5 Actionable Steps to Improve Your Credit Report in the USA

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There big items such as a bankruptcy, foreclosure or repossessions that can show on your credit that you know cause huge problems. However, some of these can be easily removed from your credit report. This guide looks at actionable ways to improve your credit report today.

1 – Remove Charge Offs From your Credit Report

There is a great deal of confusion among consumers about how to handle charge-offs on a credit report. It is well known that a charge off is considered to be negative credit but what is the best way to handle it? Should I pay off this bad debt? Should I not pay off this bad debt? Well the answer may confuse you as the answer to both questions is “yes”!

What Is A Charge Off

What does charge off mean? The definition “charge-off” just refers to a debt that the lender has been unable to collect. Often they will give up trying to collect the debt and refer the bad debt to a collection agency. Many times this makes it worse for the consumer as both the original debt owner and the collection agency can report the bad credit. This will make 2 negative marks on the credit for just one charge off account.

Your credit can be affected by a charge-off for as long as 7 years. You can get an old charge-off removed from your credit, however this is simpler to do if the charge off is a paid charge-off. Even so the problem with paying off an old charge-off is that the account then is shown as current and the cycle of 7 years begins again so a “paid charge-off” will show for another 7 years regardless of how many years it was on there before.

So what is the best way to handle this situation? Well before you pay off the old debt make sure that you get an agreement in writing from both the original lender and all of the collection agencies that says that once the debt is paid they will delete it from your credit report immediately. This technique is referred to as a “pay for delete“ and it is the best way to pay off an old charge-off.

When the creditor agrees to remove the charge off on credit report remember 2 things:

1. Get the agreement in writing. You will likely need to begin on the phone to ascertain the correct person with whom you should be negotiating. However, once you know who that person is, send everything in writing and request they do likewise.

2. Request that the creditor list your account as “Paid as Agreed” or “Account closed – Paid as Agreed.” Any other listing will be a negative mark on your credit report.

Are you aware of the fact that you have the right to dispute any items shown on your credit report? The Fair Credit Reporting Act was enacted to provide consumers the right to dispute anything that shows on your credit report, including charge-offs, collections, tax liens, judgments, repossessions, foreclosures and even bankruptcies. You can attempt to repair your credit yourself or you can hire a professional credit repair company.

How to Remove Charge Offs

In order to dispute items and removing charge offs from credit report, you will need to contact the credit reporting agencies. You can do this by a phone call or contacting them online but the most effective way to approach them is to send a formal letter. This way you will always have proof. The credit reporting agencies have 30 days to investigate your claims so be sure to document all dates.

During that 30-day period the credit reporting agency is required to contact the original lender and the collection agencies with your disputes. They will also check out any public records. It is up to you to follow up with them and make sure that everything is being completed. Credit repair takes some time to complete but if you don’t follow up it can end up taking even longer.

You can repair your credit on your own but there are professional credit repair companies that have the legal expertise and knowledge to help in the process. It may be worth your time to contact one of these companies first to see if they can make it easier for you.

2 – Remove Tax Liens From your Credit Report

Nobody ever wants to back taxes to the IRS. The IRS can be aggressive and brutal when it comes to collecting their taxes. They will make sure that you pay up and it can be very distressing to have tax liens showing up on your credit or against your property.

A tax lien on your credit report will stop you from getting a home mortgage, car loans, student loans and even credit cards. An unpaid tax lien can show on your report for as long as 15 years but even if you pay it off it will show for 7 years or longer unless you dispute it.

In most cases you are better off to settle the tax lien rather than fight it. Sometimes you can negotiate with the IRS and settle for a lesser amount but you can rarely get away with not paying them at all. The IRS will always find you and they will hound you until you pay them off or your die in which case they will still try to get their money from your estate. That is just the way it is. Everyone has heard about “death and taxes”.

After you pay the tax lien off the negative listing can still be showing on your credit. It is up to you to do whatever you can to get this negative listing deleted by using credit repair techniques or the negative listing will negatively affect you for 7 years or longer.

In order to get a tax lien deleted from your credit report you must submit a dispute to the credit reporting agencies. Make sure you submit a duplicate copy to all of the big three, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You have the right to dispute any inaccurate or misleading credit because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Learn about your rights and enforce them so that you can have peace in your financial future.

Credit reporting agencies are famous for reporting inaccurate information but the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to dispute any unfair or inaccurate items. After you pay off a tax lien you can petition to have it removed from your report. It is your responsibility to do it so that you can clean up your credit and move on.

Credit reporting agencies are in the business to make money from compiling your information and selling it. They don’t care if it is correct or not. If your credit report is listing negative information that is inaccurate you need to do what you can to repair the damages. It is up to you to make sure that your credit is looking as good as possible.

You can make an effort to repair your credit and get negative items deleted either by employing a professional credit repair company or by doing it yourself. Either way you are responsible for making sure that your credit report and credit scores are shown in the best possible light so it is wise to take steps to repair any problems on your report including tax liens.

