Ignore the television commercials! Once a year you can go to "annualcreditreport.com" and get the free consolidated report allowed (i.e. required) under Federal Law!
Check the Dates!
One of the easiest ways to get rid of negative information is to find old stuff:
Overdue child support (that was paid) lawsuits, judgments; paid tax liens; accounts sent to collections; late payments; skipped rent or any negative information (except criminal convictions) should be off the report after 7 years.
The system is replete with errors, so check carefully!
Incorrect identifying information like the wrong Social Security Number; Past Addresses; birthdates, etc., can be on your report. I once had my bosses information on my report! (I was in the Marine Corps and had just moved into the house she had just vacated)!
Bankruptcies, bad checking accounts, financial histories, closed accounts that are not yours should be removed! They won't be unless you ask!
Requesting Removal of Erroneous Information
Harder than you might think, but, complete the form the credit reporting bureau will provide from their own web site when you find an error. (Remember there are three of them so you might have to contact all three or just the regional one where the information is on file).
If or WHEN the credit reporting agency denies your request to remove an item ask them to reinvestigate the same way you asked the to investigate.
Save the Requests and the History
The law that controls these issues is the Fair Credit Reporting Act and never a more confusing or opaque law has been written. It is very easy to waive your rights under this law and another law almost makes it impossible for lawyers to hlp you in the complaint process. if the complaint process does not work come back to Avvo and post your questions to try and find the right lawyer!
That's right, ironically filing bankruptcy will increase the credit scores of about 9 out of 10 people who file. This is a little disingenuous because the bankruptcy itself is injurious to your ability to get good interest rates on homes and cars, but it does not hurt as much as you might imagine and it clears up many items on a credit report. However, if you have a mortgage that you will retain and relatively new cars the bankruptcy will not damage your refinance opportunities as much as you might imagine!