Credit Score

The Bad Stuff Is Off My Credit Reports – So Why Didn’t My Scores Go Up?

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When something really negative gets removed from your credit reports, you probably expect your credit scores to go up. Seems only fair, right? Turns out there may be several reasons why your scores may not rise after negative items are removed, as one reader’s question illustrates.

Bill recently shared his experience in the comments section of a story I wrote about a new IRS policy that will help people trying to get tax liens off their credit reports:

BAD NEWS EVERYONE: I just had 3, count them 3 BIG TAX LIENS removed (not released, removed) from my credit report. These liens totaled over $200,000.

My credit score went up ZERO points. None, nada, zip, nothing. However, on the same day I had a hard inquiry on my account because I applied for a credit card (a crime in this country I take it). For that infraction my score dropped 20 points.

IN SUMMARY:

The major tax liens expunged from my report – zero benefit.
1 hard inquiry – lost 20 points. 

Why didn’t Bill’s score go up after the liens came off his credit reports? There are several possible explanations.

It Takes Time

The first possible reason is an obvious one: a lien is still appearing on one of his credit reports. Steve Ely, the CEO of eCredable.com, says that “it takes time to flow through the system.  The company placing the lien likely followed the traditional process of updating the credit file, which means it typically takes 30 days to have the lien removed from the file. ” He adds that a “second possibility, is that the lien was removed by one or two of the credit bureaus, but not all three.  Even if one of the bureaus still has the lien on file, it will affect the credit score created from that particular credit bureau.”

Since Bill stated that the liens had been removed in his comment, though, we’ll assume that this explanation doesn’t apply here, and look for another reason.

Jumping Scorecards

In FICO’s scoring algorithm, consumers are grouped into smaller models referred to as “scorecards.” While the criteria for the individual scorecards aren’t public information, there is likely one or more scorecards that include consumers whose files list seriously derogative information such as tax liens. When that negative information is removed, the consumer’s information may then be grouped with another scorecard. That may mean Bill’s credit data is now being compared to another group of consumers.

Credit.com credit scoring expert Tom Quinn notes that while this is a possibility, it would be unusual for a consumer to move from one scorecard to another and not see a resulting change in their credit scores. Bill said his scores stayed exactly the same when the liens were removed.

So let’s keep looking.

Timing Is Everything

If the tax liens were on his reports for years before they were removed, they may have had limited impact on the credit scores before they were deleted, suggests Quinn. Generally, recent information has a greater impact on credit scores than old information.

I asked Bill what other credit references he has at this point and he told me there is nothing else on his credit reports except a paid off car loan.

Bingo! The fact that Bill hasn’t used credit recently probably is as much to blame here as anything. It’s an important lesson: Even if you’ve been through difficult credit problems, it’s important to establish current, positive credit references that can boost your credit scores over time.  I suggested that Bill start with a secured credit card so he can build the credit reference he needs. Once he has one under his belt for 6 to 12 months, he should be in a much better position to get an unsecured card.

This timing theory gets additional credibility from a comment posted by another reader in response to Bills. A reader named Dave wrote:

I just had a Fed Tax Lien removed, and I gained an average of 118 points on my FICO.  My lien was less than a year old though, so I guess perhaps the time since the lien might have been a factor…

If It’s There It Counts

There’s one more point worth noting about Bill’s credit situation. “The amount of the lien has nothing to do when calculating the credit score.  The liens could total $1 or $1 million, and it makes no difference.  The score is affected by the presence of one or more liens, not the amount of the lien,” says Ely. Quinn concurs: “Generally speaking, the dollar amount of the tax liens have little to no impact on the score.”

Has something seriously negative – bankruptcy, repossession, foreclosure, or lien, for example – recently been removed from your credit reports? What happened to your credit scores? Share your experience below.

Image: InstantVantage, via Flickr

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • http://aol jed walters

    i made my combine payment to cnh capital a few years back and they reported it not paid and it droped my score by a 100 points and when they took it off it didn’t raise my score any causing me a lot of finalcial problems. when i have to borrow 2 to $300,000.oo a year to put my crop out it put it put my world into a tailspin.i think credit scores are worth the paper there printed on

  • Bill Mitchell

    This is Bill and thanks for the article.

    My guess is that the fact the liens were so old meant that they were no longer having an effect anyway so when they came off the score did not change; however, I am sure that were I applying for a home loan, the continuing presence of the liens would have hurt me so I am glad they are gone.

    The one continuing frustration I am experiencing is that while both Experian and TransUnion have me in their “low risk” group, Equifax, who has exactly the same information on me has me listed in their “high risk” group. Apparently Equifax values having lots of high interest rate credit cards in my possession as a huge plus – much moreso than the other bureaus.

    The catch-22 is that Equifax considers me high risk because I do not have credit cards and yet it is that very same high risk rating that is preventing me from getting credit cards. Until we have a standardized system in this nation whereby all credit worthiness will be evaluated on the same scale, we will all be victimized by the subjective whims of companies like Equifax.

    How is it possible to be “low risk” with 2 bureaus and “high risk” with a third when all 3 have exactly the same information? Equifax is holding a gun to the consumer’s head forcing us to acquire high interest rate credit cards due to their artificially low scoring. Based upon this and other dealings with Equifax I consider them to be a criminal organization well overdue for a Justice Department review of their practices.

  • Bill Mitchell

    This is what Equifax says about me. Now mind you, I am considered “Low Risk” and within a few points of “Very Low Risk” on both Experian and TransUnion with EXACTLY the same information on all reports:

    “Lenders consider many factors in addition to your score when making credit decisions. However, most lenders would consider you to be a high risk. You may have difficulty qualifying for conventional loans and credit cards – and when you do qualify for credit, you will be charged high interest rates. If you’re in the market for credit, this is what you might expect:

    You may have difficulty qualifying for credit cards.
    When you do qualify for a loan, you may pay very high interest rates.
    The loan terms you receive may be very restrictive and include low credit limits.”

    So basically, Equifax and Equifax alone, based purely upon some bizarre subjective judgement on their part, are single-handedly preventing me from acquiring credit of any kind.

