Settled debts and negative information can be removed from credit reports but only if these are outdated as defined by law, inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable. Pursuing these can be complicated and time-consuming, which is why many consumers resort to using the services of a credit repair company. Generally, the Fair Credit Reporting Act provides that negative information in credit reports can be included for seven years, except in certain cases.
Information on bankruptcy may be in a credit report for up to ten years in the case of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Information about an unpaid judgment can be included in credit reports for seven years from the date the judgment was filed.
Any outdated negative credit report entry can be disputed for free. Get a dispute form from the reporting agency or write a dispute letter yourself, making sure it is supported by the correct documentation. Where at all possible, it is better to send copies rather than the originals of these supporting documents. Each of the disputed items has to be clearly identified. Explain why these are disputed and seek a reinvestigation.
Should the reinvestigation prove an error, all recipients of your report in the previous six months will be sent an updated version if you request it. If you are a job applicant, you can further ask that the corrected version of the report be sent to those who received the report for employment evaluation purposes in the past two years.
The reporting agency is also obliged to provide you with written results and a free copy of your updated report. The disputed information cannot be put back without the credit bureau sending you a written notice on the re-inclusion, at the same time giving you the name, address, and phone number of the information provider who must also verify the accuracy and completeness of what was re-added.