You may have been laid off, endured a tough divorce or simply fell behind on paying your bills. Those lapses in payment to your creditors may have happened a decade ago, a year ago or in the past couple of months. You get back on your feet but those old delinquencies still haunt you. Can you get your past mistakes erased from your credit report?
Yes, you can, but it may take some time. Delinquent debts can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can stay on your credit report up to ten years. You can better your credit report and increase your chances to get loans for the things you need using these eight steps.
1. Get your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies--Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. By law you can request a free report from each of the agencies every 12 months.
2. Determine if the information is correct. The date you became delinquent and continued to be delinquent is the date that the seven year clock begins. The ten year anniversary of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the day it is filed.
3. Let the credit bureaus know about the errors. Do not call, email or use the online capabilities that the bureaus afford you. Write them a letter sending it return receipt requested, keeping a copy for your file.
4. Write a letter to the debtor or collection agency. Since delinquent accounts are often sold to different collectors, you may have to do some detective work to find out who has the loan.
5. What if the mistake is not corrected? Keep contacting the creditor and or collection agencies. Be persistent. Write the president of the company if necessary.
6. Get the government involved. The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You can also call your state attorney general.
7. Talk to a credit professional. He or she can act on your behalf and help you get the negative information corrected or removed from your credit report.
8. In some cases, you may have to get an attorney. Make sure you keep a file of all of the paperwork and documentation related to this debt.
Many people chose to pay off the old debt and that is fine. But don't expect that to help your credit score immediately. Older debts have less effect on your credit score. Renewing the debt by making a payment brings the date of last activity more current and starts that seven year clock start ticking again and it may temporarily lessen your credit score. Hiring a professional to do your credit restoration will help you avoid the pitfalls of doing "what makes sense".