  • Bill Mitchell

    Meanwhile, here is what Experian says about me:

    “Your Current Risk Level = Low (700-725)
    Overall, your credit factors indicate that you have a good credit standing, and you will more than likely get good offers from lenders.”

    SAME EXACT INFORMATION on both reports. As a matter of fact, prior to having a single hard inquiry on my Experian report, my rating was “Very Low Risk”, at the same time I was “High Risk” on Equifax. One hard inquiry on Experian cost my 9 points. On Equifax it cost me 25 points.

    You tell me?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Bill,

      It would be interesting to see your VantageScores across all three bureaus to see if they are the same. Their score uses the same methodology across all three bureaus. Did the service you use to pull your scores tell you which kind of scores are being used?

      • Bill Mitchell

        Gerri,

        I am not as concerned about the individual scores as to what the bureaus say my score means. Experian and Transunion say my score means “Low Risk” and just a few points south of “Very Low Risk”. Equifax says I am rock solid “High Risk”. Equifax and Equifax alone is preventing me from securing credit.

        The information is EXACTLY the same across all reports.

        This must end.

  • Dwayne R

    Fixing credit reports and scores takes a long time. Its possible to do but takes a very long time. About 6 years ago when i got serious about fixing my credit and scores, it was around 550? – 625? and possibly lower before then and about 15 bad accounts or more listed. Some of which where the same accounts just sold to different companies or was so old the original company didnt exist any longer. It had been better if I had no score, then at least I could of worked with a clean slate. Its taken me mailing many dispute letters which is easier to track, money, and many late nights just to get my score up between 720-750. I ended up taking off all those negative accounts, and a judgement. Started paying my student loans again after defaulting for few months. Then one by one, letter after letter to the companies and reporting agencies, they came off. I Avoided applying for anything that had to check my credit report unless it was for something like renting an apartment or getting a secured credit card. If I had kept with the letters each month or two it probably would have taken less than a year to just over a year instead of much longer to get everything off. Then I got a secured credit card bought items $50 -$100 each month and paying it before the due date, kept paying my student loans, about 6 months later got a secured loan and paid it off after a year, that gave my score a boost. A year or so later of that stuff on my reports, I’m approved for a used car loan at my bank in 2009 with my score around 680 – 700 i think. Now its been 6 years since I started fixing my reports and scores and I still have a secured credit card, a car loan, 3 student loans, 2 personal loan, a secured personal loan paid off, 3 student loan accounts transferred, two credit checks and no negative accounts listed on my reports. My score should be lower but I kept paying a little more on my personal loans, car loans each month, paid regular payments on my student loans, always paid off my credit card before the due date, and not having more than 2-3 credit checks on any report. I do have that one credit score that is way lower than the rest because the credit reporting agency wants to report I was late more than 30 days or few months on one student loan but doesnt show it on the payment history, they just report that it was late. I dont know how they can do that. still tryin to figure that out.
    So its possible to get credit back. it just takes a while, a long while, dispute letters, and money, and patience.

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      What a great story Dwayne! Congrats on getting back on track and thanks for telling us how you did it.

    • Tiki

      Thank you so much for the great information

  • Laura M.

    About 4 years ago I got into a huge rut and started purchasing everything on credit cards and then just not paying, immaturity took its toll. I had a seriously defaulted student loan, late auto payments, maxed out credit cards that werent paid–at all, and medical collections. Not sure what hit me but I decided that I wasnt going to get anywhere if I didnt start paying things off. I didnt want to file for bankrupcty as I thought this hurt your credit more. I had contacted all of the creditors and asked for a settlement amount. Still not sure if this helped or hurt me. I paid all creditors, not for the full amount due, for an agreement amount. Immediately I thought this was going to help and that the derog. accounts would be removed. Little did I know. With all the derog accounts I think my score was around 530. 4 years later, havings made good payments on my auto loan, having a secured credit card, a few insallments loans and all derog accounts paid for. I still havent seen an increase in my score. Maybe 50 pts. Its really discouraging to see where I have been to where I am now and not seeing my score increase. Sometime I wonder if filing for bankrupcty was a better options. Any suggestions? Am I headed the right way? I really would love to purchase a home and my credit score is making a huge impact on this process.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Laura,

      Without seeing exactly what is going on with your credit reports, it is hard to know what is going on. But it sounds like you are on the right track. It sounds like there were quite a few negative items on your credit reports due to your financial problems, and the number of charged off/collection/delinquent accounts certainly contributes to your scores. But they won’t be there forever. Depending on when you resolved these accounts, it will take time for them to age. Eventually, all will be removed from your credit reports. And you are doing the right thing now but building new positive credit references that, over time, can outweigh the old.

      If you haven’t done so already, I would also encourage you to sign up for Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card. It will allow you to check in once a month to monitor your progress. It’s truly free, and there is no negative impact to your credit scores by using that tool.

      I hope this helps and hang in there – it sounds like you are on the right track!

  • Bill Mitchell

    It is my belief that the credit bureaus are in collusion with the banks to keep credit ratings artificially low and thus ensure the requirement for secured and high interest rate cards. It makes no sense the you can do so many positive things and get no upward movement but a single credit inquiry drops you over 25 points.

    IMHO, this is white collar crime at its worst. I believe when the government watchdogs finally look into these business practices they will find corruption that makes Bernie Madoff look like a choir boy.

    • Karen

      I really do agree with you. I have kept all my credit scores from the three reporting agencies since 2007. My credit score was 752 (prime) from one agency at a time when I had an IRS tax lien, 2 judgements, and more negative than positive accounts. Now it’s 652 and I have no tax lien, no judgements, and only 1 negative account for 52 dollars. It seems like the reasons they give on the credit analysis for the score keeps changing and is contrary to the reasons they give the year before.
      The rules keep changing to suit the needs of the banks to insure their profits.

