Public records that appear on your credit report include civil judgments, tax liens and bankruptcy filings.
Tax liens: the first thing you are going to want to do is to ensure that the debt as been paid in full. Next, you are going to want to go ahead and prepare to file a dispute. The federal government has a Fresh Start program that makes this process fairly straightforward. To qualify you are going to need to be current on your taxes and have received a Release of Tax Lien document. You will also need the original forms that provided notice of the lien in the first place. You will need to fill out IRS form 12277 Application for Withdrawal of Filed form 688Y, available at IRS.gov. You will then need to submit this, along with your original form and proof that you have paid off the lien to the IRS. You should then receive IRS form 10916(c) which states that the federal lien has been withdrawn. Finally, you will submit a copy of that form to the credit bureaus with a request that they remove the remove the inaccurate information from your report.
Judgements: Having a judgement on your credit report can be nearly as harmful as having a repossession or a loan default. While removing a judgement is possible, it is not as easy as removing a late payment or a credit inquiry. A judgement shows up on your credit report if a judge signs off on a statement saying that you owe a specific debt. This occurs when a lawsuit is filed against you for the purpose collecting a debt, even if you weren’t aware of the court proceedings at the time. It is important to keep in mind that just because a judgement was issues against you, that doesn’t mean that other party was paid, which is a fact that you will use to your advantage.
There are two different ways to deal with a judgement once it has hit your credit report, you can have the judgement dismissed, also known as vacated, or remove the judgment from your credit report. If you take this second route you can contact the other party with the letter used to settle an outstanding debt.
Dismiss a judgement: In order to have a judgement dismissed, you need to file a motion of dismiss the judgement in the first place. This is essentially an appeal that states the original outcome was inaccurate or unfair based on a specific number of reasons. First you will want to look through the proceedings and ensure that the person who requested the judgement in the first place went ahead and followed all the correct procedures and laws for doing so in your area. If there was mismanagement of this process, the odds are that the judge didn’t know about it when the judgment was made.
In addition to following up on the judgment process, you will need to ensure that the person filing the judgement also followed proper court proceedings as you may be able to win out based on a technicality. This is especially important if you failed to show up for your court date and the plaintiff won by default as long as you had a valid reason for now showing up for the hearing in the first place. Again it is important to familiarize yourself with local laws for this process to be effective.
When you prepare your motion to vacate it is important you follow local rules for civil procedure to the letter, the rule for your area should spell out exactly what you need to do, explain valid reasons a judgement can be vacated and will often include specific language you will need to use to file your motion.
The document you create should explain why the judgment should be be vacated, starting with the reasons why you are bringing the motion forward. You will need to state your procedural defense and explain why you missed the original hearing if that is what happened. Valid reasons include that you were not served properly, that you responded to the summons but there was no initial judgment or that you did not have time to make it to the hearing based on what you were served. There may be other valid reasons in your area as well.
You will also need to include reasons why the judgment would have been dismissed if you had been at the hearing including things like, the collection agency failed to respond to your validation request or that the debt amount exceeded local usury interest limits.
Bankruptcy: Removing a bankruptcy from your credit report is the most difficult black mark to remove. While it is far from a sure thing, a general rule is that the older the bankruptcy is, the easier it is to remove. To get started you are going to want to look for errors relating to it, if there are then you are in luck. If you find errors you can go about asking the bureau to remove them in the standard way.
Regardless if the information is correct or not, you are still going to want to ask the bureau to verify the bankruptcy as they will be unlikely to go about doing it in the right way. Assuming they come back and tell you that it has been verified by one court or another, this is almost always inaccurate as courts rarely verify bankruptcies. With this information on hand, you will want to reach out to the court that has been specified and ask them how they verify bankruptcies. You can call and ask for this information, typically from the clerk of the court. Assuming they explain that they don’t verify bankruptcies you will want to get that fact in writing.
When you receive this letter in the mail, you will then want to send it to the bureau that claimed to have verified your bankruptcy in the first place along with a letter explaining what it is and stating that, as the bankruptcy was not actually verified, you want to take it off your record as by not doing so previously, but saying that they did, they are in violated of the FCRA.