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How to remove a judgment from your credit report?

3 July 2009 No Comment


Removing an unpaid judgment from your credit report is very hard, however the possibility exists.   The only way to remove a judgment from a credit report is to first get it vacated or dismissed.  To do this, you need to file a motion in court.  Filing a motion to vacate or dismiss the item requres that you have a good reason, or at least believe that you have one.

There are basically two scenarios under which you can get a judgment dismissed and consequently remove it from your credit report. If whoever filed and won such judgment against you didn’t exactly follow the law, this can work in your favor.  It is also possible the judge didn’t know about some improper procedure.  These things happen.

Many judges, especially on the level that deals with collection agencies, small claims or injury lawsuits are, to put it mildly, are not the brightest stars of the legal profession.  They are mostly former lawyers who couldn’t cut it in private practice, and often are not overly familiar with consumer law.

Opening is strictly based on technicalities, even with the properly filed lawsuit.  If the judgment was awarded because you either didn’t show for court date, or didn’t respond to the court summons with the proper paperwork in the allotted period of time, you may also be in luck.  That is because if you believed you had a good reason for not responding to the summons or appearing at the hearing, there still may be a ground to dismiss the judgment – as long as the court agrees that you did have good reasons for not responding or appearing.

There are several steps in this process, and if removing a judgment from your credit report is very important to you, it may be best to invest several hundred dollars in a qualified attorney.  Your attorney or you must prepare a Motion and Declaration to Vacate Judgment and an Order to Show Cause, and do it accordingly with rules of your state’s civil procedures.  Otherwise, your motion will be the one thrown out on a technicality. Then you file proper paperwork and notify the original plaintiff by serving the notice of summons. Next, one of two things can happen.

First your lawsuit is settled out of court, which happens almost always when the original plaintiff violated the laws in winning judgment against you, like collection agencies commonly do with respect to The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA.  In this case, make sure you demand they themselves file paperwork to dismiss the lawsuit and notify any collection agencies they involved as well as notify the credit bureaus of the mistake. Before accepting any written settlement offer, plaintiff must send you copies of any paperwork received from the courts about the judgment vacation or dismissal.

Second, you do go to court. There are two possible ways you can win
– the original plaintiff does not show up for the hearing to dismiss and you win by default, receiving your dismissal automatically, especially if the original plaintiff never responded in writing to the summons
– the original plaintiff does show up to the hearing, but can not disprove your reason for requesting the dismissal, because it can prove neither you were properly served nor that the debt was legal to start with.

You win.  How to remove that judgment from your credit report?  Get a court document showing that the case was dismissed and send copies of this document to any collection agency that has contacted you, and to the credit agencies, so they will remove everything that is even remotely related to the judgment.

See related posts,
Paid collection on credit report affects credit scores
Removing paid collection from credit reports
Remove bankruptcy from credit report – is that possible?
IRS lien release – how to remove IRS lien from credit report
Withdrawal of federal tax lien – how to remove tax lien from credit reports

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