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Ask Dave

The Wrong Report

What role does the credit bureau reporting service have in cleaning things off your credit report?

QUESTION: Kelly had a $500 judgment put against her ex-husband in 2005 for a medical debt when they were married. They are now divorced and that judgment is on her credit report, even though it was paid. Only one of the three credit bureaus has removed it from her report. How was she included on this judgment, and is there anything she can do to clear it?

ANSWER: It’s not the credit bureau report’s problem. They investigated and found that it there is a judgment against you filed at the courthouse. That is their only job; to find that it really exists. They are not there to arbitrate or determine if something was done correctly. They are there to report what the facts are in the marketplace, and the facts are there’s a judgment against you. The one that took it off shouldn’t have done that.

As long as that is filed at the courthouse as public record, it’s going to be on your credit bureau report. You have to go deeper and dig this thing out at the root. As far as how they did that to start with, I don’t know. If you didn’t sign for anything, I guess they just sued you guys and neither of you did anything about getting yourselves off at the time, and since you didn’t defend the fact that you shouldn’t have been on there at the time, they won a lawsuit against you.

You can either hire an attorney to sue them and try to get it taken off since you shouldn’t have been on there in the first place. That might cost you 10 times as much as just settling with these guys. Call them up and tell them you are divorced from this guy and they can chase him all they want, but you want your name taken off of this, and you want it taken off your credit bureau report.

This shouldn’t keep you from getting a mortgage or anything. The older it gets, the less effect is has on your credit score. When you hit seven years from the date of last activity, it will disappear anyway. Chalk it up as a learning lesson and don’t worry about it.

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