Disputing and removing incorrect information on your credit report can be tedious and time-consuming. So having one of these items reappear on your credit report can be frustrating. This information may have negatively affected your credit and even cost you money. So now that you’ve had this “blast from the past” reappear, what do you do? This article will help you understand when items can be legitimately reinserted onto your credit history and credit profile. It will also help explain how to do credit repair and remove illegitimate items once again from your credit report.
Disputing and removing incorrect information on your credit report can be tedious and time-consuming. So having one of these items reappear on your credit report can be frustrating. This information may have negatively affected your credit and even cost you money. So now that you’ve had this “blast from the past” reappear, what do you do?
This article will help you understand when items can be legitimately reinserted onto your credit history and credit profile. It will also help explain how to do credit repair and remove illegitimate items once again from your credit report.
Credit Reporting – The Basics
Your credit score is based on information contained in your credit report. Lenders use your credit score to rate your creditworthiness and determine if you’re a credit risk. FICO and VantageScore are the most common credit scores used by lenders to make credit decisions.
Several factors go into calculating your credit score. Whenever the three credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — respond to a lender’s inquiry about your credit, they list any of the factors that most heavily influence your credit rating. FICO uses the following percentages to indicate the importance of these categories:
Payment history: 35%
Amounts owed: 30%
Length of credit history: 15%
Credit mix: 10%
New credit: 10%
Missing payments (payment history) is the most significant factor that can negatively impact your credit score. Lenders are most concerned with whether borrowers will repay debts in full and on time.
How much you owe compared to the total amount of credit available to you is another important factor in calculating your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio is the total amount of your debt divided by the total amount of your debt limits. Lenders prefer a credit utilization rate of 30% or lower. Credit mix involves your use of different types of credit like credit cards, a mortgage, and student loans.
Your credit history or the age of all your past and present accounts is another important factor that affects your credit score. The longer your credit history, the higher your credit score.
In addition to your credit history, your credit report shows personal information including your Social Security number, the accounts reported to each bureau, your overall credit usage, and a summary of your debts. This report also lists any hard inquiries, collections, and public records, like judgments, that were reported to that credit bureau.
Because there are three major credit bureaus that track information and offer credit reports to consumers, every consumer has three different credit reports. Each credit reporting agency uses a slightly different approach to calculate credit scores. This means that your credit score can vary between the three credit bureaus.
The information in your three credit reports can also vary because the creditors supplying information to a bureau may vary. Federal law does not require lenders to report account information to all three bureaus. So it is fairly common for a creditor to report to only one or two of the three credit bureaus. If a creditor only reports information to one credit reporting agency, this information will only impact your credit score from that agency.
Credit Reporting Errors & the Fair Credit Reporting Act
If you review a copy of your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax regularly, you should be able to identify any discrepancies between your three reports. This may indicate an error. Reviewing your reports every few months will help you find discrepancies that may be negatively affecting your overall credit history and credit score.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides every consumer with certain rights, including the right to obtain a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every 12 months. You can obtain them from AnnualCreditReport.com.
The FCRA also requires that the three credit reporting agencies ensure that any personal information they collect is accurate. Also, all three credit bureaus must allow you to dispute errors on your credit report.
The FCRA also gives you the right to be informed of the identity of anyone who received your credit report in the last year or in the last two years if related to employment. If a lender denies you an application for credit, it must provide the name and address of the credit bureau that supplied information on which the lender based its denial.
If you see a negative item or any inaccuracies on your credit report, you should send a dispute letter to the credit bureau and the furnisher of the inaccurate information. Both the credit bureau and the creditor are obligated by federal law to investigate the dispute.
Legitimate Reasons for Information To Reappear
Credit bureaus are required to notify you within five business days of reinserting an item on your credit report. But they don't always comply and sometimes fail to send the notification. A bureau has up to 30 days to complete a dispute investigation. A bureau may take up to 45 days to resolve a dispute if you initiate the dispute process after receiving a free annual credit report or if you submit new information relevant to your dispute during the 30-day investigation period.
Almost every investigation requires the credit bureau to contact a creditor to verify the information. If the creditor fails to respond or otherwise verify the debt within the 30-45 day time frame, the credit bureau must remove the disputed item from your credit report.
Credit bureaus aren’t required to permanently block an item from being re-reported if it was previously removed. If a creditor doesn't respond within its initial 30-or 45-day time limit but then responds within five days of the allowable period’s end (by day 35 or 50 respectively) verifying the disputed information, the bureau is allowed to reinsert the item in your credit file.
Also, if a credit bureau removes an item because the creditor supplying the information never responds to a dispute, the item may still be reinserted soon after the removal. If the creditor re-reports the item to the credit reporting agencies the following month as part of its normal credit reporting updates, the credit bureau could reinstate the item to your credit report.
Illegitimate Reasons for Information To Reappear
The three credit reporting agencies handle the credit data of millions of American consumers. Based on the scale of the bureaus’ collection, organization, and storage of this important personal data, it is not uncommon for credit agencies to make mistakes. The credit bureau may mistakenly reinsert the item in situations when it should’ve rightfully removed the item. This can happen after a creditor fails to respond to a dispute inquiry.