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  • May

    This is interesting to know. Now I know I’m not the only one getting screwed by these credit bureaus. I’ve been fixing my credit for over 2 years now. Been able to remove 65% of the negative items, established new credit cards, and paying all my bills on time. My credit score actually dropped 28 points in 65 days. My husband on the other hand, filed bankruptcy (3 years now) and did nothing to fix his credit. But his score went up close to 700. We’re trying to get a mortgage to settle down but have no luck because of my credit score. I truely believe that these credit bureaus are trying to mess around with people’s lives.

    • Artemio

      You should divorce him, have him qualify and buy the house by himself, then remarry him. Problem solved. Next!

  • Kevin

    Something really needs to be done about these Thieving agencies. I too have had numerous issues with the bureaus; Equifax being the obvious Ring Leader and dirtiest of all. First, I have credit monitoring from all 3 bureaus and what they report to me differ quite a bit from what the Mortgage company received from them, while I am in the process of buying a Home; 50+ difference in points. Luckily, I still qualified. I have (2) new Credit cards (less than a year), One Card I was added on as a co-owner (not authorized user) and got 24 months of instant perfect payment history; no score change. That same card was paid down (5,400 limit, bal was 2,600/now 2,000 bal) considerably and no score change. The second card was new and mine only, the minute it hit my report, my score went up by 17 points. Now I have 5 months of perfect history and I zero out the balance every month and, no score change. We all know what’s going on but no one will step up to put an end to their reign of terror.

  • Tamara

    I had two charge off credit cards that i paid off (marks and morgan) and Kay jewelers then it went to charge off paid well then the other day it i called out of the blue and very nicely asked them, since i paid my portion if they would delete it (both accounts) off my reports and to my surprise they did agree and sent me the letter, Will this raise my scores, i also have a secured card from last november i never ever missed a payment or been late on

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Tamara –

      Good news! If they agreed to remove the charge offs from your credit reports, there is a very good chance it can help your credit scores. It’s hard to tell exactly what effect this will have since a number of factors apply, such as how old they were, the amounts involved, what other credit references you have, etc. I’d recommend you use our free Credit Report Card to check your credit scores now, before these items come off your report, and then after to see what happens. Even if the short-term effect isn’t what you expect, it’s a benefit in the long run. Congrats and thanks for sharing this story! So nice to hear good news.

  • Tamara

    Thank you Gerri! That makes me a very happy person! I actually started my first home buying process today~ I am very pleased and they mortgage company was surprised as well they said they don’t normally agree to remove those, but not only one but two? lol Needless to say they asked what i did, the first time when i paid off the charge off the did say no, but i didnt take no for an answer and asked again a few months later and they agreed! Ps. I was not hasty toward them at all and i think that was key!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Excellent. If you find out what this did for your scores, do let us know.

  • Ash

    I had a lot of medical collection accounts from an illness about 1 1/2 years ago. I disputed all of the accounts and a couple of the accounts were deleted by all 3 credit reporting agencies. I also have a secured credit card with over a year of good payment history. I’ve never missed a single payment. However, my score didn’t go up a single point when the accounts were deleted. Nothing. just the same old score I had before I disputed anything. I don’t get it. They were serious enough to drag my score into the gutter when they appeared, but now that they’re gone… nothing. It just seems so unfair that we don’t even know how the scores are calculated. It’s like we’re walking around in a giant room in the dark with a blindfold, trying to find a needle in a haystack.

    • http://www.credit.com Barry Paperno

      Hi Ash,
      While common sense may tell you that of course your score will go up when there are fewer negatives, credit scores don’t always work that way. When it comes to collections, it’s not so much how many collections are on your credit report, but more importantly, how recent the most recent collection occurred. Specifically, if the “assigned” date of the removed collections weren’t significantly more recent than those that remained, you shouldn’t expect to see much, if any, quick score improvement.

      To help your score improve, I would suggest getting one or two additional pieces of positively-reported credit, i.e. another secured card or have someone add you to their credit card account as an authorized user. Then, as the collections get older, the additional positive information will begin to carry more of the weight and help your score recover faster.

      Generally, to help raise your score after incurring something negative like a collection account, it’s better to work on adding positive information to your credit report than removing the negative (unless they’re being reported in error).

  • me

    I’am also fixing up my credit,I ordered my report but it seems soo confusing because I just had a Bankruptcy fall off my report and other things and my score is the same.I’am looking into getting an appointment with Experian Credit Educator to help me understand my scores.I still don’t get it why my score hasn’t gone up?.

  • Marc

    I have a bad credit score. Some good accounts but some collections and late payments. A total of 12,000 in good debt and 4,000 in collections. Im debating whether I should file for BK or begin to settle and pay down my maxed out cards. I hope that in a few years I will be able to buy a home someday. Anybody familiar with this process?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Marc –

      Can you elaborate a little on what you mean about $12,000 in good debt?

  • opal

    Hello all,, we are in the process of buying a home, a new built home in fact, picked out everything for it, and was pre approved, house will be done the end of september this month, our loan officer just had to re pull credit, and found that my score has dropped, to a 615 because an old collection was re sold and reported now as a new collection, got the old one deleted by calling the company, but the new one will not budge, must have a 620 to get approved, if that wasnt bad enough news, we had moved into my mothers house, while our house was being built, and did change of address with all my creditors, well for some reason got all my bills except for one, and now i have a new hit for a 30 day late payment, not sure how much this will lower my score on top of the new collection, I wrote a letter to the credit card company to see if they will give me a goodwill deed and delete the late pay from my records, that may take up to 30 days for them to even decide if they will do it, had perfect payment history with them for 3 years and all my other cards have never ever! been late, any ideas or suggestions on what I could or should do, thanks Opal

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Yikes – Doesn’t sound like a good situation. If the new collection account is legitimate, then there isn’t a whole lot you can do other than to continue to try to persuade them to delete it if you pay it. (If they agree, get it in writing first.) As for the 30-day late, hopefully the company will agree to do that for you. It doesn’t seem unreasonable. It sounds like you are doing what you can. In the meantime, you may want to talk with your loan officer about finding alternative financing if this falls through.

