If you’ve ever seen a credit report, you’d have to agree it looks formidable. It’s a document that runs for pages and pages full of numbers and dates going back decades. And it lists every financial relationship you have ever had and records every little mistake and oversight you ever made.
On the face of it, it seems like once something is documented in your credit report, it’s there to stay. Fortunately, that’s just not the case. In fact there are at least 10 kinds of credit problems that can be potentially removed from your report. Here’s a list of those items:
- Late Payments
- Charge Offs
- Wage Garnishments
If you notice, this list includes almost every kind of financial problem you might have encountered in the past. So the good news is no matter what kind of blotch you have on your credit report, the potential is there to clean it off.
Can I clean up every credit blemish?
Yes and no. The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that in order for a negative credit item to remain on your credit report, it must be accurate, verifiable and complete. If any of these requirements are lacking, you can demand that the credit bureau remove the item.
In other words, if there is a negative item on your credit report which is inaccurate, you can have it deleted from your history. If there are slight inaccuracies the creditor will likely correct those errors. And if they are unable to do that immediately the item is removed. Just keep in mind that the negative could reappear if the creditor later makes the corrections. But if they fail to correct the mistake, the negative gets wiped off your credit report. That’s cool.
And even if the item is accurate, the credit bureau may not be able to verify it. Believe it or not, this happens more often than you might think and let me tell you why.
When you dispute an item with a credit bureau they are required to verify it with the reporting creditor and that’s not always possible.
First, vendors lose information all the time. Even if they don’t lose the data, they may decide its more trouble than it’s worth to provide the proof. Last, companies are sold and/or go out of business all the time. When that happens, there may not be anybody there to respond to the credit bureau. You win.
It doesn’t matter. If the bureau is unable to verify the negative with the creditor for any of the reasons above or for any reason, the item has to be removed. And it doesn’t stop there.
Recall please that I mentioned how the item must be complete. Even if a negative is accurate and verifiable, it may not tell the entire story because of your unique circumstances. If that’s the case, off it comes.
Let’s say you failed to make a credit card payment because you were in the hospital and didn’t get your mail. Those are extenuating circumstances and you have a good case to argue that the negative item should be removed as long as you ultimately paid it. You may be able to make your case directly with the creditor or you may need to use an intermediary to represent you. But you do have a good shot at getting that negative item removed if it’s incomplete – even though it is accurate and verifiable.
Most people are intimidated by their credit report. I admit that it looks like a document written in stone. But you can see that it isn’t. The law provides a great deal of protection for you. Understand your rights. There is no reason for you take whatever the credit bureaus and creditors feel like dishing out. When they blow it, take them to task and force them to make it right.
Have you ever cleaned up a credit error? What happened? What was the outcome? Would you do it differently next time?