How long it takes to repair your credit score depends on what happened to it. If your credit score is low as a result of errors or identity theft, the process could take a couple of months. If you've had financial difficulties leading to late or missed payments, it could take much longer.
How long does it take to correct an error on your credit report?
If your credit score is low, the first thing you should do is check for errors. This might be your own account information being reported incorrectly, the credit bureau confusing you with someone with a similar name or even identity theft.
If you see an error and file a dispute, the credit bureau has 30 days to investigate it. If they need more time, they can extend that deadline by 15 days by notifying you. Once the investigation is complete, they must notify you of the results within five days. If the credit bureau confirms that negative information on your report was inaccurate, it will immediately correct it.
In some cases, the credit bureau may reject your dispute. A common scenario is when an identity thief had so much of your personal information that the credit company believed it was you. In these situations, you will need to repeat the dispute process with additional supporting documentation or pursue further legal action.
How long do credit repair services take?
If you choose to use a credit repair service, they generally do two things. One is disputing errors as outlined above. The other is trying to get accurate negative information removed.
Some creditors will remove accurate negative information as either a goodwill gesture for a long-term customer with a temporary financial problem or in exchange for paying down the debt. One common tactic is a pay-for-delete where you agree to pay all or a portion of the debt in exchange for the creditor removing the delinquent account remark from your credit report.
Creditors have no obligation to remove accurate information from your credit report or to negotiate at all. Policies and procedures vary by creditor but will usually include back-and-forth letters to get everything in writing.
On average, credit repair takes about three to six months. Your score should gradually improve throughout the process each time a creditor agrees to make a change in your favor.
How long does it take to rebuild your credit?
If you have negative items on your credit report that you can't get removed, you will need to repair your credit report by rebuilding positive credit history over time. This includes the basics such as paying on time and not opening too many new accounts.
Most negative items remain on your credit report for seven years. Bankruptcies may remain on your credit report for up to ten years, although many creditors stop reporting Chapter 13 bankruptcies after seven years.
The good news is that credit scoring gives greater weight to more recent activity. So the score hit for negative items will gradually lessen over time rather than you having to wait the full seven to ten years.
Talk to your lawyer
You have important rights under state and federal law to be treated fairly by creditors and to have your credit information reported accurately. If a creditor violates your rights, you may not only be entitled to have them correct your credit report but to also sue them for damages and your attorney's fees. To learn more, ask a lawyer today.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.