      • opal

        Hi Gerri, Just a little update, I kept trying with Capital One to remove the late pays, and kept getting no we cant do that, I sent faxes, phone calls after phone calls and three Emails, Finally the third Email, I happened upon a very understanding and helpful person, as I received a email from her yesterday informing me that they have contacted the credit bureaus and late pay is being removed, and they would also be sending me a letter of confirmation in the mail, So Keep trying, don’t ever give up, it may take a bit, but eventually you find someone who is understanding and not a machine! I am still working on the collection from west asset, they may be a little bit harder a nut to crack, but I refuse to give up.

  • Kat

    This blog is great. Thanks for all the posts.

    I’m in the process of going debt free. I have one or two marks for late payments from 2008 but all else is good. I’ve watched my credit score rise and fall since Feb of this year as I’ve paid off more debt each month. My score has fallen 20 points two times but never increased more than a few points even though I’m paying off thousands of dollars. After doing some research I understand that paying off debt does not automatically help your score which is simply wrong.

    Earlier this year, I was notified by the attorney general’s office that my identity had been compromised. I placed a 90 fraud alert, received my reports again, and have been waiting to see if any new/suspicious activity appears. Just recently I paid off another loan and when I received my monthly credit score (service provided from my Bank, who uses Equifax) it had dropped 20 points. I was concerned a new account had been opened by another so I called Equifax to inquire. I understand they charge for reports and scores, but since I had already paid for both with Equifax this year, I should not have to pay again especially given the identity theft threat issue.

    I called Equifax to see if they could help me understand what happened. I explained the identity theft issue and that I was calling to see if they could confirm whether my score did actually drop 20 points and whether the report showed any new accounts. Given these bureaus hold my financial report card they should be able to provide me with some info. Needless to say the rep said he could not help me and that I could pay for a score, a report, etc if I wanted any information. After a second call, I gave in and ordered & paid for another score through an auto phone system.

    I called Equifax again b/c I want the score today, not two weeks from today, and the rep said b/c I used the auto phone system I could not obtain my score over the phone. However, if I’d like to pay $14.95 I could get the score over the phone. Are you kidding me? This has little to do with the cost and all to do with the principal. I went round and round and the rep could not help me.

    This is a huge problem. These bureaus hold our score hostage, require us to pay money to get the report (w/out the score), pay separately to get the score and even provide lenders a different score than what consumers get. What!

    It’s extremely difficult to find a phone number on their website. Equifax’ obvious aim is to get you to buy more products, subscription, etc.; Transunion and Experian are no different. Why was the credit rating system established this way and how has it gotten so out of hand. By out of hand I mean, trying to locate a phone number, trying to get a report (even free) without signing up for a trial subscription, to spamming my email with advertisements after I activate a fraud alert. Furthermore, not only do I have to continue to spend money on my credit cards or lose points, but I get penalized for not having a mortgage on my credit. Given the crisis this county is in regarding debt, the system is flawed.

    Why has the FTC not stepped in and stopped this usury. This is ridiculous, unfair and abusive. I’m issuing complaints until they are heard. This country needs a standard system, not three different systems that use three different scoring methods which end up with three different scores. Unfortunately, these bureaus are all about making money.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Kat –

      Thanks for sharing your experience! It doesn’t make sense to me that your scores are going down because you are paying off debt. You definitely should take a closer look. Are you aware that you can get extra free copies of your credit reports if you suspect you are a fraud victim? New inquiries or accounts should show up on at least one of your reports.

      I also empathize your frustration with trying to get information on your credit reports and scores. Several of us at Credit.com have, at various times, worked with legislators who have been trying to give consumers greater access to their credit reports and scores. In addition, our Credit.com free Credit Report Card can be helpful in monitoring the ups and downs of your score.

      Additionally, you may want to share your thoughts with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as they are looking into credit reporting agency practices.

      • Kat

        Gerri,

        Thanks for your reply.

        The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a wonderful resource – many thanks for sharing. Specifically, I found an interesting article, “The Impact of Differences Between Consumer and Creditor purchased credit scores”, that explained the details of a credit score, along with other info, which helped me better understand the convoluted system: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/2011/07/Report_20110719_CreditScores.pdf

        Regarding the additional reports provided if a victim of identity theft – I did order these reports but it was back in April and there was nothing suspicious at that time.

        Since my post, I gave in and paid for my score + report from Equifax and rec’d it yesterday. The score has not gone down but has actually gone up. I also ordered my score + report from fico.com (referenced in the article listed above) and although the score was different from Equifax, it was better than what DCU provided (which was generated by Equifax). Again, nothing suspicious on the report, so in the end, DCU’s monthly credit score service is the culprit. I called DCU to inquire as to whether they could provide any additional information after I received the lower score and the rep explained that the score is a “generalization”. I’m not sure what that exactly means, and I shudder to think how it’s generated, but I now know that DCU’s monthly service is not accurate and is actually providing misinformation and in some cases, like mine, causing undue stress and concern. My complaint will be issued with them. This is another example of why the credit scoring system needs to be standardized. The fact that I can get a different credit score from each bureau, my bank, fico.com and the fact that this score is still not the score lenders receive is ludicrous.

        Just for the record, I’m not one of those people looking to complain for the sake of complaining; I’m one of those people sick of complaining and have decided to take action by speaking out in hopes of changing the system for the better.

        Good luck to anyone working with this system.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Kat – Thanks for the follow up. I think it’s great you’re trying to get to the bottom of this. Feel free to share what you’ve learned anytime.

  • http://theamateurconsumer.com/ Lou Rodriguez

    Jumping score cards and the fact that we, as amateur consumers, still have no clue about the criteria used for those individual scorecards, should be a crime! These are our credit scores, part of a credit resume that dictates our economic reputation. So why shouldn’t we know exactly what does, and doesn’t, hurt that economic reputation?

    I would venture to say in Bill’s case this is absolutely a “timing” issue. I bet those tax liens had been in his credit file for several years, at least! As Tom pointed out, recent information (when removed or corrected) has a greater impact on (the improvement of) credit scores than (if) old(er) information (were to be deleted or corrected).

