Entries on your credit report are critical when it comes to improving or reducing your credit score. After all, these credit reportings are what Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian base their credit ratings on when your credit report is pulled. Errors and other types of negative entries have the potential to decrease your credit score dramatically if they’re not promptly addressed.
If you’ve found yourself needing to remove something from your credit report and aren’t sure how to do it, you’re not alone. There are many people out there who need to remove accounts from their credit report for a variety of reasons.
In this article, we’ll discuss why you might remove closed accounts from your credit report, as well as what accounts you shouldn’t remove from your report. The ultimate goal is to improve your credit score with each entry, so making each one work to its full advantage is key to boosting your score and qualifying for better interest rates on things like auto loans, home loans, and more.
Why Remove Closed Accounts From Your Credit Report
The biggest reason to remove a closed account from your credit report is to negate the negative effects it has upon your credit score. In other words, the idea is to boost your credit score by removing these accounts.
Accounts may require removal for a number of reasons, including:
- Errors or mistakes: Creditors are humans too, so sometimes mistakes make their way onto your credit report. Examples of this might be misreporting that you made a late payment, or that your account is in collections.
- Identity theft: Identity theft is much more serious, and can cause real havoc when it comes to your credit report. Most identity theft occurs in order to make unauthorized purchases, so you can be sure some, or perhaps even all, of your financial accounts will be affected.
- Negative payment history: This includes delinquent activity such as late payments, repossessions, foreclosures, and short sales. Charge-offs are also included in your negative payment history.
Credit bureaus are not allowed to maintain information that they cannot verify. If a credit bureau contacts a creditor that mistakenly shows up on your credit report and they cannot verify you have an existing account, chances are you should be successful in your efforts to remove that inaccurate account from your report.
When Not to Remove Closed Accounts From Your Credit Report
Just because an account is closed doesn’t mean it’s a delinquent account. Some closed accounts were done so in good standing, which actually helps to improve your current credit score.
Closed accounts in good standing can affect your credit utilization ratio, your credit age, and your account mix. If your closed account was from 10 years ago, removing that from your credit report could decrease the average age of your credit history, which makes up for 15% of your total credit score.
High limits on a closed account can also help your credit score if you’re carrying balances on your other credit cards. The high limit will still be a factor in your debt to credit limit ratio, which works to increase the ratio in your favor.
Those with limited credit history should be most cautious about what closed accounts they remove. Again, you’ll want to keep accounts in good standing there to work with you in boosting your credit score.
If you’re concerned about hard inquiries on your credit report, it’s typically not worth it to have them removed. These will go away in two years from the inquiry date, which is plenty of time to recover, especially since they only ding your credit score a few points anyway.
What Factors Determine Your Credit Score
There are many factors that determine your credit score, each with their own weight rating upon your final score. Let’s take a quick look at how each factor affects your overall score.
|Credit Score Factor||Percentage Makeup of Credit Score||Description of Credit Score Factor|
|Payment history||35%||Paying on-time versus late payments|
|Amounts owed||30%||The total amount you owe across all credit cards, loans, etc.|
|Length of credit history||15%||How long you’ve had credit for|
|Credit mix||10%||Lenders want to see that you can handle credit cards, loans, and other types of credit|
|New credit||10%||Any new credit you’ve signed up for, including credit cards and loans|
Payment history and amounts owed make up over half of the factors used in calculating your credit score. That’s why removing closed accounts with a longer credit life can have such a huge impact on your credit score in a negative way.
Lenders typically update their accounts every month, so it may take a bit for your credit score to change, for the worse or the better.
How to Remove Closed Accounts From Your Credit Report
Creditors are not obligated in any way to remove closed accounts, but it can be worth it to try. Just remember that you’ll have to contact each credit bureau individually in order to clear up any issues with your credit report. You can contact them online, by phone, or through the mail.
It’s free to file a dispute form online with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Many people also find it to be one of the easiest ways to remove a closed account from their credit report, especially since you can upload documents digitally without having to gather a bunch of documents together to send through the mail.
Though basic information will be required from you, remember to include the following in your dispute form to streamline the process:
- Personal details, such as name, phone number, and address
- Details of the dispute, including account numbers affected by the report
- A copy of your credit report with the inaccurate information circled or highlighted
- A written explanation of why the information is incorrect
- Any supporting documents necessary to proving inaccuracy of closed account
Credit reporting agencies are legally required to investigate your claim, which can take upwards of 30 business days to complete. Wait until after 30 days have passed before you contact the agency again to request an update on the status of your dispute.
