How to clean up your credit report

Credit reports will record financial information about you as reported by your creditors. Most information generally will remain for 7 years. Cleaning old items can sometimes improve your credit.

If an item is positive, it could remain on your file up to 10 years after the last activity. As this has a positive impact on your credit score, you want this to remain on your credit profile. If it is positive, do nothing.

Negative items including credit cards, repossessions, foreclosures, Chapter 13 bankruptcies and paid tax liens will remain for 7 years. Chapter 7 bankruptcies will be listed for 10 years. If you have unpaid tax liens, they could be listed for 15 years.

If you have negative items that are still listed beyond the drop off date, dispute those items. Also, if you have negative items that are invalid, file disputes on those records. The credit bureaus make it easy to file a dispute once you have a credit report in hand. You can get a free copy of your credit report by visiting the annual credit report request service.

Once you have disputed an item, expect to receive notification by mail in about a month. It will contain an updated copy of your credit report which you can review and check for changes. Often the dispute does not fully correct a problem. If this happens, send a second dispute as a personal letter delivered by mail. Fully disclose what the problem is. Be very specific about what the record says, what it should say and why. You must show evidence that supports your claim. You may attach copies of any letters, emails, receipts or invoices that support your argument. Most importantly, keep a copy of everything for your records.

Contacting collectors that you still owe money to is OK if you plan to pay them back. However, if the debt is old and you do not intend to repay the debt, you should avoid contacting them. Sometimes collectors will restart that 7 year clock if you admit to owing the debt or send in a payment.

Credit repair can be a tricky endeavor, but you should never employ the services of a credit repair company. They are expensive and they cannot do anything that you cannot do yourself for free.

You can discover methods to find out how to clean up your credit report without paying hundreds of dollars. If you need help, seek assistance from a reputable credit counseling agency. They can advise you on steps to take and provide additional information. Best of all, many provide this service for free or for a nominal charge.