Loans > How to Remove a Judgement From Your Credit Report

How to Remove a Judgement From Your Credit Report

Because of new laws, a judgement is now one of the easier remarks to get removed from your credit report.

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Reviewed by
Updated January 10, 2022

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When you borrow money, you have a legal obligation to pay that debt back. When you are struggling to make good on your debts, the creditor may even decide to take you to court. How seemingly petty, right? 🙄

Realistically speaking, you likely won’t have to face the long arm of the law until your account is severely delinquent. But, when you do reach severe delinquency, a civil judgement can be entered against you.

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. You aren’t alone. In fact, in today’s day and age debt collection lawsuits are on the rise, making up approximately 1 in 4 lawsuits.

Civil judgements sting, as they hurt your public record and can even affect your credit score. However, the thing is there’s a get out of credit jail free card when it comes to judgements. And we’ve got the information you need to potentially play that card.

What you’ll learn
  • Civil Judgments Explained
  • How Judgements Affect Credit
  • Request Validation with the Courts
  • Dispute With the Credit Bureaus
  • Appeal the Original Ruling
  • Pay the Debt
  • Waiting it Out
  • Avoid a Judgement Altogether

What is a Civil Judgment? ⚖️

Also known as a default judgement, a civil judgement occurs if a creditor sues you for nonpayment and wins their claim against you. The suing creditor can be anyone ranging from a credit card company, utility company, bank or other type of lender.

Additionally, if you ignore or fail to answer the lawsuit in a timely manner you can also have the judgement entered against you. Not responding is a default loss in the court of law. Most of the time all the creditor wants is to hear from you—well, and for you to give them your money, of course. 

Judgments allow debt collectors a stronger ability to gouge you for debt. It opens the door for opportunities such as wage or bank garnishments or even the placement of a lien on your home or property.

The reality is, that while a filed judgement is a big deal, they are actually among one of the easier to remove remarks from your credit. This is because the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) has consistently made it more difficult for credit reporting companies to post-civil judgements on your credit report. 

Types of Judgements

Similar to the multiple types of debt, there are different types of judgments. There are four different types of judgements: Unsatisfied, satisfied, vacated, and renewed.

  • Unsatisfied Judgement: When the judgement is entered against you, it is initially unsatisfied. Until you satisfy the judgement by paying it, the judgement remains unsatisfied.
  • Satisfied Judgement: A satisfied judgement is one that has been settled or paid. Satisfaction of a judgment occurs by entering a new arrangement with the original creditor or by paying what you owe in full.
  • Vacated Judgement: A judgement that becomes dismissed after an appeal.
  • Renewed Judgement: Also known as re-filed judgement. A renewed judgement is an unsatisfied judgement extended beyond the original term.

How Judgements Affect Your Credit 📉

A judgement is usually entered on a credit report as a public record/derogatory mark. Depending on the state, a judgement can be on your record or background report for 5 to 20 years. However, a judgement may only show up on your credit reports for up to seven years. 

The real kicker is the fact that there have been recent changes to how judgements appear on your credit report. The NCAP, a settlement established in 2015, is responsible for these changes.

The NCAP’s responsibility is to structure and create credit requirements to ensure consumer accuracy. A public record can be very damaging to a consumer, therefore, it’s super important for the creditor to make sure the information is correct.

Changes that occurred in 2017-2018 essentially prevent judgements from appearing on credit reports. Period. 🙅‍♂️

How? It’s quite contradictory actually. The NCAP requires the listing of specific personal and identifying information on all records to ensure the utmost accuracy. This information includes things like name, social security number, date of birth, and the consumer’s address.

However, privacy laws also prohibit public records including any of the above information. This means that civil judgements can’t appear on credit reports because for them to appear, they’d have to include the personal information that violates privacy laws.

In relation to judgements, the removal of the remark likely won’t affect your credit too much. This is because the real damage you will see on your credit report is from the impact of late payments, collections, or charged-off accounts.

💡 Looking to raise your credit score? Take a look at the most popular credit repair companies.

Request Validation With the Courts 📝

Even though it’s very hard for judgments to be placed on your credit report, it’s not entirely unlikely. This is especially true with older judgements prior to the 2017/2018 amendments. The first way you can get an older judgement removed is to take it up with courts. You’ll first start by sending a validation letter to your creditors or collectors.

Young millennial male sitting at a desk in a house and reviewing his credit report.
Sending a validation letter is a simple step that many people overlook.

Just like with any other debt, the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you the right to validate any debt. In the case of a judgement, you can write a letter to the ruling court and request that the court validate the judgement. The purpose of the validation request is for the court to prove the accuracy and ownership of the judgement.