If you prefer talking on the phone, you can easily speak to a representative in order to complete the dispute process. Here are the phone numbers for each of the three main credit reporting agencies:
The dispute process should be similar to what you’d experience in the online version, but you may be able to expedite the process if you give their customer service lines a call. Expect to potentially have to submit written documentation supporting your dispute, even though you’re speaking to a representative on the phone. This is especially true if you’re dealing with stolen identity.
Many folks find it useful to gather documents and send them through snail mail instead of having to worry about uploading documents online.
This is especially true of “goodwill” letters, which kindly ask a creditor to remove an account from their report to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. However, you should know that these types of letters are best used for late or missed payments, and not collections, repossessions, or other negative payment situations. If you failed to pay your creditors, they’re typically not going to excuse your account from their records, especially if you still owe them money.
Here are the mailing addresses for the three main credit reporting agencies:
|P.O. Box 9701 Allen, TX 75013||P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016||P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30372-0256|
Alternatively, you can also take advantage of something called a “pay for delete” letter, which asks the creditor to remove a negative account if a certain amount is paid in settlement. Basically, you’re asking the creditor to take a lump sum and forget about the debt, specifically in reporting it to the three main agencies. Again, you’ll achieve varied success with this tactic depending on how much you owe and for how long you’ve owed on that account.
Other Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
Besides keeping an eye on your credit report and disputing any fraudulent closed accounts, there are a few other ways you can improve your credit score to qualify for better loan terms.
Credit Building Apps
Knowing how to improve your credit score can seem like a monumental task. This is especially true if you have a lower credit score and want to improve it specifically for a large purchase in the future, such as a car or home.
Credit building apps guide you in terms of what actions you should take in order to improve your credit score. For example, Grow Credit allows you to pay for your subscriptions with an interest free MasterCard. The payment is automatic, so you can build up a positive payment history.
Annual Fee: $0
Regular APR: 0%
Pros: Starter credit card to build credit
If you’re looking for more suggestions on a free platform, you should check out Credit Sesame. Their Sesame Cash Credit Builder allows you to shop with your debit card to build your credit back up while earning cash back and other rewards.
Other common credit building apps include SeedFi, Kikoff, Self, Extra, and Credit Strong. Each of these apps will help you improve your credit in some way so that you can qualify for better rates in the future.
Kikoff is the only credit building program intentionally designed to keep your utilization rate low so you can build credit easily.
- No credit check required so most people can be approved
- Products in the store are relatively cheap
- Monthly minimum payment is only $5
- Must purchase an item through the proprietary store which only includes self-help eBooks
Credit Karma provides free credit monitoring services so you can receive notifications of any updates to your credit report. This is a great way to ensure that your credit isn’t being used to buy fancy things for someone you don’t know.
See your free credit scores, reports and personalized tips and tools to help you achieve your financial goals. Start making progress today.
You should monitor your credit frequently to ensure your accounts are current and correct. This can be an easy way to catch identity theft as well, so be on the lookout for accounts you’re unfamiliar with and investigate and report them immediately.
Create a Game Plan
Taking hold of your credit doesn’t have to mean you cut up all your credit cards and resort to using cash only for transactions. You can do this if it appeals to you, but there are other ways to tackle improving your credit score as well.
For example, creating a game plan to increase your credit score could mean a few different things. Maybe you pick up a side hustle in order to contribute more to paying off student loans. Perhaps you set up a savings plan where money is automatically transferred to a savings account. No matter how you achieve your goal, create a plan to get you there.
Closed accounts will stay on your credit report for a minimum of seven years. Most negative accounts will remain for seven years, although bankruptcy will only expire after 10 years. Most positive closed accounts will stay on your credit report for 10 years as well.
Late payments stick to your report for seven years.
No, not necessarily. Most closed accounts in good standing actually still contribute positively to your credit score, even though they’re not in service anymore.
Take Your Future Into Account
Your credit report is a snapshot of your credit history and habits and qualifies you for better interest rates on loans the higher your credit score. We hope this article has helped you to carefully consider the closed accounts on your credit report, specifically in terms of how to remove them if you want to.
Whether you choose to do something about your closed accounts or let them help your credit score stay high, it’s all about having control over what’s rightfully yours. The more you know about how to use credit to your advantage, the more you can do to improve your financial future for years to come.