Your credit report is a crucial record of your credit worthiness, and contains your credit score which is a quantitative measure by which you will be assessed by many financial institutions. As such, why wouldn’t you want to have a clean report? After all, credit agencies look at your credit report and score to determine whether you qualify for a loan or a credit line.
Your credit report contains details about all your credit accounts, including payment history. When you have closed accounts, they will show up on your credit history between 7 and 10 years.
Closed accounts can continue to affect your credit score. Should you have them removed? How to get rid of closed accounts on a credit report?
What Does a Closed Account Mean on a Credit Report?
Before we dive into the step-by-step process of removing closed accounts on your credit report, let’s take a quick review of what a closed account means.
You have a closed account when you paid in full your loan or a balance on a credit line. For example, when you have a credit that you no longer want to use, you can request it to be closed. It means that the account will no longer incur charges.
Meanwhile, an account can also be closed due to delinquency. When that happens, it will have negative effects on your credit score. We’ll talk more about that in the sections below.
How to Get Old Accounts Removed from Credit Report
So, how can you remove a closed account from your credit report? Here are the steps you need to take:
1. File a Dispute
If your credit report shows closed accounts that aren’t supposed to be closed or open accounts that are supposed to be closed, you need to dispute such inaccuracies. Contact one of the three national credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—online or by registered mail to initiate the dispute.
When you file the dispute, you must provide the following details:
- Your full name
- The account number with discrepancies
- A description of the discrepancies you wish to correct
- Proof and other documents that will support your claim
It may take 30 days for the credit bureau to look into your claim with the respective creditor or lender and inform you of the results. If the inaccuracies you reported are verified to be incorrect, they will be corrected based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Then the other credit bureaus will be informed of the changes too.
2. Send a Goodwill Letter to Your Creditor or Lender
Write a goodwill letter addressed to your creditor or lender to request the deletion of your closed account, especially when you’ve already settled your balance. In the letter, you can explain what circumstances you went through that led to delinquencies in your payments and appeal for the creditor’s understanding. You can also state that you’re planning to apply for a mortgage or loan, and you hope that removing the closed account on your credit report can help you qualify.
The creditor or lender isn’t required to give in to your goodwill letter, but who knows, you might just get lucky? Aside from the time you’re going to spend writing your letter, you won’t lose anything by trying.
3. Pay for Delete
If your closed account has an outstanding balance, you may use a “pay for delete” request to have it removed from your credit history. In this strategy, you and the creditor or the collections agency agree that you’ll pay your outstanding balance in exchange for the deletion.
Again, they don’t have to comply with your request, but it seems logical that they will as you are paying them money they would otherwise not receive.
You can send your pay-for-delete request via registered mail or contact them by phone first to negotiate.
4. Wait for the Closed Account to Drop Off Your Credit Report
If nothing else works, you only have to wait it out because closed accounts won’t stay on your credit report forever.
How long does a closed account stay on your credit report? Closed accounts with negative records, such as late payments, will remain on your credit report for 7 years. It will negatively affect your credit score and these are the ones that will benefit you to get deleted.
Meanwhile, accounts that were in good standing when you closed them will be on your report for 10 years. This is favorable to you because positive information on your credit report will have positive effects on your credit rating. And logically, you will want to keep these on your credit record.
So it is important that you know the difference and act accordingly.
Why Do Closed Accounts Stay on Your Credit Report?
Closed accounts remain on your credit report between 7 and 10 years because the report needs to contain your credit history, be it positive or negative. When your account is closed, the creditor or lender only needs to update the information and not delete your record.
Positive closed accounts remain on your credit report to give you credit for being a responsible borrower. The 10-year count begins on the date your account is closed.
Unless you’re able to request deletion of negative closed accounts, using the steps above, they will remain on your credit report for 7 years since the original date of delinquency.
Do Closed Accounts with Balances Affect Credit Score?
Yes, they do. They increase your credit utilization ratio, which is the revolving credit you used versus the revolving credit available to you. When your account is closed but it still has a balance, it increases the credit you used but decreases the available credit. Remember, the credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your credit score.
Should You Pay Off Closed Accounts on Your Credit Report?
Paying off your debt is always better than not paying at all, especially if you have the means. Though paying closed accounts on a credit report may not result in immediate improvements on your credit score, it will be able to do so over time.
What Else Can You Do to Improve Your Credit Report?
While waiting for the deletion of your closed accounts through sending requests or waiting out the pertinent period for the records to drop off your credit report, you can do other things to improve your credit report. Start by building good credit habits. Here are some tips:
1. Pay Your Bills On Time
You can improve your credit score significantly over time by improving your payment history. It’s the most important factor in determining your credit rating, accounting for 35% of the score. Pay your bills on time every month and don’t miss any payments. One missed payment can already have a drastic impact on your credit score that you won’t be able to recover quickly.
When you pay your bills on time, creditors and lenders see it as a sign that you’ll pay your debt, so they’re more likely to approve your loan application or give you a new line of credit.
2. Keep Your Credit Utilization Low
If you have revolving credit, make sure that you keep your credit utilization below 30%. Try to pay off your debt in full every month.
3.Don’t Close Any More Accounts
Even when you no longer want to use a credit card, you can keep its balance zero without having to close it. You may request for annual fee waivers from your credit card provider and keep your account open. That’s because the age of your credit account is also a huge factor in determining your credit score. The longer you’ve held an account, the better, especially when it’s in good standing.
4. Don’t Apply for a New Credit Line Unless Necessary
Applying for a new loan or credit account can trigger hard inquiries, which will reflect on your credit report. Hard inquiries can indicate uncertainties and increased risks to lenders or creditors.
It doesn’t mean you can’t apply for a new loan or credit card. Just try to minimize your applications and only apply when you need it. Hard inquiries can hurt credit score, but you’ll be able to recover from it in a few months, provided that you use your new lines responsibly.
5. Monitor Your Credit Report
Every year, you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report from the credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Make sure that you check the details in your credit history so that you can dispute any inaccuracies you find as soon as possible. Knowing what’s in your credit report can also prompt you to take action to improve your credit habits.
6. Seek Help from Professional Credit Counselors
If you find it difficult to manage your finances, it’s never too late to correct your habits. You can get free professional credit counseling, such as from NFCC, Credit.org, and Advantage CCCS. When you know more about financial management, you can make better decisions when it comes to spending your money and dealing with your debt. You’ll learn how to save and prevent yourself from getting deep into debt.
Everyone who cares about their credit score so they can get the best deals on loans and credit lines needs a clean credit report. However, you may have closed accounts in your credit history that affect your credit score. When the impact is negative, such as with closed accounts that have balances, you’d want them off your credit report.
How to get rid of closed accounts on a credit report? Follow the steps we outlined above. However, there’s no guarantee that you can get them deleted. Sometimes, the only way is to wait for them to drop off your credit report. While doing so, you can turn to other ways to improve your credit rating, such as paying your bills on time and decreasing your credit utilization ratio.