How to Remove a Judgement from Your Credit Report

Written by Kim PinnelliUpdated: 28th Sep 2021
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In this Article: How to remove a judgement from your credit report and save your credit score.

A judgment on your credit report makes it nearly impossible to get new credit and for close to 7 years.

So, if you are ready to protect your credit score, improve your personal finances, and avoid falling down a rabbit hole, then pay attention.

Fortunately, it’s easy to remove a judgment from your credit report. Find out how below.

What is a Judgment?

If you default on your debt and don’t try to make good on it with the creditor (or collection agency), they may take it to court. If the court rules in their favor, they bring a judgment against you. Like a collection, it’s a negative hit to your credit.

Today, judgments don’t show on your credit report. While they are public record, the National Consumer Assistance Plan made it illegal to report judgments on credit reports in most situations.

4 Different Types of Judgments

The type of judgment filed makes a big difference in how you handle it and how it affects your credit.

Satisfied Judgments

If you pay the debt in full or as agreed, you’ve satisfied the judgment. Once you satisfy the agreement or were forced to satisfy it with a wage garnishment, the creditor issues a ‘satisfaction of judgment’ which they file in court. If the creditor doesn’t file it, you can file it.

A satisfied judgment remains on your credit report, but it reports as paid rather than unpaid, which works in your favor.

Unsatisfied Judgments

If you haven’t ‘made good’ on the debt yet, it’s unsatisfied. This causes the most damage to your credit report. Future creditors look at this unfavorably because they know you have a history of defaulting and not getting current on your debts.

Judgments remain unsatisfied until you pay them as agreed or appeal the decision if you don’t agree with how the court ruled.

Vacated Judgments

Judgments you appealed and won are vacated or void. If you’re lucky enough to have the decision reversed and, in your favor, the credit bureaus must remove the judgment from your credit report once you supply proof of the court order.

Renewed Judgments

All states have a statute of limitations, but they vary wildly from 6 to 20 years. Some states also allow creditors to renew or refile a judgment.

In other words, once the statute of limitations eliminates the debt, the creditor may refile the judgment, keeping it alive for many years until you finally pay it (or they give up).

How Do You Find Out if You Have Any Judgments Against You?

In the past, you’d know if you had a judgment against you by looking at your credit report.

Today that’s not a foolproof way. Instead, you need to look for signs of a judgment, including:

  • Your wages are garnished
  • Your bank account is frozen
  • You get a phone call from a collection lawyer

Ideally, you’d know about the judgment before these occurrences, though. You should receive advance notice of the lawsuit so you can defend yourself in court.

Because our system isn’t foolproof, though, there is a chance the notice slipped through the cracks, so you may have to do some due diligence to find out.

How to Remove a Judgement (4 Easy Ways)

If you find a judgment on your credit report, here are 4 easy ways to get it removed:

1. Ask for Court Validation

Any inaccurate information on your credit report must be removed according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If a court can’t validate your judgment, it’s inaccurate information, and the credit bureau must remove it.

To obtain court validation, send a request in writing to the court that entered the judgment. Include your identifying information and the court case number.

Send your letter via certified mail so you can track it. If the court does not or can’t validate the case, write to the credit bureaus and ask them to delete the information.

2. File an Appeal

If you file an appeal, the court has to decide if they’ll reverse the decision. If they do, the court may vacate the judgment, which allows you to have it removed from your credit report.

Appeals aren’t always successful, but sometimes creditors don’t show up, which allows the court to reverse the original decision without issue.

3. Dispute it with all Three Credit Bureaus

You have the right to dispute any inaccurate information on your credit report. This includes even the smallest detail on a judgment.

Look closely at dates, name spellings, dollar amounts, and payment dates. If anything isn’t right, appeal the information to the reporting credit bureau (check all 3) and ask them to remove it from your credit report.

Credit bureaus have 30 days to validate your concern. If they can’t prove otherwise or don’t try to, they must remove the judgment from your credit report.