In your request, ask the courts to verify specific details like address, social security number, date of birth, and the filing date. If the court provides inaccurate info or completely neglects to respond you can then dispute the debt as inaccurate under the FCRA.

Remember: As of April 2018, the NCAP prevents personal information from appearing on a credit report from the get-go. So, if the information is invalid and if it’s a newer judgement (after April 2018) this should solve the case for a dismissal.

Disputing a Judgment on Your Credit Report ❌

You have the right to dispute anything that appears on your credit report with the credit bureaus. This, of course, includes judgements. If you have the documentation and all your ducks in a row on why the judgement needs to come off your credit report, the process will be much easier.

Just like submitting a validation with the courts, you’ll do the same with the credit bureaus. Obtain a copy of your credit report for free and study your newly-obtained credit report closely. You’ll want to verify every little piece of information, even if you personally feel it’s a minor detail.

If to your findings the judgement entry is inaccurate or incomplete, you can then submit a dispute to the bureaus. As we discussed, the law requires credit bureaus to remove judgements with personal or incorrect information anyways.

💡 Helpful tip: Going through credit reports and filing requests can be a hassle. If going through documents is not your cup of tea, you can get a local credit repair agency to take care of business.

File a Motion Appealing the Original Ruling 👨‍⚖️

Remember how there are four different types of judgements? The type that comes into play in the world of appeals is a vacated judgement. When you file to appeal the original ruling of the civil judgement, this would make the judgement vacated.

You can appeal the ruling if the original creditor who sued you didn’t follow proper protocol. Also, if the debt is older than your state’s statute of limitations, you are subject to having the debt overturned. If you find yourself in either one of these situations, you may just be in luck to get the judgement removed from your credit report.

However, as with anything to do with the courts and the law, you may want to consider getting legal counsel. Obviously, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons for your unique situation—if it’s going to cost you more to hire an attorney than to pay the debt, then it may not be in your best interest. Also, If the debt is old and predates the statute of limitations, you won’t need a lawyer to appeal as this is an easy removal. 

Pay the Debt 💸

The simplest way to get the judgement removed is to simply pay off the debt. Well, assuming the debt is actually yours and accurately reported, of course. We’d suggest paying the debt especially if the court case was properly conducted as you won’t be as likely to successfully appeal the judgement.

If you can pay the debt, you’ll get the court off your back and will perhaps sleep a bit more soundly at night. After all, all they wanted from you from the get go was your money anyway!

It’s important to know that paying the debt may not result in the credit bureaus removing the judgement from your credit report. But, you can always try to negotiate directly with the creditor by offering immediate and full payment in exchange for the removal of the judgement.

To begin the process of removal, you can either send a pay-for-delete letter or initiate a verbal request via phone. You may not have immediate luck at first, and it may take you several tries of speaking with several different people.

Stay persistent though, and don’t give up. You may eventually get the right person on the line. If you luck out and get someone to agree to your proposal, great! If possible obtain this agreement in writing and do not remit payment until you have the proof of the agreement. It’s smooth sailing from there! ⛵

Wait it Out ⏱️

When in doubt, wait it out. The seven-year clock is ticking, and so is the statute of limitations on the debt. If you can’t pay it, or you can’t manage to appeal the judgement or request validation, this may be your only choice.

You face the possibility of time healing the judgement wound. We’ll be honest though, waiting it out isn’t optimal as the judgement can find ways to come back and haunt you. This is especially true if the original creditor renews the judgement.

How to Avoid a Judgement 💭

While a judgement remark itself may not be a credit destroyer these days, it can still do damage to other aspects of your life. A judgement can rear its ugly head on your background reports all the way up to 20 years—which is a long time for a financial mistake to hang over your head.

A judgement also puts you at risk for having your wages garnished or the seizure of other personal assets, and that is a whole other mess to deal with. So to avoid a judgement, it’s best to avoid paying your debts late, to begin with. 

We know that isn’t always easy for some people. After all, in the age of the coronavirus, 63% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck—If you’re not in a position to pay up, you might want to consider stretching out your payments and lowering your APR by consolidating your debt.

Moreover, if you find yourself on the struggle bus, just remember that communication is paramount. The key to dealing with collectors and creditors is not by ignoring their warnings, but by responding adequately. And especially do not ignore legal proceedings or requests from the courts. 

Most of the time all they want is to hear from you or for you to cough up some sort of payment. To some creditors, something is better than nothing if you are showing an effort to try and make it right. 👍

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on tokenist.com. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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