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Credit Reports And Judgments
Reporting and fixing erroneous judgment statuses to the credit agencies is not the responsibility of the judgment creditors, the courts, or the credit agencies. Nobody will investigate or fix anything unless you first make things happen. Begin by getting a current copy of your credit report from the top three credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Try www.AnnualCreditReport.com to request a free credit report from each credit bureau. Beware of some other websites that promise "free" credit reports, yet have hidden fees.
This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer. Once you get your credit report, read it carefully to make sure that all the information about your judgments and debts, and any payments made on them, is correct. If something is not accurate and you do not owe the amount listed, you can try to correct the listing by filing a credit dispute report. If you do this, file your debt dispute form with each of the top three credit bureaus.
If a judgment against you was won by default, and you were really not served notice of the lawsuit, and you wish to claim the judgment was/is a surprise to you; you can try to get the judgment vacated for lack of proper service. This requires a new court hearing, and the creditor must be served notice of the scheduled hearing. If you can persuade the judge you were not served, or served properly, you may be able to get the judgment vacated. Note that even if you succeed, nothing stops the original judgment creditor from suing you again, however many creditors will not. If you get a court order vacating or setting aside your judgment, send that proof to the credit reporting agencies.
What if your judgment was turned over to a judgment enforcer or a collection agency or an attorney? In that case, you will have to deal with whoever now owns the judgment against you, or whoever now represents the original judgment creditor.
If the judgment was not won by default, or you cannot vacate it, you can attempt to settle with your creditor, for a fraction of what is owed; and that is worth trying. Make sure you have all agreements made with your creditor in writing; so that you can provide the top three credit bureaus with a copy of the credit account settlement and/or the judgment satisfaction. When the judgment is satisfied, and you supply proof; the credit bureaus will report the judgment as being settled and/or paid.
In general, judgments and other less than perfect items, stay on credit reports for 7 years. Derogatory entries can stay on your credit report for 7 years, however it is not mandatory that they will. To get judgments and other debts removed or marked as being paid in full, you must first get them paid or vacated, and then dispute them in writing and provide proof; because some people lie.
If you persuade a credit bureau to start an investigation, they may contact your creditor. If your creditor does not respond, the bureau may probably remove the entry. If you can prove it, a satisfied judgment might be taken off your credit report, or at least it will show up as being paid in full.
If you pay off a judgment, and your creditor did not file the satisfaction, first remind them politely that by law, they must file it with the court. If the creditor will not satisfy the judgment after getting paid, you might have to sue them in court, showing proof that you paid them or the court, and if possible, that the creditor accepted your payment as settling the judgment debt in full. After you prove to the credit bureaus that you satisfied a judgment, it may still show up on your credit report, however it will show as being paid.
Be aware that most property liens eventually seem to show up on credit reports. The best way for a judgment creditor to get their judgment to show up on a credit report is to record a property lien at their county recorder. Note, a creditor can record a property lien even if their debtor currently owns no property.
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