A foreclosure listing can significantly damage your credit rating and hinder your ability to get approved for low interest rates on new loans and lines of credit. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, foreclosures can appear on your credit file for a maximum of seven years. If the credit bureaus do not remove the foreclosure notation from your credit report automatically after this time frame, you can notify them of the obsolete entry and request its removal. In some cases, if your foreclosure notation contains inaccurate information, you may be able to have it removed before the seven-year reporting period expires.
Obtain copies of your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act allows you the right to one free credit report from each credit bureau per year.
Locate the foreclosure listing on each credit report in the “Public Records” or “Public Information” section. Check the date the foreclosure occurred to ensure that the listing is no more than seven years old.
Dispute the foreclosure notation with the credit bureaus if it occurred more than seven years ago. Notify each credit bureau in your dispute that section 605 of the FCRA prohibits information related to foreclosures from remaining in consumer credit reports for more than seven years. You may dispute credit information online or by telephone, but the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you submit your dispute in writing in order to keep accurate records of the process.
Examine the foreclosure entry for errors if it is not obsolete. If any information within the notation is incorrect, such as the amount you owed your lender or the date the foreclosure was filed, you may have grounds to have the entry removed early.
Contact the lender that initially compiled the report if you notice a reporting error in the foreclosure notation. Inform the lender that the notation is inaccurate and needs to be either corrected or removed. In some cases, lenders would rather remove an entry than attempt to correct it.
Make copies of any documentation you have that proves the foreclosure entry is incorrect. Submit this documentation, along with a copy of your credit report and a letter explaining that you want the listing either corrected or removed, to each credit bureau currently reporting inaccurate information. The FCRA allows credit bureaus 30 days to investigate reporting errors and attempt to verify or correct them. If the credit bureaus cannot verify or correct your foreclosure notation, it must be removed.
File a lawsuit against the lender reporting the foreclosure if it verifies the inaccurate information with the credit bureaus. The FCRA gives every consumer the right to sue any company or individual that knowingly provides inaccurate information to the credit bureaus. Many lenders, to avoid paying a representative to defend them in court, prefer to simply remove the foreclosure listing from the plaintiff’s credit file.
You can request your free credit reports online through AnnualCreditReport.com. This website is the only internet source for free credit reports recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.
If you still owe money to your lender following a foreclosure, you may attempt to negotiate with your lender for the removal of the foreclosure from your credit report in exchange for full payment of what you owe.
The credit bureaus are only required to remove incorrect information if it cannot be corrected. Thus, you must request a correction instead of demanding immediate removal of a foreclosure notation.
If you repeatedly dispute your foreclosure with the credit bureaus, the credit bureaus have the right to consider additional disputes "frivolous" and refuse to investigate your claims.
Ciele Edwards holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been a consumer advocate and credit specialist for more than 10 years. She currently works in the real-estate industry as a consumer credit and debt specialist. Edwards has experience working with collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, loans and credit law.