A foreclosure can appear on a credit report for up to seven years and during that time individuals may find it difficult to get loans for mortgages, automobiles, apartment rentals, and can sometimes even negatively impact possible employment. There are few steps however which can be taken to mitigate or completely remove a foreclosure from a credit report.
First take advantage of the fact that a law was passed in the United States that allows individuals to request one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You can obtain your free annual credit report by either by going online to AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. A free annual credit report should always be used to monitor for fraudulent activity such as identity theft or to monitor the report to make sure that information being reported is accurate.
Each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, have procedures in place to contest inaccurate or misreported information that appears on your credit report. Fill out the appropriate paperwork and include any additional documentation stating that you are disputing the reporting of a foreclosure and wish to have it removed. Be sure to document all phone calls, print all emails and send the paperwork contesting the foreclosure via certified mail and requesting return receipt. You'll need the receipt to verify when the paperwork was received and processed.
By law, credit reporting agencies must begin an investigation immediately and have 30 days to complete the investigation which will either remove the disputed item from the credit report or explain why it is being left in place. Due to the millions of individuals who have credit reports, often this process cannot be completed within the 30 day window. Immediately after this window contact the credit reporting agency again via certified mail again stating that 30 days has passed and to remove the disputed foreclosure from the credit report.
This may not be the end of it however as a credit reporting agency still may fail to do their legal duty and remove the foreclosure from your credit report at which point it may become necessary to contact an attorney. Oftentimes, a letter from a lawyer can expedite the process and have a foreclosure removed faster than any correspondence from a consumer.
It is also possible that even though you may successfully remove a foreclosure from a credit report it is always possible that the lender may re-report the foreclosure at some point in the future. Be vigilant and frequently monitor your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies to verify the status of the foreclosure in question.
At the end of the day, the only way to guarantee a foreclosure will no longer appear on your credit report is to wait the full seven year window and then verify that it has been removed once and for all. Even at that point the foreclosure may still appear and you may still have to contact each credit reporting agency to state once and for all that you're outside of the seven year window and the foreclosure needs to be removed from your credit report.