Your credit report is a complete snapshot of your financial wellbeing. It includes things like your open accounts, your payment history, loans, credit cards, automobile financing, and personal details like your name, date of birth, social security number, home address, and it can also include public records. However, do you know how to remove a public record from your credit report?
What Types of Public Records Can Appear on My Credit Report?
Credit reporting agencies farm out information from credit card companies, banks, other lenders, and also government and third-party sources. Some of this information is public records such as judgments, liens, lawsuits, bankruptcies, and foreclosures. All of this could potentially wind up in your credit report for potential creditors to see.
Bankruptcies and Foreclosures
The most damaging public records that show up on your credit report are bankruptcies and foreclosures. They can stay on your report for seven years (foreclosures) and up to 10 years for some types of bankruptcy. Before choosing bankruptcy or foreclosure, try a short sale of your house or anything else to avoid these two items that can impact your credit for many years.
Currently, the credit bureaus have stopped reporting tax liens, but that does not mean they won’t reinstate that information any time soon. So, if you are subject to one, resolve it as quickly as possible. Tax liens used to stay on your report indefinitely unless you contacted the IRS and paid the tax off, then kept clean for three years.
Lawsuits and Civil Judgments
In 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported that the three big credit agencies removed information pertaining to civil lawsuits and judgments against consumers. This entry includes small claims court issues. Before this, they remained on your credit report for up to seven years!
Understand that even when all these items were a part of your credit report, the nitty-gritty details were excluded, and all that was included was the debt owed and any financial obligations which resulted from the issue.
Can Public Records be Removed from Credit Report? How to Clear It
The most effective way to avoid this is not to file for bankruptcy, go through a foreclosure or not pay your taxes. If you do get into trouble in one of the ways above, try and resolve it as quickly as possible so that it does not follow you around for years to come. With legal battles, try to settle them before the court files a judgment against you.
Have your credit monitored and get a copy of your credit report from all three agencies once each year and scour it for errors. Even if there is an entry from a public record, it may not be reflected accurately. If it shows a debt that you have paid, you can dispute it with the credit reporting agency, and they, by law, must initiate an investigation and verify that it is correct. You may have to contact the courts, tax board, or individual you paid the debt to so that it is corrected with the credit bureaus.
Eventually, all information drops off your credit report (after seven years), but if your score remains low due to some past event, you can dispute that as well. Your first course of action should be to contact the lender who held the debt. If you paid it off and can prove it, make sure they update their records so that the credit reporting agencies have updated information. Sometimes this can take a few phone calls to get the job done. Keep everything in writing and take good notes. You may have to wade through some red tape before you get satisfaction.
Unfortunately, you cannot remove a bankruptcy record or foreclosure. Those will stay on your record for the full period.
Some paid debts may show as unpaid, and you have the right to request that those be corrected as well. You can also hire a credit repair company to help you. Another option is to allow a reputable firm like IDStrong.com to monitor your credit report and alert you of any negative findings and events along with making suggestions for how to improve your credit score.
Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, your record should only reflect the truth, all debts, and all resolved issues. If you are not being treated fairly and you feel that you cannot get help through the credit reporting agencies, contact the FTC to file a complaint.
Removing public records from credit reports, especially the incorrect or old ones, your credit score should bounce back up quickly.