    Which takes me to my last point and let’s see if Gerry and Tom agree with this; the more important issue here is “how” those tax liens are being reported. Let me explain; I had 5 federal tax liens totaling more than $164,000 dollars that were reporting on all 3 of my credit reports. They had been reporting for at least 3 years. After a $1.6 million dollar personal Chapter 7 bankruptcy and then paying the outstanding balance of $34,000 dollars, I was sent a release from the IRS for all 5 of those tax liens.

    I then performed a Credit Audit and Verification of my credit reports and saw the bureaus were all reporting them differently and NONE had them showing as a zero balance by indicating “paid” or “released”. Needless to say, through the dispute process, I had the information corrected. Without knowing the criteria of “jumping score cards” I have no idea what the actual effect to the improvement of my credit score was – though I have a guess; little to no improvement because they had already been there for over 3 years and the damage was already done.

    Knowing that paid tax liens generally remain on your credit file for seven years from the date released (paid) and having been in the lending and credit industries for over 20+ years, for underwriting purposes, I knew it was of the utmost importance that those tax liens show on my reports as “paid” or “released” or I would be denied any financing moving forward. At the very least, I would be made to jump through hoops to obtain said financing! Moving forward with your credit and financial life from the “paid” or “released” tax lien is the key!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Lou,

      You are right that consumers with tax liens on their reports have to be vigilant and make sure they are updated properly when they are satisfied – or try to get the tax liens removed under the IRS Fresh Start program if you qualify.

      Thanks for pointing that out!

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  • Sandy Curl

    CAN YOU PLEASE USE THIS COMMENT AND DELETE THE OTHER, I NOTICED TYPE 0’S.
    THANK YOU.
    Credit scores seem criminal. You should NOT have to pay to see the score as that is what is used to see how credit worthy you are.
    I had the misfortune of having a 60 past due on my reports as my Mother had a stroke and I had to rush to Canada and I was there for 2 months. Every bill I had was on auto pay expect for one small credit card balance.
    Due to my Mothers stroke and death, the last thing was thinking about was this credit card.
    Now we have a sixty day past due that is going to sit there for YEARS. Banks used to report for 18 months to two years. That certainly has now changed and they report revolving credit for years, it is rediculous.
    My husband was also deployed at the same time my Mother had the stroke and died he was in the middle east, there was so much going on in my life. You would think after having perfect credit you would catch a break.
    Also my husband was injured in the middle east and had to have surgery when he came home. Tricare did NOT pay one insurance claim and I just found out that this was finally paid BUT A COLLECTION account was placed on on 2 of his reports. I have disputed it for removal but I am fearful that his score will not return.
    I was shocked to see his score now into the sub prime world as it was in the 800′s prior to all of this.
    This is extremely upsetting.
    We are preferred customers with our major bank we have over 100K in our savings, you would think that would mean something. We have always had excellent credit and now it is ruined.

    Credit.com (http://s.tt/1nDY8)

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Sandy –

      I am so sorry to hear what you’ve both been through. But you sound like a fighter so I’d suggest you fight for your good credit back! Here are two articles that I think will help you:

      Persistence Pays: A Reader Fixes Her Credit Just In Time

      Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

      They should help you understand what you need to do next – get a goodwill adjustment to your credit from your creditor you paid 60 days late and try to get the medical bill pulled back from collections. Please let us know what happens!

      • Sandy Curl

        Thank you so much for the support and the helpful advice, I am going to do just what is suggested.
        God bless.

  • Moni

    Hi!
    This site and the comments have been extremely resourceful. Current I applied for job with a major investment bank and was denied employment because of three unsatisfied debts. 1 tax lien 1 tax judgement 1 medical judgment all reported in 2008 and total 60k. I have two secured cards obtained this year, current and paid on time and was approved for an auto loan in nov 2011 for 15k which paid current and on time.

    When I was disqualified for the job i checked my credit report it was then that I learned of the largest debt …the 46k tax lien for “estimated taxes”. My score at the time (may 2012) was 660. I haven’t yet spoken with a tax advisor to see if filing my taxes and showing the accurate accounting of what is owed will change this lien. But since then I applied for credit for furniture and was denied saying I had requested too much credit recently. Not sure how because I had only applied for a gas card (denied).

    I know in NY there is a statute of limitations 6 yrs on how long a creditor can come after you for a debt. Would that be applicable even if it is sold?

    And how do corporations expect you to pay off debt if they disqualify you for jobs based upon your debt.

    Super frustrated.

    Ps. I just signed up for the credit score card and my score was alarmingly lower than in May 2012

    • http://www.credit.com Gerri

      Moni –

      I don’t blame you for being terribly frustrated. It’s truly a Catch-22: you need a job to pay your bills but your credit keeps you from doing so!

      As far as the statute of limitations, that generally means that if the creditor to tries to sue you to collect, you can raise the statute of limitations as a defense. It doesn’t matter if the debt has been sold. The clock usually starts from the time you last paid the debt.

      Judgments and liens, however, typically have longer of statutes of limitations and can be renewed indefinitely. Tax liens remain on your credit reports for seven years from when they are paid or satisfied though there is a program that may allow you to have the tax lien removed once it is satisfied.

  • Wendy

    I currently have a score of 575. I recently went through student loan rehabilitation, and my loan was taken over by the original lender, and pulled out of default. I have since disputed all negetive info on my report, and most of it has been removed. I do not have credit card debt- only small medical bills that I am paying off, and my 2 student loans that are being paid as aggreed. How can I expect my credit score to change? What suggestions do you have for me to build it up to a mortgage loan worthy score?

  • Madelin

    I don’t know what my actual credit score is, but I know is not good. To be honest I’m scared to check. Now my partner and I have touched the topic of purchasing a house in few years when our kids are all in school full time (1yr and 2yrs old. I know I paid one charge account, but I have about 3 charge account and 1 credit card account that i have completely stopped making payments for more than 1yr. What should my first step be. I want to start to pay off, but my income is very limited. Help me.

