on a couple bills, or defaulted on a loan. These black marks on our credit report can really hurt us - we will pay more interest on our credit card balances, higher insurance premiums, and may have trouble getting a home loan. I wish there was a magic eraser that we could use to remove these negative items, but there's not. It will take a concerted effort, and a fair amount of time, but we can make a difference in how we are portrayed in our credit reports. Here's how:

First, you need to find out exactly what negative information is hiding in your credit report. You can't fix what you don't know. Fortunately, this is the easiest part of the process - you can order free copies of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com. This website is operated by the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) so you won't be ripped off (of course, they will try to sell you additional services, but you don't have to buy them).

Carefully review your credit report, keeping an eye out for any incorrect information and for negative items submitted by companies which have given you credit in the past. Legally, the credit reporting companies have to correct any "inaccurate or incomplete information" found in your credit report. All three of the credit bureaus let you start an investigation online by completing forms found on their websites, by mailing them a letter, or by calling a customer service representative. No matter how you contact them, be sure to document everything you do - you may need it down the line.

Here's an insider technique: Contest ALL negative items in your credit report. By law, negative items can only remain there if they CAN BE PROVEN AS ACCURATE. So when you put the burden of proof on the lenders and the credit bureaus you are increasing the likelihood that more negative reports will be erased from your file.

The credit bureaus investigate your concern by contacting the source of the information (a creditor, collection agency, or courthouse, for example). They then get back to you within a month or so with the results of the investigation. You may then dispute their findings if you don't agree with them. And another month or so goes by while the credit reporting bureau re-investigates the matter. This is not a speedy process, to say the least.

What can you do if the investigation doesn't solve your problem? You can demand that a statement of your dispute be included in your credit file and in future reports. Although you can also ask that the credit bureau provide your statement to anyone how had previously gotten a copy of your credit report, you can expect to pay for that service.

Let's hope that you weren't waiting for a loan to approved while all this "investigating" is going on. It obviously is a process designed to wear you down, but keep the faith. You will be successful if you persist.

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