1. Negative accounts over seven years old.
For unpaid debts and delinquencies, seven years is the magic number for items to fall off your credit report. (Some bankruptcies stay on for 10 years.) In fact, most credit bureaus start erasing those pesky old negative items after six months and change. But if you see an item still reporting, simply dispute it with the credit bureaus. You’ll want to verify the time the debt was unpaid, when it was charged off to collections, etc. in order to make an accurate case. But most likely the creditor has no interest (nor the time or resources) to even respond to the dispute, and you’ll be free of the negative item.
2. Fraudulent items.
Identity theft and financial data breaches are the fastest growing crimes in the world, so much so that it’s estimated 1 in 10 Americans will have their identities or financial records compromised this year. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has seen these as the top complaints 14 years running! To counter the bad guys, the FCRA regulates that credit bureaus are legally required to block account information within four days if a consumer reports an identity theft. So if your identity is stolen or someone starts making charges on your credit card, the first stop is the police and the second is the credit bureaus and the FCRA to get the items removed.
3. Credit inquiries.
Sometimes it’s necessary to have our credit report checked several times, especially if we’re shopping around for big ticket items like a mortgage, car loan, or student loan. Always try to keep these inquires within a short time frame so they don’t negatively affect your score, but for some reason if all of the accounts and cards you’ve applied for catch up with you, there is good news: Soft inquiries don’t hurt your score at all, and hard inquiries report for two years but only impact your score for 12 months. So just wait it out…and stop allowing credit checks!
4. Withdrawn federal tax liens.
The IRS has instituted relaxed standards for unpaid tax collection within the last few years. Due to their newfound leniency, you can have a tax lien removed form your credit report if you pay in full or enter into a repayment agreement that is honored. The credit bureaus are aware of this IRS change and have their own systems in place to remove those liens before they naturally fall off in 7 years, like any negative item.
5. Vacated and satisfied judgments.
A judgment can be nasty business, the end result of a private party suing you (and you lost), or a legal action by a collection agency or other creditor. These judgments are public record so they end up on your credit report and plummet your score. However, the credit reporting agency will take judgments off your report if it’s proven that it was vacated (never existed) or even if it’s satisfied (paid) and still reporting negative, in some cases.
6. Unsubstantiated items.
Whether or not a reported item on your credit is accurate has little to do with the process of having it removed. That’s because the regulations for what can be reported put the onus on the creditor once that item is disputed by the consumer. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a creditor has a certain amount of time to respond to official disputes with verifiable evidence of the item. If they can’t – or don’t get to it in time – the item is automatically stricken from the consumer’s credit report.
7. Authorized user accounts.