  • Nikki

    Ok I have a question…. Once something negative is removed from your credit how long does it take for your score to go up? I have a best buy card that was saying i was 120 days late on payments but i never bought anything. I disputed it and they took it off all 3 credit bureaus. Also I had other things disputed and its showing 3 or 4 collections were off as well. How long will it take my score up from these things being removed? I pretty much have nothing negative on my credit now expect a couple late payments on a kohls and jcpenneys card from 2 years ago. I have alot of good credit factors. Any idea if my credit score will increase quickly?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Hi Nikki –

      Your credit scores are calculated when they are requested. If that negative information is no longer reported then the next time your credit scores are requested (by you or a lender) the new scores will be based on whatever information is available at that time. And if the negative information is no longer being reported, then it won’t affect your scores.

      Be sure to take advantage of Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card to monitor your credit scores from month to month!

  • Tre

    My debt was created during my a time where I was not knowledgable about the tue value of credit and credit card offers and applications were abumdant and easy to be qualified for- college time. Eleven years later most of the debt has dropped off my credit report. Do I still owe that debt?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Tre had a bunch of questions about old debts, student loan debts, and even a debt being collected by Telecheck. We have moved this question to the Credit.com forum. Please join the conversation here.

  • Tre

    Hi Gerri I hope Im wrong but I dont think I will receive any responses but thanks anyway for reading my post and placing it in the forum.

  • TaShana

    About 6yrs ago, I had just finished school and relocated. This adjustment affected my financial status. I maxed out two credit cards while in school. I struggled to continue to pay my school loan. My car became repossessed but I was able to find the money to regain it back.
    I tried to contact my credit card companys to decrease to outrageous interest rates. I was place on a hardship program with one company, while the other company refuse to compromise. This lead me to seek help with a credit counselor company that help to negotiate on my behalf.
    Since then, I paid off both credit card companies in 2009. However the lenders both never updated that I was paying on time after the interest adjustments. Plus they have that it was paid off in 2011 (which is incorrect).
    I paid off the first school loan. I now have another school loan that I have paid on time. A new car loan that I pay on time. I no longer have any credit cards. I do however possess a retail charge card that I continue to pay monthly the minimum amount or more when its used.
    I feel as if the three negative marks have effected my score. Should I dispute the two credit card reports and if so how? I would like to become a first time homebuyer if possible.

    Also, I have noticed that my work history is incorrect as well. How does this affect me if at all.

  • bobbie

    WHAT DO YOUR SCORE HAVE TO BE TO BE ABLE TO GET A HOME LOAN? I’M WORKING ON MY CREDIT BECAUSE I KNOW NOW IT’S NOT A GOOD THING TO HAVE BAD CREDIT, MY CREDIT IS FAIR NOW AND JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO LIKE 3 OR 4 ITEMS WERE DELETED…. WHEN I WAS YOUNG I WAS GETTING PHONES, CABLE BILLS AND THINGS LIKE THAT IN MY NAME FOR OTHER PEOPLE AND NOW IT’S AFFECTING MY LIFE BIG TIME….. I ONLY HAVE LIKE $3,800 WORTH OF CREDIT ON MY REPORT BUT IT HAVE SUCH A BIG IMPACT ON MY SCORE.

    • http://www.credit.com Gerri

      Bobbie –

      I have moved your question over to the Credit.com forums. We have some additional questions for you there.

  • Mandy

    Few years back when I was a student I had almost all clothing accounts.I got blacklisted but luckly my defaults just got cleared last month.Now it has come back to haunt me.I’m in the process of buying a car.All the banks says I’m a high risk and that my scoring points are low.I called transunion to ask why can’t my name be fully clered since the defaults are off.They told me that those negative info will be in my name for the next 2 years from the date I settled the accounts.I mean all these accounts were settled this year,does this mean I still have 2 wait for the next 2 years 2 buy my dream car?Is this fair?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Mandy –

      I assume these accounts were charged off by the lenders as bad debts. (They are listed as “charge offs” on your credit reports, correct?) If so, those remain for 7 years from the date they were charged off. Any that were turned over for collections will remain on your credit reports for 7.5 years from when you first fell behind with the creditor. i know it feels unfair that this information won’t go away because you paid it, but to lenders you represent a higher credit risk because of what happened.

      I suggest you get your free credit score from Credit.com so you can understand what’s going on with your credit and keep track of changes. I also recommend you read my article 11 Tips to Rebuild Your Credit.

  • http://www.webmail.co.za Mandy

    Does this mean that I won’t be able to buy a car for the next 7 years?I thought paying off that debt was gonna boost my score

  • Pingback: Look Up Credit Score | Credit Score Report()

  • Peggy Currid

    I am currently co-owner with my ex-husband on my home. We have been divorced since 2006. In 2008 I had to file bankruptcy because the credit cards I had paid on time, more to the principal even, raised their rates from 7.99% to 34.99% on one (advanta) in less than six months. Now it is 2013 and I am gainfully employed and have faithfully made this house payment(since 2005)and paid my bills on my own. HOW LONG will it take before I am taken as a credible risk to purchase either this house from my ex or buy another only in my name?

    • Peggy Currid

      Btw, we just put this house up for sale this past week. If it doesn’t sell, I want to know my chances of buying it from him so he breaks even on his VA loan.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Peggy –

        It sounds like more than four years have passed since your bankruptcy so that factor alone shouldn’t hold you up from buying a home. But other factors such as your credit scores or income could come into play. Why don’t you talk with a loan officer to find out what you can do as far as refinancing or buying a home?

        My response to your second comment would be the same – talk with a lender. But it does make me wonder if you are underwater on your home. If you are, that may be more of an obstacle than your credit.

        By the way, you may be interested in this interview about how to get a mortgage if your credit isn’t perfect.

  • Peggy

    No , Jerry ,we’re not under water on the home. We’re actually about 20,000 dollars to the good. I’m just trying to figure out where I fit into it all . My credit rating might affect it . I think mine is about 672 last I checked last month. Will take your advice and talk with a . Thank you!