3 – Remove Repossessions From your Credit Report

A repossession is bad enough but one of the worst things is that the negative mark on your credit can remain for as many as 7 years and prevent you from getting another car loan, a home mortgage or even a credit card.

As long as this negative rating remains on your report it will affect your overall credit score and prevent you from getting additional credit, however, it is possible to get a repossession removed from your report and it happens all the time. Through credit bureau disputes and creditor negotiations, you may be able to remove the repossession entirely or at the very least, improve the status of the repossession.

You can do all of the work to repair your credit and get repossessions removed on your own or you can employ a professional credit repair company.

Either way, the first thing you will need to do is contact the original creditor and negotiate with them to see if they may be willing to delete the account or report it as “paid in full” upon payment or partial payment of any money due.

If the repossession is showing on your account but it is false you will only need to dispute directly with the credit bureaus. After they receive your dispute it is up to them to verify the accuracy with the creditor.

Negative marks on credit reports are disputed and removed all of the time. This includes repossessions, collection accounts and even tax liens or more. There is no need to be afraid about trying to repair your credit if you are having challenges with your report. Many people experience hard times in their lives where they have some financial challenges but there is no need to suffer longer than you have to. Make an effort to clean up your credit and keep it clean and your life will be easier.

A fresh financial future is accessible to you as you get your credit repaired. You will now be able to get financing on cars, houses and more with ease. After you repair your credit though it is important to keep it good by being very careful when and where you use credit and if you are unsure of your ability to make the payments waiting until you can pay cash.

The unprecedented offer of helping you make your car payments by the car manufacturers will not last. It is a short-term fix for a current problem and hopefully the economy will recover so that such offers become obsolete again. The best way you can help yourself is to repair your credit and keep it good for the future by living within your means.

You can get repossessions and other bad marks removed from your credit report if you need to. It just takes some time and expertise. Sometimes these problems are unavoidable, they just happen. But if you make a budget and stick to it then barring any unforeseen circumstances you can avoid further credit problems.

4 – Remove a Bankrupcy From your Credit Report

Declaring bankruptcy can be a gut-wrenching decision. It carries such a negative connotation and it is often seen as the last resort. However, how much more destructive is it really than trying to hold on and catch up to pay off your current debt?

Credit problems can cause an excess of stress. When you have problems paying your debts each and every month and the creditors are calling on the phone everyday your life can be awful. So long as you have any delinquencies the stress remains, and these problems can remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years.

After a bankruptcy you can start to rebuild better credit. You can also find relief from the credit problems you are having because the slate will be erased. You start building good credit again and the easier it gets. The bankruptcy itself will stay on your credit for 7 to 10 years but the good credit you start to build afterwards really helps improve your financial future. You can start living so that you can start prospering again.

So whether you decide to declare bankruptcy or you continue to try to play catch-up you will have credit difficulties that haunt you. The difference is that with a bankruptcy you can begin again with a clean slate and otherwise you will have delinquency problems following you around for years. Some problems can’t really be fixed and the only answer is to just start over.

Analyse Your Credit Report

The first thing to do is read your credit report carefully. Make sure everything is in order including your address. Often, your debts and credit history is tied with your address. Take note of the accounts that are “included in bankruptcy” and place them in dispute. Creditors have very little resources to verify the veracity of these accounts. Dispute anything that is not accurate so that you’d remove bankruptcy from your credit report.

You can start to repair your credit right away after filing bankruptcy. You should go to your local bank or credit union and see if they will give you a small loan to pay off. You will probably be required to pay a higher interest rate but make sure that you borrow less than $1000 and pay if off as soon as possible after 3 to 6 months. The higher interest rate should not affect you too much because of the small amount that you borrowed and the fact that you are going to pay it off as soon as you get a few timely payments reported on your credit report.

Consider Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards can also be a good way to start to rebuild. Deposit some cash into an account with a company that offers secured credit cards and you have the rebuilding of your credit process started. Sometimes you can get these cards for as low as $350 to $500. Just make sure that you keep your payments on time.

Your credit report will start showing improvement immediately as soon as you begin to do these things. Your report will still show the bankruptcy but you will be working towards better things. If you just try to struggle through your excessive credit problems it may be noble and you may think that you are doing the right thing but in the long run, you may be just prolonging the pain. You can rebuild after bankruptcy but you can’t ever repair your credit if you are continually playing catch-up.

Bankruptcy is a serious consideration and it can be an excruciating decision to make. However, you will be able to start over and rebuild with a clean slate and sometimes that can be the best solution.

5 – Remove Judgements From your Credit Report

It can be difficult to remove judgments from your credit report. If you can avoid getting a judgment placed on your credit in the first place, this is the best thing you can do because it can be extremely detrimental to your credit report. If you’re being sued, you should contact the lawyer or agency suing you first to see if they can remove the case by settling the amount with you first before it goes into the court system.