4. Pay it and Wait for it to Fall Off

If nothing else works, pay the judgment and wait it out. Depending on where you live, it may fall off as soon as you satisfy it.

If not, you’ll have to wait out the statute of limitations, which on average is 7 years.

Can You Remove a Judgment from Your Credit Report?

Whether or not you can remove a judgment from your credit report depends on the circumstances. If you can’t prove inaccurate information and the court validates and won’t vacate the judgment, your best bet to removing a judgment is satisfying it and hoping the creditor drops it from your credit report.

But if you want to increase your chances and truly save your credit score then consider hiring a credit repair company. They bring years of experience and know the credit industry like it is the back of their hand.

Credit Saint is one of the best credit repair companies. To date, they have removed thousands of negative items, collection accounts, and judgements from consumer credit reports.

>> More:Credit Saint Review

How Do You Get Out of a Judgment?

The only way to ‘get out’ of a judgment is to prove it’s not accurate or have the court vacate it. Otherwise, you’re on the hook for the amount, and until you pay it, the judgment exists.

What Happens if You Cannot Pay a Judgment?

If you can’t pay the full amount upfront, you can ask for a payment plan. Most creditors agree because they know they’ll get the money.

The only way ‘out’ of paying a judgment is if you are ‘judgment proof’ which means you have no income or assets for the court to seize and liquidate.

How Bad Does a Judgment Affect Your Credit Score?

Since judgments may no longer show up on credit reports, it may or may not hurt your credit score. If a judgment makes its way to your credit report, it could cost you as much as 150 points. Consumers with higher credit scores usually get hit harder from judgments.

How Long Does a Judgment Stay on My Credit Report?

Since most judgments don’t make it on credit reports any longer, you may not have to worry about it (you should still pay the judgment). But if one makes it on your credit report, it will usually stick around for 7 years.

What Property Can Be Taken to Settle a Judgment?

The law varies by state, so check with your state if you’re at risk for a judgment. Most states don’t allow creditors to seize your home, furniture, or clothing.

Creditors may request the ability to seize tangible assets, such as jewelry or antiques to liquidate and satisfy the judgment.

Beyond that, creditors may garnish your wages, freeze your bank account, or put a lien on your property.

How Can I Satisfy a Judgment?

You can satisfy a judgment in two ways:

  • Pay it in full either in one lump sum or on a payment arrangement
  • File bankruptcy

File bankruptcy as a last resort, though. Most creditors will work with you, including settling for a lower amount to avoid you filing for bankruptcy.

Does a Satisfied Judgment Hurt Credit?

A satisfied judgment is still a judgment, so it will have some effect on your credit report. It’s better than an unsatisfied judgment, though because it shows creditors that you made good on the debt.

Over time, usually after 2 years, the judgment does not affect your credit score much, but it remains on your credit report.

Can You Settle a Judgment?

If the creditor agrees, you may settle a judgment for less than its full amount. Most creditors agree as long as the amount is reasonable, and you pay it in one lump sum. It gives you more leverage because you have the money to pay them right away if they agree.

Do Credit Reports Include Judgments?

Today, most credit reports don’t include judgments. If you have an old judgment before 2017, it may still show up, but you can dispute the information with the credit bureaus.

Bottom Line: How to Remove a Judgement from Your Credit Report

Most judgments won’t make it to your credit report, but you should still handle them right away. If you have a judgment on your credit report, it will knock your score down quickly and a lot and make it hard to get future credit. The best thing to do is to either repair your credit yourself or hire a reputable credit company. 

It’s a lot easier today to remove judgments since the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) doesn’t allow them, so take the necessary steps to remove them from your credit report today.

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Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli

Kim Pinnelli is a Senior Writer, Editor, & Product Analyst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been a professional financial writer for over 15 years, and has appeared in a myriad of industry leading financial media outlets. Leveraging her personal experience, Kim is committed to helping people take charge of their personal finances and make simple financial decisions.