  • Anna

    Hi all. I was wanting to know the best route to raise my credit score. As of yesterday my credit score was 473….terrible I know. A lot of credit card mistakes at 18 and couldn’t pay on. I have 3 credit cards that will be removed from my credit report from Experian as of February 2013. I also have one apartment complex where we had to break the lease but we are paying on that however, it won’t be removed off my credit report until the last payment in March of 2013 is paid. Also, I have an old Progress Energy bill back when I had roommates and they never paid it after I moved out (which I thought my name was taken off). I have tried disputing this with the reporting agencies but they say they don’t have enough proof to have it removed from my credit report. So, it has stayed but will be removed August of 2014. My score is horrible and has kept us from getting a house loan. We are paying back student loans but the loan companies refuse to put paying on it and it still says in default….can they do this? Those are the only negative factors on my report and I do plan to pay the apartment complex off and the Progress energy bill…..will this help raise my credit score? Someone has told me in the past to try and do a secured credit card through Capital One and keep the balance low as well as paying the two negative factors off will help as well. I’m not quite sure which way to go about raising my score so hopefully within the next two years I’ll qualify for a home loan! Can someone please help?

    • http://www.credit.com Barry Paperno

      Hi Anna,
      Based on what you’ve said, my two cents says…
      1. Pay off the apartment and Progress Energy bills ASAP. And since they’re a few years old by now, you may even be able to settle them for less than the full amount due.

      2. From your comment about the defaulted student loans, I can only figure they’re what’s hurting your scores the most – at least, more than the apartment and Progress Energy collections. Without having many details about your student loans, I think it’s fair to say that even if the collections were to fall off tomorrow you could expect your scores to remain low until you resolve your student loan debt and can put at least 2-3 years of positive history behind you.

      3. And speaking of positive history, “someone” gave you some very good advice in terms of obtaining a secured credit card and keeping the (reported) balance low, especially if you don’t have any other cards. A secured card or two will go a long way toward providing the positive history that will help offset the (hopefully) aging negatives.

      Feel free to provide more info….

      -Barry

      • Anna

        Hi Barry thank you for the advice. The payoff for the apartment and for Progress Energy will be March of this year. As far as a secured credit card, I had a credit card with Capitol One years and years ago. What is the best company to go with when doing a secured credit card? I still have about $2,000 left on my student loan and have been doing the rehabilitation program since they were going to garnish my wages. However, the person in charge of my student loan account told me once I start doing the rehabilitation (which my last payment for the rehabilitation program is on the 15th of this month) that it’ll be reported as paying instead of defaulted and when I called him about it 2 months ago, his reply was, “well ma’am sorry we can’t do that until it’s paid off!” Which is fine because it’s being paid on but like you said this is hurting my credit worse than the other two negatives on my credit history. Are there any other factors that can help? My husband has a car loan and I was able to sign as a co-signer but I’m not quite sure if this will raise my score, will it? (It’s never been late in over a year).

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Anna – I concur with Barry’s advice and will add that if your defaulted student loans are federal student loans you should be able to rehabilitate them. If you do, the negatives must be removed. You can learn more about student loan rehabilitation here.

      • Anna

        Thank you for the advice Gerri. I have two different student loans. One was a federal student loan which is being rehabilitated and the other was a private loan through Sallie Mae. Although the amount was incorrect and even had the paperwork from my school, Sallie Mae wouldn’t budge about the amount. They only said this is what we paid the school, now you have to pay that! Almost 8 years of dealing with this and my federal loan is finally coming towards its payoff date!

  • mark price

    Hello i have a question i no you have 3 credit bureau and i had a home foreclouser that was on my score in experian but it was removed and score went up 53 points question is do i need to cal, the other 2 bureaus to or would it be on them at all i hope some one can help me on this one

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Mark – You need to check all three. They don’ts hare information with each other and the same item may be on all three.

  • http://blogb.credit.com Glen

    Hello I had some derogatory items on all 3 of my credit reports that match EXP & TU removed these item but EFX still shows them on my report. I sent them copies of the EXP and TU report showing where the items where remove but they have done nothing. The law states all 3 bureaus must report the same thing what can I do to resolve this matter.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Glen,

      Somewhere along the lines you’ve been misinformed. The law doesn’t say that all three must report the same thing. It says that each agency must investigate and respond within a certain time frame. I think you’ll find this article helpful: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes. If you have questions after you read that, let us know.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Glen –

      The law doesn’t say that the credit reporting agencies must match each other’s information. It just says that they must investigate when a consumer disputes an item as incorrect.

      Are the items that are not being corrected wrong, or are they items you are hoping to get off your reports before the normal reporting period (usually 7 years) ends? If they are errors, and the credit reporting agency will not fix them, then I would suggest you try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If that doesn’t work, then your next step will be to talk with a consumer law attorney.

      Let us know how this turns out for you!

  • Russell Thomas

    Every Year I sign up for a 3 bureau report and then dispute everything I can. I try to remove old stuff and anything negative. Sometimes you just get lucky. Each time I do this successfully, my scores generally move up quite a bit within 30-60 days. The number one negative on your reports will be late mortgage payments and then credit cards. Removing even one 30 day late can increase your score by 20-30 points or more. You can automatically dispute anything on your credit report for free once a year so spend 30 minutes doing that and you will be surprised on what you can accomplish!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Good advice! Thanks for sharing your experience with disputing items.

    • Shane

      Actually this is a terrible idea if you are trying to get a mortgage. Lenders will not loan you money with disputed accounts because they are not resolved dispute is a short term process not a permanent fix. If its wrong don’t dispute get it removed. If it is correct then you will have to resolve it the old fashion way which is time and good behaviors. Credit can not be manipulated and any advise to do so is Highly unethical

  • Isis Rodriguez

    I’m 22 years old and I’m in the process of buying a home with habitat for humanity. They pulled my credit reports and although I didn’t know what a credit report was, I found 8 fraudulent charges and $6,000 worth of debt. I am currently disputing all these charges with the companies. Someone has had a field day ruining my credit and using my name. I am suspecting someone in my family because three credit cards are from age 16! I didn’t even kniys cow you could get CCs at 16! AT&T has investigated and ruled fraud and taken it’s charge off. My credit score was 528 before the AT&T takeoff. Anyone know how much that’ll boost me? Any advice?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Isis – The only way to know how much it will boost your scores it to check them before and after. Having positive credit references is as important as getting negative information removed. You can monitor your credit scores for free with Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card. Also make sure you get a police report or use the fraud affidavit from the FTC.

