How to Remove Accounts From Your Credit Report

FT Contributor
A laptop's screen reads "credit report" while sitting on a desk next to some folders.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

There are several reasons why borrowers would prefer to remove closed accounts from a credit report. If negative information from a closed account is compromising the quality of your financial reputation, debtors can take steps to have accounts removed from credit reports entirely.

Especially if that negative information is incorrect or inaccurate, borrowers should take steps to update credit reports to maintain report accuracy and preserve current credit ratings.

Removing a closed account from a credit report isn’t always easy, but the process can benefit your credit rating in a variety of ways. The below details in this article will help you navigate the credit account removal process, allowing you to refresh your credit report in light of the most recent developments in your active accounts.

You’ll learn how to remove a closed account from your credit report, how the removal will affect your credit, and when to begin the process.

Look for Errors and Dispute Inaccuracies

Learning to read your credit report — and audit reports for errors and inaccuracies — is the first step toward removing accounts from your credit report.

You’ll be comparing financial records with the items present on your credit reports, to ensure that elements like transactions, current balances, payment dates, past-due amounts, and new lines of credit all align with your financial activity and loan terms.

It’s important that you dispute errors on your credit report if you find any. Disputing a credit report starts when you learn to recognize mistakes. Then, file your dispute with the right credit bureau.

Though all credit agencies are required by law to respond to credit disputes, their response times often vary. That’s why it’s important to follow up with your credit bureau — even if you have already sent a dispute letter — with the reminder that their failure to comply with federal regulations is a breach of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Searching for errors — and taking the time to dispute them — may seem time-consuming, though it’s a critical step in the removal of outdated and closed accounts from your credit report.

A sample credit report dispute letter provides an excellent starting point for the dispute process, and can help streamline your communication with credit bureaus.

Write a Goodwill Letter

Goodwill letters are routinely used by borrowers to appeal negative marks on credit reports. Also referred to as “forgiveness letters,” goodwill letters help debtors request removal of negative marks on credit reports, once borrowers are back in good standing with credit bureaus.

Sending a goodwill letter to a credit bureau is not a guarantee that negative marks on your credit report will be removed. Deletion of items from a borrower’s credit report happens completely at the creditor’s discretion; they are not legally required to revise your credit standing in any way.

Consult the below sample goodwill letter for an example of the structure a borrower should follow during the letter-writing process.

Sample Goodwill Letter

Borrowers writing charitable, polite goodwill letters should look to follow a similar structure and tone as the below example letter:

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[Your City, State, Zip Code]
[Your Credit Account Number]

[Date]

[Creditor Name]
[Creditor Address]

To Whom It May Concern,

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I recently noticed that my credit report has a late payment, reported on[date of credit report] for my [creditor name] account.

I am aware of my repayment obligations toward you. Unfortunately, due to [reason for missed payment], I committed a mistake in falling behind. If not for this error, I would still maintain an excellent payment record. Since this missed payment, [reason situation has improved]. As a result, I have continued to make payments on time, and will continue to do so without any further issues.

I am now planning to apply for a [loan or credit line type]. However, the missed payment on my financial record could compromise my ability to qualify for better rates. I take pride in my ability to pay back debts on time, without exception. This one negative mark against my financial records does not reflect my creditworthiness, or my history of otherwise complete, on-time payments. It would help me greatly if you could make a goodwill adjustment on my account, as it does not reflect my current ability to repay loans.

I’m hoping and asking for a second chance to sustain a positive credit rating, given my current financial status and renewed good standing with my active account.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my account. Please feel free to reach out with any additional questions.

Sincerely,

[Your Signature]
[Your Printed Name]

Pay for Delete

Another method for removing accounts from your credit report, pay-for-delete allows borrowers to request the deletion of derogatory credit report marks in exchange for payment of the account.

Though this method often won’t work with your original lender, third-party debt collection agencies that report to the credit bureaus may accept your terms. However, if your debt is still owned by a creditor, it doesn’t hurt to try this with them as well. In exchange for partial or complete payment of the account, some creditors will delete individual marks — or entire accounts — from your credit report.

