Here’s a question, from a reader who wrote me saying, “I’d like to know what options I have to clear credit. I’ve reviewed my credit reports and I’m not sure at this point what I can continue to do the process to remove things that may need to be removed.”
A: Well, for starters, if you want to remove or dispute any negative information from your credit report, you’ll need to write the credit bureaus directly. And by the credit bureaus, of course, I’m referring to the big three credit bureaus: Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian.
Each one of them has an online dispute service where you can write and contest any information in you credit report that you believe is inaccurate, that’s negative, but wrong, or certainly information that’s outdated.
So let’s say you have a late payment on your credit report that’s showing up that’s more than seven years old. Under the law, that information should not be contained in your credit report, and you’re perfectly entitled to get that information removed from your credit reports.
So erroneous information, you can go ahead and try to dispute it with the credit bureaus, especially if it’s outdated information.
In some cases, if you have information that’s negative that’s showing up on your credit report that you want removed, your best bet is to contact the person who put it on the credit report first. The credit grantor, or the furnisher, as it’s called in the industry, the supplier of that information to the credit bureaus.
So if a credit card issuer, for example, has indicated that you were 30 days late on a payment, but you say, “Hey, I wasn’t 30 days late on a payment,” then of course you should dispute that information and try to get it removed.
The reason I suggest that most people go to the credit supplier or the credit furnisher who gave the information to the credit bureaus first, is because if they’ll agree to delete the information or update your files, it’s far less likely that information will return to your credit reports later.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who go directly to the credit bureaus to have disputed information deleted from their credit files sometimes look back three, six, nine months later and see that the information has popped up again on their credit reports.
You certainly don’t want that to happen, and I think the easiest way to do it is to make sure that the person who reported it recognizes that there was something wrong and that it’s been removed from their end.
Now, lastly, if you have information that you’d like to get removed but it’s accurate, that’s far more difficult to get removed. Let’s say that you did have a late payment in the past or you had a collection account or a charge off. Sometimes what you can do in those cases is call up those creditors who put the negative information on there and negotiate with them.
If it’s an outstanding bill that you haven’t paid, you might offer to go ahead and pay the money off in full and then that way you can get the information removed from your credit report.