  • Mj74

    I have a question- I have been working on cleaning up my credit. I have paid everything off on my credit report. The only thing showing up is on my Transunion report (which I have disputed twice) is a paid tax lien. The other two bureaus removed it. Why does it seem to be so difficult for Transunion to remove this but the other two removed it right away? Also, the only other negative is a late payment to Kohls- wrote letter after letter and they will absolutely not budge. Amazon however, rocks and I will shop there before I ever step foot in another Kohls store.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      How old is the tax lien? Paid tax liens may still be reported for up to seven years from the date the tax lien was entered by the court. Are you past that time period? If so, then I would suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If it’s still not resolved, you will need to talk with a consumer law attorney.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hi Noodles — Fortunately, you’re situation is much easier to correct and improve your scores than someone that has low scores due to negative information. Using your cards less won’t improve your score, but rather paying down the balances that you owe is what matters here. In your case, to see an almost immediate improvement, you’d need to pay down the balances on your credit cards. This will lower your revolving utilization percentage and increase your scores (as soon as the information is updated in your credit reports). Ideally, for the most possible points in this category, you’ll want to try and keep your revolving utilization percentage as low as possible — 10% or less of the credit limits is best for your scores.

    With utilization percentages, you don’t suffer for “7 years,” but rather, your score is calculated based on the balances currently being reported in your credit reports. As those balances change, your score will reflect those changes. Closing the account wouldn’t ‘erase” the high utilization and would actually end up causing more damage to your scores. To learn more about credit scores, what counts and what doesn’t, including how to calculate revolving utilization and it’s impact on your credit scores, the following resources will explain everything you need to know:
    What Is Revolving Utilization?
    The Ultimate Guide to Credit Scores
    How to Improve Your Credit Score

  • Pinky

    Hi,

    I recently had a issue with At& t and they disconnected my account placing the fraud note on the AT&T account. Could you please let me know wether this will affect my credit score. In this context am not the culprit but the AT&T made me which is wrong. Please do reply me.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Pinky — can you share a little more detail? What exactly happened with the account? What do you mean by “fraud note”?

      To explain, if the account isn’t yours and was opened in your name without your knowledge or permission, this would be considered identity theft and there are steps you’d need to take to address the theft. Otherwise it would likely be reported in your credit reports and would definitely have a negative affect on your credit scores.

      If it’s an unpaid bill that went delinquent and the bill belongs to you, the same holds true but you wouldn’t be able to remove the item from your credit reports (if it’s a legitimate debt and it’s valid.) If you could clarify what exactly happened with the account we could better help you and explain your options.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It would depend on what they’re reporting and how they’re reporting it in your credit report. If the account wasn’t paid and they reported the account to the credit reporting agencies, it will hurt your scores.

    To understand exactly what they’re doing and how it will impact you, we’d encourage you to contact AT&T directly to clarify and address the problem. Don’t give up just because they don’t call you back, wait on hold and try to resolve the issue. And to protect yourself, it would even be worth writing a letter and documenting the problem so that there is a paper trail. Otherwise, it could backfire and hurt your credit in the long run. Keep in mind, too, that if they close the account and you don’t pay the remaining bill, it will likely go to collections and damage your credit report and scores. Even though it may be an inconvenience, it’s worth taking the time to address the problem with AT&T so that you avoid any possible negative repercussions from a credit standpoint.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Clauper — If ADT turns the account over to collections it can (and will) have a severe impact on your credit score, especially if you’re a high scorer in the 830+ range. With such high scores, a collection could quite literally drop your score by upwards of a 100-150 points. If ADT requires a written cancellation it would be in their contract so it’s worth going back and reading through the agreement.

    If you want to protect your credit (which is impeccable), it’s worth negotiating with ADT and paying the outstanding balance to keep the account out of collections. Otherwise, it could end up impacting your credit reports and scores for 7 years. That’s 7 years of higher interest rates and less favorable terms on pretty much everything you finance. Once a debt makes it to collection status, even if you pay it, it’ll remain in your credit report until it expires (7 years from the date the account made it to severe delinquency status, typically the 180 day late mark). To read more about collections and their impact on your credit reports and scores, the following resources can help:

    Will Paying a Collection Improve My Credit Score?
    Will Settling a Collection Account Hurt My Credit?

    In the end, if it’s too late to stop the account from going to collections, Credit.com also offers a ton of resources that explain your rights and how best to deal with a collector to address the debt. Here are a couple to get you started:

    9 Ways to Turn the Tables on Debt Collectors
    Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Paid (or satisfied) judgments aren’t automatically removed from your credit report when they’re paid. Like collection accounts, after you pay them, the record will remain in your credit report for 7 years from the date the judgement was filed. You can read more about this here:

    How Long Does Negative Information Stay on My Credit Report?

    Unfortunately, paying the judgement won’t improve your credit score either. Just like collection accounts, paying it will keep the problem from getting worse or staining your credit indefinitely (the statute of limitations on judgments are often 10-20 years and they can be renewed if not paid), but paying it won’t boost to your score. You can read more about this here:

    Credit Score Q&A: Satisfied Judgments and Credit Scores

    Realistically, it’s hard to say whether or not your score will increase enough before February. It really depends on where you currently stand and how much you need to improve to qualify based on your lender’s requirements. Generally, improving your credit score takes time. If you’re trying to improve your credit in order to qualify for a mortgage, Credit.com does offer several resources that may help:

    How Soon Can I Get a Mortgage After Credit Problems?
    The Ultimate Guide to Credit Scores
    How to Rebuild Your Credit

  • Adam

    Based on my past experience of looking at credit reports everyday. I can tell you that the the debt ratio play a huge impact on your credit score. You want to make sure that you are not over your limit. Further, you want to make sure that your total debt does not exceed 15% of your total available credit.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Ann –

    Do you have your free credit score from Credit.com? If so can you tell me what grades you are seeing for each of the five score factors? Did you review the suggested action plan that comes with it? (It’s hard for me to tell what the problem is just based on the information you’ve provided…)

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