Similar to the goodwill letter approach, borrowers looking to establish a pay-for-delete agreement with a collection agency or creditor will need to send them a letter. Borrowers should identify in plain terms their desire to pay either a portion of, or all of, their debt in exchange for its deletion from a credit report.

Since even a single missed payment can harm a borrower’s credit score — a collection of factors that determine creditworthiness — the pay-for-delete approach can help remove those missed payments entirely from a credit report.

In other circumstances, entire accounts can be removed from credit reports if creditors accept a borrower’s terms.

Pay-for-delete agreements can help improve a low credit score, or help a borrower preserve a good credit score, even though original debts can sometimes still surface on credit reports.

Wait It Out

Under certain circumstances, borrowers may be advised to simply wait out their credit reports, until conditions improve. However, given that some black marks present on credit reports can negatively affect credit scores for up to seven years, waiting it out usually isn’t the most effective option.

Managing debt usually means taking productive steps to proactively pursue an agreement with a credit bureau, or at least pay off debts, to expedite improvements in your account. However, sometimes waiting it out might be your only option.

If a goodwill letter or pay-for-delete agreement are unsuccessful, or your credit score prevents you from consolidating debt or opening a new line of credit, waiting out the removal of an account from your credit report might be the final option available to you.

How Do Closed Accounts Affect Your Credit Score?

Closed accounts can have both short- and long-term impacts on a borrower’s credit score.

For example, closing a credit card often means lowering the total amount of credit available to you. This often causes an increase in your credit utilization ratio — the amount of available credit you’re using — which can contribute to an overall credit score decrease.

Closing an account changes the average length of your credit history, which will hurt your score. Improvements in average credit history can result in credit score improvements, just as a lowered average credit age can lower your overall credit rating.

Several financial factors influence fluctuations in a borrower’s credit rating. Specifically, there are five factors that together determine credit score:

  • Credit age;
  • Payment history;
  • Total debt;
  • New credit;
  • Type of credit.

These influences on a borrower’s credit score determine their eligibility to open new accounts in the future. Depending on the lender, a credit check may be required when a borrower applies for a new credit card or loan.

These credit checks — called hard inquiries — remain on the borrower’s financial records for up to two years before they are automatically deleted.

Debtors with more than one or two credit checks during the course of a year may experience difficulty in opening new lines of credit, especially since new accounts compromise average credit age and can signal to lenders a heightened borrower risk.

When to Remove a Closed Account

Sometimes, borrowers may benefit from closing an account. Especially if that account is responsible for negative marks present on a credit report, or if it is characterized by frequent missed or incomplete payments toward loan balances, removing an account from a credit report can help improve your credit score.

However, most of the time removing an account from a credit report can decrease a borrower’s credit score. For example, if you’re looking to cancel a credit card defined by full, on-time payments, account deletion means compromising your payment history — the most important factor in determining a borrower’s credit score.

Since reopening a credit card can be difficult, you must understand the consequences of account removal before pursuing subsequent steps.

How to Prevent Closed Accounts in the Future

Closing an account is rarely easy. It means that negative marks present on a credit report are compromising a borrower’s overall credit score, to the point where serious steps are necessary to improve his or her financial records.

To avoid this hassle,  take steps to preclude the necessity of closing an account.

Avoiding future closed accounts can mean:

  • Making full, on-time payments to avoid negative marks on credit reports.
  • Preserving credit age by making payments through existing lines of credit, instead of new ones.
  • Requesting free, regular credit reports, to stay informed on any recent credit rating fluctuations or changes
  • Limiting unnecessary transactions and impulse purchases, to preserve sufficient portions of regular wages toward repaying credit balances.

These and other steps will help you practice healthy financial habits, maintain a good credit score, prioritize loan repayment, and avoid any delinquent accounts in the future.


Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/

 

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