How to Remove Paid-Off Child Support From Your Credit Report
Unpaid child support payments are included on your credit reports and remain there for up to seven years, having a negative impact on your credit score. If you’ve paid off your entire child support obligation and the account still appears as delinquent on your credit file, you can file a dispute with the credit bureaus to potentially have it updated.
How does child support affect your credit?
Depending on where you live, child support may appear on your credit report regardless of whether you pay on time. But in many states, unpaid child support is more likely to be reported to the three major credit bureaus than child support that’s paid on time.
Once you miss a child support payment, that late payment can remain on your credit report for seven years. Missed payments negatively affect your credit score and can leave you with bad credit consequences.
What happens when you pay off a child support account
Paying off a late child support payment won’t remove the derogatory mark from your credit report. However, it can help improve your credit score, since the account should be marked on your reports as paid in full. This may take up to two months to be reflected on your report.
Your credit score will factor recent activity more than older activity. So if you’ve successfully paid off your debt, it’ll have a lower impact on your score over time. When applying for new loans or credit accounts, lenders would see that you’ve paid those old debts on your credit report.
Can you remove paid-off child support from your credit report?
You cannot remove accurate information from your credit report. However, if you’ve paid off child support and it’s still showing up on your credit report as delinquent, you can dispute that error with the credit bureaus. If your dispute is successful, it would still show up as a paid debt instead of delinquent debt. Child support collections agencies collect and track your payments, but they sometimes fail to report your payments properly.
In that situation, here’s what you should do to get the error fixed on your credit report:
GET PROOF THAT THE ACCOUNT WAS PAID OFF
Before you contact the three major bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — get in touch with the child support collections agency you’ve been paying to ensure that the account is actually paid off. Next, gather proof of those payments. If you haven’t been keeping receipts of your payments, you can request a report from your child support enforcement agency showing what you’ve paid.
FILE A DISPUTE WITH THE CREDIT BUREAUS
Once you have documents proving the account is paid off, you can dispute the delinquent account with the credit reporting agencies. You’ll need to notify all three major credit bureaus of the issue and contest it with them, which you can do through their websites, over the phone or by mail.
You should communicate with them in writing whenever possible so that you can keep records of those communications. When providing documentation to the credit bureaus, always send copies rather than originals.
In most cases, these credit reporting agencies will have 30 days to investigate your claim, after which you’ll receive a written statement of the results. If the dispute resulted in changes to your credit report, you’ll receive a free and updated copy.
Credit bureaus also must give you the contact information for the lender or collections agency that provided them with information regarding your account during the investigation. If you feel that your dispute wasn’t resolved correctly, you can contact this information provider — likely your child support collections unit — to go over your payment records.
CONFIRM THE CHANGE
Once the issue is resolved and the account is paid in full, any late payments will still show up on your credit report for seven years from the date of the original delinquency, but the child support account will now show up as paid in full. If you never actually missed any child support payments, then that account should be removed from your credit report altogether once your dispute is properly resolved.
Improving your credit score
Two of the best things you can do to repair your credit are disputing inaccurate information and paying off delinquent accounts. Even if your credit history shows that you’ve missed payments on child support in the past, turning that around and showing that you’ve since paid off that account will help your credit by showing future lenders that you’re financially responsible.
Continue to request a free credit report each year to track your progress.