An old debt may illegitimately reappear on your credit report if it’s acquired by a debt buyer or collection agency that then reports the debt even though it's more than seven years old. This is past the statute of limitations, meaning it’s too old to remain on your credit report.
If you see accounts listed on your credit report that you did not open, this may be evidence of identity theft. Wrongful activity can appear on your credit report and negatively impact your credit. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), businesses are required to provide identity theft victims (or law enforcement at the victim’s request) with a copy of the relevant records related to the theft. Identity theft victims need these records to document the crime and clear their reputation.
When Should Information “Drop Off” a Credit Report?
The FCRA is the primary law that outlines how long negative events are allowed to remain on your credit report. Unlike positive information, almost all negative information must be removed from your credit report at some point. Most negative information generally stays on credit reports for seven years. But a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can stay on your report for up to 10 years.
The FCRA does not require credit reporting agencies to remove positive information. Positive accounts that have been closed or paid off still remain on your credit report for as long as 10 years.
The following is a list of events and how long they stay on your credit report:
Open accounts in good standing: indefinitely
Hard credit inquiries: 2 years
Late or missed payments: 7 years
Collection accounts: 7 years
Chapter 13 bankruptcy: 7 years
Charge-offs: 7 years
Repossessions: 7 years
Foreclosures: 7 years
Settlements: 7 years
Closed accounts in good standing: 10 years
Chapter 7 bankruptcy: 10 years
Late payments are legally permitted to remain on a credit report for as long as seven years from the date they occurred. This includes a note that one or more of your accounts was 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, or 180-plus days past due. These are the only late payments that may appear on your credit report.
While Chapter 13 bankruptcies can legally remain on your credit reports for up to 10 years, some credit reporting companies, like Experian, remove them seven years from the filing date. Charge-offs, accounts in collections, repossessions, foreclosures, and settlements are all evidence of defaulting on an account. The credit reporting agencies are not permitted to report them for longer than seven years from the original date of delinquency prior to the default.
Credit inquiries may be “soft” or “hard.” Soft inquiries don't affect your credit score. A soft inquiry occurs when you or someone else views your credit report for non-lending purposes. A hard inquiry appears when you apply for credit. Hard inquiries are visible to anyone who views your credit reports. Too many hard inquiries can lower your credit score.
Alerting the credit bureaus to inaccurate or erroneous information that should not be on your credit report can potentially help raise your credit score and improve your bad credit.
What To Do About Reinserted Information
Regularly monitoring your credit report every few months will help ensure that a previously removed item doesn’t reappear. If a removed item reappears on your credit report, the credit bureau is required to send you a five-day reinsertion notice. If you believe the reinserted item shouldn’t be on your report, you have the same rights to redispute the information with the credit reporting agency, the furnisher, or both.
When reviewing a debt, it’s important to first determine the age of the debt. Regardless of how many times a debt is sold and resold, the seven-year credit report limit begins on the date the debt became delinquent with the original creditor. With a judgment or bankruptcy filing, the time period begins the day it was filed.
In some cases, it’s faster to work directly with the creditor that furnished the information than it is to work with the credit bureaus to remove the debt from your credit report. If the creditor is a bank, it is subject to federal regulation and oversight. If you are unsuccessful in resolving your dispute, you can file a complaint with any of the federal agencies that regulate the banking institution ignoring your dispute.
If one or more credit bureaus have reinserted an old item onto your credit report, it is best to contact them by mail. If you never received the five-day letter required by the FCRA to give you notice of the reinsertion, you can send a new letter demanding that they delete the disputed item until a new investigation is conducted. This new correspondence will also serve as evidence of a new dispute. In your letter, ask the credit bureau to explain why they put the item back on your credit report.
The credit reporting agency may consider your dispute frivolous if you submit the same dispute repeatedly. As a result, the bureau may terminate its investigation. If you choose to redispute an item, you should always provide supplemental documents or other new information that reinforces your claim. If you resubmit the same dispute with no additional information your dispute will likely fail again.
If you fail to achieve your desired results, it may be a good time to contact a consumer attorney. You may also want to talk to a bankruptcy attorney if debt collectors are causing excessive aggravation and stress. Most offer free consultations. Based on any legal advice that you receive, you may want to file a lawsuit, as well as a complaint against the creditor and credit bureau with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Carefully monitoring your credit report is essential to maintaining a positive credit history. Your credit score is based on your credit reports, which contain your credit history. The three major credit reporting agencies deal with a lot of debt-collection information for millions of Americans. It’s relatively common for one of the three credit bureaus to make mistakes. One common error is reinserting a previously removed item back onto your credit report. Sometimes this is the creditor’s fault.
This is why it’s important to monitor your credit report regularly and file a second dispute when necessary. You can’t assume that something that you’ve already disputed and had removed is forever resolved and will never come back to haunt you or your credit.