Skip main navigation

How to remove something bad from your credit history?

To fix any mistakes on your credit report, you need to contact the lender or credit reference agency to ask them to update it. If that mistake has impacted your score, once removed, your credit score should improve again.

6 min read
removing bad credit history

If the information is incorrect

It’s important to regularly check your credit file and report any mistakes to your lender or credit reference agency. Keep an eye out for any incorrect or missing information or data you don’t recognise.

You can check your credit report for free with our partner, CredAbility. It doesn’t matter how many times you check it. It only counts as a soft search which won’t affect your credit score or leave a footprint on your credit file.

Make sure that any incorrect information (e.g. your name and address) is updated by your lender. Mismatched data can impact your ability to get credit in the future. Lenders typically use your credit report to make sure the information in your credit application is accurate.

Any missing information can also affect your credit score. For example, if you have a well-managed account but it isn’t showing on your credit report, you won’t benefit from it. Bear in mind that any new accounts can take a few weeks to show up on your credit file. And not all lenders report to all three credit reference agencies.

If you find entries you don’t recognise you will need to report them as they could affect your credit score. For example, if you find an account that doesn’t belong to you with a history of missed payments. This could also be a sign that you are a victim of fraud.

1. Get your paperwork together

If you spot a mistake on your credit report, double-check your records to make sure it is a genuine error.

Your first port of call is the lender who has reported the information. Before you contact them, gather together all your paperwork as evidence. Your lender will usually need this to be able to update your records.

For example, if you’ve got married and your surname has changed they’ll need a copy of your marriage certificate. If you want to challenge a missed payment, they might ask you for a copy of your bank statement to prove you made the payment.

2. Contact the lender

Try and contact your lender as soon as possible to challenge the mistake you’ve spotted, as it can take several weeks to update your credit report.

They might ask you to send in your supporting paperwork. You could also ask if they will accept screenshots via email to speed up the process.

There’s no guarantee they will accept your dispute. It also depends on what you are challenging and if there’s sufficient proof that a genuine mistake has been made. For example, it would be more difficult to get a default removed than one missed payment. A default is more serious and is only applied after three to six missed payments.

3. Contact the credit reference agency

You can also ask the credit reference agency to get in touch with your lender about any mistakes you find. Bear in mind, that they can only update your credit report with the lender’s permission.

Again, you need to explain why the entry is incorrect and there’s no guarantee your dispute will be accepted. Credit reference agencies should add a ‘Notice of Correction to your credit report in the meantime to let other lenders know you’ve raised an error.

To get old financial ties removed from your credit report, you will need to apply to the credit reference agency for a notice of disassociation. Anyone you had joint finances with in the past could be damaging your credit score if they have a poor credit history themselves. Just make sure you close any joint accounts beforehand, or the agency won’t be able to process your request.

Remember that each credit reference agency holds different information about you. They work separately, so you will need to contact each one individually.

The information is correct

If the information is correct, it’s unlikely you’d be able to get it removed. If you feel it was unfair, contact the lender involved to discuss.

Some negative markers carry less weight than others. Your lender is more likely to remove entries that don’t have too much impact on your credit score (like one missed or late payment). Generally, they will only remove markers if there’s been a genuine mistake.

Your lender is not obliged to agree to anything under these circumstances. It’s purely down to their own discretion. But they may take certain factors into account. These include if you’ve got a good payment history with them, you’re a loyal customer or there’s a good reason behind your request.

How long does a default stay on my report?

A default will stay on your credit report for six years from the date of issue, even if it is paid in full. It is normally applied after three to six missed contractual payments. This can affect your credit score and ability to get credit in the future.

Can a default be removed from my credit history?

A default will automatically drop off your credit report after six years from the date of issue - whether it has been paid in full or not. You cannot get a default removed before this, unless it has been applied in error, as mentioned above. But there are ways you can reduce the impact it has on your credit score in the meantime.

For instance, you can try and clear the debt as soon as possible. Once it has been paid in full the status will change from ‘unsatisfied’ to ‘satisfied’ which is an improvement in the eyes of lenders. You could also ask the credit reference agencies to note your file to explain why you got into debt in the first place (e.g. redundancy or sickness). 

Even if you don’t do the above two things, the impact that a default has on your ability to get credit will lessen with time. Especially if you maintain all of your repayments and rebuild your credit history.

Can I get credit with a poor financial history?

There are certain lenders, like ourselves at Ocean Finance, who specialise in lending to people with a history of poor credit. So you don’t necessarily have to wait six years for defaults to drop off your credit report before you can get finance.

You can use an eligibility checker like QuickCheck to see if your credit card application will be accepted before you apply. This won’t affect your credit score as it only performs a soft search.