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A credit judgment can knock a few points off your credit score. Whether this negative remark is legitimate or a reporting error, a judgment makes it difficult to improve a low credit score. Fortunately, there are ways to remove a judgment from your credit report and boost a FICO score.
- Contact the original creditor and report an error: If a credit judgment mistakenly appears on your report, contact the reporting creditor or collection agency immediately. Creditors and collection agencies have to respond to all disputes. And if an error occurred, they have to contact the credit bureaus and remove the negative remark.
- Pay off the old debt: If the judgment is legitimate, make plans to pay the debt. Agree to pay the full balance in installments, or contact the creditor and negotiate a settlement, in which you pay less than the balance owed. In return, they submit a letter of satisfaction to the credit bureaus and request removal of the negative remark.
- Use a credit repair agency. These agencies have tools and techniques for getting erroneous remarks removed from consumer credit reports. If the creditor or collection agency ignores your dispute letters, or doesn’t remove the judgment, hire a credit repair agency to fix your credit. Credit repair agencies charge a monthly fee, but they’re very effective and cheaper than an attorney.
- Hire a good attorney: Sometimes, you need the help of a professional to remove an erroneous remark from your credit report. Attorneys have clout, and stubborn creditors are more likely to respond to their letters or telephone calls. If you’ve paid the debt, retain a copy of the payment receipt or cancelled check.
- Wait for the remark to fall off your credit report: Negative remarks remain on credit reports for up to ten years. In the case of a judgment, they usually fall off after seven years. If you’re unable to pay off a credit judgment, wait until the credit bureaus delete the negative remark.