One important part of repairing your credit is cleaning up your credit report. If your report contains old information that negatively affects your credit (overdue accounts, bankruptcies, late payments, etc.), take steps to get that information removed from your report.
Read on to learn how long various items can remain on your report, and how to get old information removed.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act puts limits on how long negative items may be included on your credit report. Neutral or positive items may be reported indefinitely. Here are the rules:
Bankruptcies. Bankruptcies may remain on your report for ten years from the date you filed for bankruptcy.
Lawsuits and judgments. These may remain on your report for up to seven years from the date the judgment was entered or the date the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer.
Paid tax liens. These may remain on your report for up to seven years from the date you paid the debt underlying the lien.
Most criminal records. Most criminal record information may be reported for up to seven years. Criminal convictions may be reported indefinitely.
Delinquent accounts. Overdue or delinquent accounts may be reported for seven years from the date of the last scheduled paymenty before it became delinquent.
Charged off accounts or accounts sent to collection. These may be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the delinquency.
Overdue child support. This may be reported for up to seven years.
Student loans. Some adverse information regarding student loans may be reported for longer than seven years.
Other adverse information. Any other adverse information may remain on your credit report for up to severn years.
If you are applying for $150,000 or more of credit or life insurance, or are applying for a job with an annual income of $75,000 or more, the credit reporting agencies may report negative information beyond the usual time limits. However, since the agencies usually delete information older than seven years (or ten in the case of bankruptcies), this exception rarely comes into play.
At least once every year you should order your report from each of the major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Review your report and look for outdated information.
If you find negative information that should no longer be on your report, write a letter to the credit reporting agency requesting that it remove the information. Attach any documents supporting your request, such as a bankruptcy petition with the filing date or a judgment with the date it was entered.
The credit reporting agency must do one of two things:
1. Delete the old information within three business days after receiving your letter.
2. Reinvestigate the items you dispute.
If the credit reporting agency chooses to reinvestigate the items you dispute, it has between 30 and 45 days to complete its reinvestigation. It must contact the creditor within five days of receiving your letter, review and consider all relevant information to the dispute, and provide you with the results of its reinvestigation within five business days of completion.
To learn more about repairing your credit, get a copy of Credit Repair, by Robin Leonard and attorney Margaret Reiter (Nolo). This handy self-help book includes all the forms letters you need to clean up your credit report.