Old Bad Credit Marks - How do they go away?
July 21, 2006 11:37 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to repair very old credit problems. I was a freelance designer for a few years and I had little to no money extra to pay some of the high bills I had. I'm trying to repair the old delinquencies - is this possible? (more inside)

I had a few months in 2004 where I could not afford to pay my bills - mostly credit card bills. I have a few accounts that have 120 day delinquencies reported in 2004, but since about the end fo that year, I have made on-time payments for 24 months or better. Is there anything I can do to get these accounts out of the "adverse account" section of my credit report and in better standing? Some of these accounts have even been paid off for a year or better.
posted by jimmyhutch to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ok, I'm taking the "point you to the right forum and let you do your own legwork" approach.


As I understand it, if the delinquencies are correctly reported, they're supposed to stay. If you can convince/threaten the reporting creditor to remove them as errors, then they can come off.

P.S.: 2004 is not "very old" in credit terms. Your last 2 years of on-time payments helps your score, but it is ultimately up to creditors to determine what kind of a risk you are, ya know?
posted by trevyn at 12:34 AM on July 22, 2006

Response by poster: god, it is SO FRUSTRATING to deal with this crap.
it's like there is NO WAY to remove two bad years of your life from the record.

Sorry. Just very bummed while immersed in research.
posted by jimmyhutch at 12:57 AM on July 22, 2006

"it's like there is NO WAY to remove two bad years of your life from the record."

In the US, basically, no. Not until the 7 years is up.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:34 AM on July 22, 2006

Look at it this way: why on earth *would* they let everyone remove bad years of their life from the record? They allow you to add explanations to these past events, and as you keep making payments on time, your credit score keeps going up and up.

Like trevyn says, they're trying to assess how much of a risk you are, and that means taking all possible data into account. Surely you can see that if you could just remove your bad history then the entire system would be useless.

That said, though, you're not likely to get refused for credit just because of a few delinquencies two years ago. Too many people get hung up about having an absolutely spotless credit record, but that's not the point of the system at all.
posted by reklaw at 2:01 AM on July 22, 2006

It's a credit history. You can't change history.

If they were not sent out to collection or taken to court, they might age off sooner.

If any of the companies that are reporting late payments are somewhat smaller and/or local to your area, you might be able to contact them and ask them to stop reporting you as a favor. This can particularly work if you have new business to offer them and can show that you're solvent and ready to pay quickly or up front. Otherwise, you're basically begging for mercy.

That tactic is almost certainly not going to work with banks, larger department stores, VISA/MC, etc. though.

If you know the history is correct, and they know the history is correct, and they can prove it (they can pretty much all the time), then disputing is a waste of your time. A lot of "credit repair" strategies seem to involve disputing absolutely everything in the very, very slight chance that the company reporting on you might make a mistake and stop reporting, or might have mislaid your account documentation and be forced to stop reporting. Again, highly unlikely to work.

Court judgments will stay for the full seven. Period. They're a matter of public record. Anyone can go down to the courthouse and get the same info.

And yes, good history in the time since will help dilute any old, bad stuff--plus, once the old stuff does age away, you'll have a fairly good-looking report rather than a blank one.
posted by gimonca at 7:33 AM on July 22, 2006

Seven years is not such a long time. As a former bad credit score holder, I used the time to learn good spending habits and figure out a reliable way to handle my finances. If you are trying to buy a house or a car, I can understand your frustrations. If you just want higher credit limits, consider it a blessing. For smaller purchases, I figure if I can't pay it in cash, I can't afford it. Wait out the next five years and all will be well again.
posted by Roger Dodger at 7:36 AM on July 22, 2006

All you can do is clean up delinquencies and then pay as agreed until it drops off your record. There is, unfortunately, no silver bullet for this sort of thing.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:28 AM on July 22, 2006

seconding Roger Dodger down to the word -- it happened to me before, and this is how it goes. It's frustrating, but if you use the ensuing time to improve your skills in handing your finances, you'll be rewarded with a lot more than a good credit score in 5 years.
posted by scody at 10:44 AM on July 22, 2006

(and also seconding what reklaw said -- a few deliquincies two years ago won't affect you as adversely as, say, defaulting on your credit cards, or on a car or student loan.)
posted by scody at 10:48 AM on July 22, 2006

And, depending on where you are in payoffs and writeoffs, check for a service akin to Consumer Credit Counseling Service; they may be able to help you. Note that CCCS is non-profit; they have lots of for-profit competition these days, of varying degrees of legitimacy.
posted by baylink at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2006

Followup-question by another person:

What about things that are more than seven years old (as much as 9), and are still listed, even though you have not made any payments or been in contact with the debtor at any time during that period (i.e., haven't done anything that could possibly 'reset the clock')? How do you get those removed?
posted by dmd at 9:09 AM on July 23, 2006

dmd- you write to the credit reporting agency telling them to remove them, and the do so right away.

CRA's are Equifax, Experian, or Transunion.
posted by crazyray at 10:34 PM on July 23, 2006

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