How to Remove Negative Items from Your Credit Report?

How to remove negative items from your credit report
Published by: Ricky Ingram
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Looking to remove negative items from your credit report? There are two main categories of items that can be removed—negative items that are your fault and negative items that are not. This article will detail the steps you need to take to get rid of items that are possible to have removed.

You can take a DIY approach to this, or, you can recruit the help of credit repair companies to hold your hand during the process. Whichever you decide to do, know that no matter how bad your score is, action can be taken to boost it. All it will take is some patience and hard work.

How to Remove Negative Items From Your Credit Report Yourself

Figuring out how to navigate the world of credit reporting agencies and scores is difficult for professionals, so it will definitely be no walk in the park for laypeople. Unfortunately, having a good score is important for obtaining financial freedom and living the life you want.

Credit bureaus are tasked with keeping information about your account and analyzing your financial management skills to help potential lenders determine whether they should trust you to cooperate with the terms of your agreements. If a credit bureau has not given you its gold star of approval, then you are going to have a difficult time making large purchases or taking out loans to start on dream projects. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your score!

Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report

Before removing things from your credit report, you first need to get your physical report into your hands (or computer). You can get sent a free copy of your history from all the major credit bureaus every year. Moreover, depending on which financial services you have relationships with, it is possible to get your hands on a few additional copies per year.

By utilizing these reviewing services, you can avoid incurring hard inquiries on your account. This is important, as hard checks lead to a decrease in your overall score number. It would be counterproductive to decrease your score while fighting tooth and nail in an attempt to boost it.

Identify Negative Items You Wish to Remove

Once you have successfully obtained your free credit reports, now comes time for review. There are two main things you want to look out for while engaging in the review process. Highlight or make a digital note of cost lines from the following categories that stand out to you.

First, you will want to see if there are any negative marks that you do not recognize in your reports. These marks may include things such as purchases that you are certain that you did not authorize and late payments for which you are certain you made on time. If you see any mistakes such as these, flag them and make a note to return to them. You should try to remove these items from your credit report.

Second, you should make note of cost lines that you are certain are affecting your cumulative score, even if they are not mistakes. While these types of marks are not challenging, you may still be able to take action to reduce or eliminate them from the credit bureau records through your own efforts.

Challenge All That You Can

Wondering how to remove items from your credit report fast? Putting together a dispute letter, also known as a challenge, is a great way to do this. Collect the negative marks that you flagged in the previous step that contain credit report errors. These errors must be mistakes made on behalf of a bureau or agency and not a genuine reflection of a mistake that you have made yourself.

Then, sit down and write your challenge, including the following information:

  • A header titled “To—” followed by a person or entity;
  • An indication that you are writing to dispute derogatory items in your credit report;
  • The item(s) that you believe are wrong along with their amounts and dates;
  • Physical proof supporting your claim that the items are inaccurate, either in your letter or attached at its end; and
  • Your signature and the date your challenge was signed.

Remember that it’s the credit bureaus who likely made the mistake, not the person reading your letter. After you submit your letter, you may have to wait approximately four weeks to hear back about whether you’ll be able to get items removed from a credit report this way.

Restructuring What You Owe

As mentioned above, you cannot remove derogatory items from a credit report via a challenge if they are genuine. What you can do, however, is attempt to mend these items through an approved-of manner such as debt restructuring. Restructuring what you owe can come in many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Obtaining a lower interest rate;
  • Getting some of your owed amounts reduced through a goodwill letter; and
  • Being given more time to pay what you owe.

Should you take this approach to remove negative items from a credit report, you will still have to put in the effort to remove them. However, you will make it easier for your score to climb in the future. As you slowly chip away at the amounts that you owe, removing negative credit, you will see your score improve.

Note, however, that some above options may not be available to you depending on who you obtained your credit from. Private loaners, for example, may be completely unwilling to adjust their terms. That being said, because your debt collectors want to get paid, they may choose to compromise with you in exchange for getting some payment as opposed to none.


If you have exhausted all the above steps, and you still have bad credit, you still have one last line of defense — filing for Bankruptcy. This step should be treated as a last-stop option, as it comes with a large variety of frustrating consequences. However, if you are certain that it would be impossible for you to remove the negative items on your credit report, Bankruptcy may be the best option for you.

When you file and make your declaration, your credit history essentially will get wiped, providing you with a clean slate to start over financially — it is the best way to clean up your credit. However, during this process, you may lose a lot of your physical possessions via repossession — when your things get seized and sold for generating funds to put towards your debts.

Once you have studied how to remove negative items from a credit report extensively and have reached the conclusion that you should follow through with bankruptcy, you can begin by reading the process laid out in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy terms.

Put Better Practices Into Place

After you can get rid of whatever is dragging down your score, or the associated items expire and fall off of your account, you will be given a fresh start. Do not waste this opportunity! Instead, implement better economic management practices into your day-to-day life.

These days, most major institutions have programs set up to help you out. For example, banks have automatic payment programs so that you will never incur any late fees. Many of them also provide free counseling services for learning how to obtain your monetary goals. And, you can police yourself by reducing the number of lines you have so that you will not be tempted to spend more than you can actually afford to.

Remember — it is much easier to ruin your score than it is to remove stuff from your credit report.

How Long Do Negative Items Stay on Your Credit Report?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long you’ll need to wait when removing negative information from your credit report. Smaller marks, such as hard checks, may be removed after only two years. Larger issues, such as filing for bankruptcy as described above, can follow you for up to ten years. Depending on their severity, some things can even follow you for life, such as owed taxes. On average, the credit bureaus will keep track of your payment history and other information for about seven years.

After seven years, most items fall off of your profile. However, this does not mean that you will be gifted with a clear credit score. They fall off on a rolling basis as you incur them. So, if you have picked up several negative items steadily over some time, you’re going to remain a less trustworthy lender in the eyes of credit bureaus because your negative items will fall off one by one. You won’t wake up one day in seven years and magically have an 850 FICO score.

Should You Hire a Credit Repair Company to Remove Negative Items?

Hire a Credit Repair Company to Remove Negative Items

If you have read the above steps and feel confident in your ability to follow them on your own, then there is probably no reason for you to retain a credit repair service. However, if you feel that you would like a guiding hand, or would prefer to have experienced professionals take care of these tasks for you, then fear not, as you have plenty of affordable options.

Here is a list of some top professionals in the market of removing negative credit items:

Fortunately, it is not expensive to take a “pay for delete” route. While you are coughing up cash to pay an experienced professional, it could save you more dinero in the long run. After all, they will probably be able to do a better job identifying disputable marks or crafting successful challenges. The Fair Credit Reporting Act ensures that companies won’t make you any promises that they cannot honor, so you can trust what they say.


Hopefully, by now you have learned enough about how to remove derogatory items from a credit report to at least decide whether you want to take a DIY approach or hire help. Being in the hole financially can feel like a sentence to lifelong anxiety and worry. It is important to remember that no matter how bad your current economic standing is, it is never too far gone.

Though it may be harder for some to remove items from their credit report than others, it is never truly impossible. It just takes patience, attention to detail, and discipline.

Ricky Ingram

Founder of Credit Repair Partner. I worked in the credit repair industry for about 10 years. I love, helping people become smarter about their credit and finances.

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