By Ryan C. Wood
As bankruptcy lawyers we have potential clients and clients ask us about their credit scores and negative history on their credit reports almost daily. The Fair Credit Reporting Act controls how long negative history can remain on your credit report. The limit is seven years. In 2005, Congress reformed the Bankruptcy Code to extend the number of years a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case stays on your credit report to 10 years. Your negative history regarding the individual accounts should be deleted or fall off in seven years. If not, then you need to dispute the negative credit history.
How do you dispute negative credit history? The first think you need to do is go to the Federal Trade Commission’s website and search “credit repair.” Then scroll down a little and there will be a choice that says “Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself.” A page of the FTC website will come up that provides step by step instructions on what you need to do. The FTC even provides a sample letter for you to use and the addresses and contact information for all three credit bureaus.
Basically you need to write a letter to all three credit bureaus disputing the negative history appearing on your credit report. The FTC provides the names and addresses for each. Once the credit bureau receives your letter they will conduct an investigation to determine if the history is correct. Negative history that cannot be substantiated should be removed. Negative history that should have been removed will only drag down your credit score.
Make the credit bureaus do their job and investigate the negative history on your credit report. Mistakes are made all the time and can be very costly. A thirty point difference in your credit score can cost you thousands of dollars in increased interest rates over the life of a loan. If you have filed bankruptcy then this is especially important. Most bankruptcy lawyers recommend that their client check their credit reports at least three to four months after the order of discharge is signed by the bankruptcy court.