Once a judgment is noted on your credit report the statute of limitations can be anywhere from 5 to 20 years depending upon the laws of the state that you live in. In many states, judgments can also be renewed if the creditor decides they want to re-file the suit -potentially making the judgment permanent until satisfied so if you have been sued, it’s best to just pay it as quickly as possible. Here are a few things you can do to make the situation better if it has already been put on your credit report.

Check Your State’s Statute of Limitations

Always be sure to look up your state’s statute of limitations – the length of time that legal proceedings can be initiated, thus stating if the creditor can file a lawsuit with you or not.

If the statue of limitations has passed (most are around four to seven years), you can dispute the judgment with your credit reporting bureau. This is important because sometimes the courts and credit bureaus are not consistent with their filings. Often, credit lawyers will try to get around legal rules in order to try and get you to pay the debt.

You will have thirty days for the bureau to report it to the courts and decide whether the debt is valid or not. If it’s not verified by then, the credit bureau must delete it.

Negotiate With Your Creditor

If the debt is still valid, you could try and negotiate with the creditor to get the judgment dismissed. You and the debtor, in writing, would work out a payment, and in turn the debtor would dismiss it, having it be declared “legally void”.

Once you pay a judgment it’s still on your credit as a satisfied judgment. It can stay on for seven years, from the date the judgment has been satisfied, meaning paid off, but usually not before then. There’s not much you can do to remove judgments from credit once they’ve gone on.

Contact a Credit Lawyer

Another idea may be to contact a credit lawyer. They will do all the work for you, and they know the ins and outs of the law and the procedures and paperwork involved, so a good credit lawyer may be a great help in getting your credit cleaned up.

Technically it is very difficult to get a public record entry removed from your credit. An experienced and reputable credit repair law firm may be able to help to get the judgment removed depending upon the circumstances but they cannot guarantee that they will succeed.

Wait It Out

Sometimes the only option is to pay the judgment and then wait out the seven years, in the meantime being sure to keep paying your other debts on time and keep tabs on your credit. Make sure once you pay off the judgment that it’s listed on your report as paid and satisfied.

6 – Remove Collections From your Credit Report

Remove Collections From Credit Report By Following These Steps

In order to remove collections from credit you must know a few basic concepts first. Of course, you want to remove any prior collection off of your credit report because it hurts your credit score. As a collection ages the less it effects your credit rating, but it will remain on your credit report for seven years from the first delinquency.

Your top choice for dealing with a collection is to remove it from your report. Even though a collection may hurt your score less as it gets older, as long as it is on your report it is there for potential lenders to see. It may be the deciding factor on whether you get that crucial loan or not.

If It Is Not Your Collection Account, Then Dispute It!

If the collection on your credit report is not your debt then you are not obligated to pay it, and the collectors hounding you for it are not legally permitted to list it on your credit report. You can use a credit report dispute in order for the major credit bureaus to delete it from your report.

Legally, even if the debt is yours that does not necessarily mean they are able to collect from you. If you have been contacted by the debt collector within the last 30 days you can request the debt be validated. What this does is to force the collector to actually prove the debt is yours and that you owe it. If the collector does not validate the debt or you do not receive a response from them, the debt must be deleted from your credit report, and it will no longer affect your credit rating.

The Seven Year Dispute

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates that past due accounts that are older than 7 years be removed from a credit report. This is seven years from the first delinquency date. Sometimes collectors will try to manipulate the system and re-age a debt so that it remains on your credit report for longer than it should.

If you have a collection on your credit report that is older than 7 years you can dispute the debt and have it removed from your report. Any supporting evidence of the first delinquency you may have will help you achieve these results.

If a Collector Sells Your Account, Dispute

Collectors will often sell your debt to another collector. It is estimated that this happens as often as every 6 months. Since your debt exchanges hands so frequently the agency reported collecting your debt on your credit report is probably not even the owner of your debt anymore. If this is the case, you can normally have the collection deleted from your report by disputing it with the major credit bureaus.

Pay to Get Your Collection Removed

If you are unable to remove a debt off of your credit report by disputing it, ask your collector to remove the account from your credit report in return for payment. This is called a “pay for delete”. Send your offer in writing by certified mail. Ask for a return letter signed to the agreement in order to finalize everything.

Even if you negotiate over the phone, make sure you have a letter from the collector agreeing to your proposal. Don’t make payment until you’ve received a signed letter of agreement from the collector. Once you have actually paid the debt make sure it has been removed from your credit report. If it hasn’t, you can dispute it with the credit bureaus and provide the proper evidence and they should take it off of your report.

Your Last Resort

If you’re not able to remove a collection from your credit by dispute you may just have to pay it. When a lender checks your credit report and sees you’ve taken care of your debt this will work in your favor.

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