How to Remove a Judgment from Your Credit Report

November 19, 2019

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If you've had a judgment taken against you for a debt, there are a few ways you can remove judgments from your credit report. You can appeal for a vacated judgment, dispute the inaccuracies, or simply pay it.

If you've had a judgment taken against you for a debt that you owe, you're probably familiar with the impact it has on your finances and your credit score. Judgments usually show up under the public records section of your credit report.

There was a time when judgments could show up on your credit report at any time, but recent legislation has made it more difficult for them to be reported. The new rules required public records data to contain a consumer's name, address, social security number, and/or date of birth.

In response, the credit reporting agencies Experian, Equifax and TransUnion also came to an agreement known as the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) to ensure that accurate reporting is followed and consumers are aware of their rights.

However, if judgments meet certain criteria set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), they can still be put on your credit report and damage your credit.

Our guide explains what a judgment is and how you can remove it from your credit report.

What is a Judgment?

A judgment is a court order that results from a lawsuit. Only civil judgments are reported to the credit bureaus. These types of judgments are court rulings that pertain to the repayment of a debt. When you owe a creditor money and don't pay it, the creditor can try to recover it by going to court and suing you for it.

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When a creditor sues for the money you owe, the court decides on the merits of the case. If a judge rules against you, the decision becomes a judgment against you. In the case that the judge decides you owe money, they can:

  • Order wage garnishment
  • Order you to come up with a payment plan with the lender
  • Allow the lender to attach liens to your property in order to recover their money

No matter what happens with a judgment, you're forced to pay back what you owe because of the court order.

3 Ways to Remove Judgments From Your Credit Report

There are a few ways you can remove judgments from your credit report.

Appeal for a Vacated judgment

A vacated judgment is one that you appealed, and the court dismissed. This is a great way to handle a judgment, and there are several ways to get your judgment vacated:

  • File a motion appealing the original ruling. You have a good chance of succeeding, especially if the person suing you didn't follow the correct legal procedure.
  • File an appeal of procedural grounds. This may include receiving a judgment without a hearing or not receiving a summons to court.

If you successfully appeal your judgment, then the case is dismissed. The person suing you still has the option to re-file, but since it's costly and time-consuming, they may not pursue it again.

Dispute Inaccuracies

Credit report judgments can be removed by following the steps below.

  1. Request the court to validate the judgment
  2. Verify information provided from the court
  3. Dispute any inaccuracies found
  4. Consider professional help

If the court is missing certain information when they report your judgment to the credit bureaus, then the judgment can be removed, but you would have to dispute it.

In addition to inaccuracies, you may be entitled to remove judgments from your report for other reasons:

  • Identity theft
  • Clerical error
  • Debt was paid
  • Period has expired
  • Debt belongs to someone else
  • Lender is no longer in business

Once again, you would have to dispute this with the credit bureau to get judgment removed.

Pay it and Wait for it to Come Off of Your Credit Report

If you weren’t successful in your appeal and your judgment is accurate, your last option is to pay it off and wait for it to come off of your credit report.

A judgment is sometimes removed if you pay it. Some state laws require judgments to be removed from your credit report when they are paid.

Some states also allow debt collectors and creditors to re-file the judgment if it is unpaid, also known as an unsatisfied judgment. This is why it’s worth it to pay your judgment as soon as you can if you cannot get it removed.

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How Much Will a Judgment Affect My Credit Score?

When judgments show up on your credit reports, they can do severe damage to your score. A judgment in your credit history means that a lender had such a difficult time recovering their money from you that they had to go to court.

Judgments tell potential lenders that you can't be trusted to pay them back. Any lender still willing to do business with you will do so knowing that you are a risky customer. Because of this, they will likely impose stringent terms and higher interest rates to any line of credit they offer you.

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How Long Does a Judgment Stay on My Credit Report?

In most cases, judgments can stay on your credit reports for up to seven years. This means that the judgment will continue to have a negative effect on your credit score for a period of seven years. In some states, judgments can stay on as long as ten years, or indefinitely if they remain unpaid.

4 Types of Judgments

Just like there are different types of debts, there are different types of judgments. Here are the different types of judgments:

Unsatisfied Judgments

When a judgment is taken out against you, you are expected to honor the decision. Until the judgment is satisfied, it remains unsatisfied.

Satisfied Judgments

A satisfied judgment is the opposite of an unsatisfied judgment. It means that your debt is either paid or settled. While you may not have completely paid off your debt in full, you can satisfy a judgment by making a new payment plan and paying what you and the lender agreed on.

Vacated Judgments

Like we mentioned, a vacated judgment is one that the court dismissed after an appeal.

Renewed Judgments

Renewed judgments are sometimes referred to as re-filed judgments. A judgment can be renewed in many states if it hasn't been satisfied. In many states, the case can be renewed as many times as the creditor wants to pursue it.

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How Can I Satisfy My Judgment?

Sometimes, it might be difficult to know who you have to pay to satisfy the judgment. You should have paperwork from the court explaining who to pay and when you need to pay. If you don't have the court's information, then you may need to contact the creditor who took the judgment out against you.

What Should I Do If a Creditor Tries to Sue Me?

When a creditor tries to sue you, you'll receive a court summons. Many people ignore the summons and don't show up to court. If you're not there to defend yourself, the judge usually issues a default judgment against you.

The judge may even order that your wages are garnished or place a lien on your property. If you show up, you can try to defend yourself. If you're not sure what to do, then you can seek out an attorney for legal advice on how to handle the summons.

How Can I Delete a Judgment from My Credit Report?

If a judgment is on your credit report, and you think it has errors, you can dispute it with the credit bureaus. If you have supporting documentation as to why the judgment should be removed from your credit reports, this may make disputing easier.

If you need help challenging a judgment on your credit reports, you can also find help with a credit repair company like Lexington Law Firm. For over a decade, we've been helping clients remove negative items that are inaccurate, unverifiable, and unfair. Contact us today for a free personalized credit consultation.

Call For A Free Credit Report Consultation

Lexington Law has helped clients work towards fair and accurate credit scores by leveraging their rights. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of clients remove unfair, inaccurate and unverified accounts from their credit reports.

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