As you know, last month I ran my first free credit report for the year. When I got my credit report, I noticed that I had three accounts on it which I don’t remember using in the last 10 years. Two of them were for JC Penny! I hardly remember eve shopping at JC Penny. I think it may have been when I visited Vallco mall in Sunnyvale 10 years ago.
Now that I think about it, I may have opened an account with JC Penny when I was travelling in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the late 90′s. I vaguely remember getting a JCP card. This was before I knew that when you get a card like that they run a credit check and the account gets added to your credit file.
Anyway, there were two from JCP. There was also one from Citicards. I remember my first credit card in the US. I needed one to start building my credit history. And the easiest way to get on without having any credit history, was to buy one – literally. I had to pay the bank $500 to get a “secured credit card”. Mind you, this is not a debit card linked to a checking account at the bank. This was literally a Citibank MasterCard on which the spending limit was $500 and for which I had to pay the collateral up front.
Any way, I had closed the Citibank account at least 5 years ago. Perhaps even earlier. But all the same these three accounts were showing up in my credit file, all green for the last 81 months, with the average monthly balance at $0. I have very few open accounts. In the past I had assumed that 7 years after an account was closed, it would drop off the credit file. Apparently, that is no longer true. These unnecessary accounts were cluttering my neat credit file and providing no useful benefit. I decided to try and clean it up.
I was not sure they would clean it up if I asked. But I decided to as any way. Since my first credit report was from Equifax this year, I decided to start with cleaning that file. Their website is well set up to file a dispute. Just go to https://www.ai.equifax.com/CreditInvestigation/ and click on “Get Started”. I go to that link by going to http://www.equifax.com and clicking on “Online Dispute.”
It asked me for some of my personal information. Then it asked me a few questions so that I could identify myself. Then it asked me which account I wanted to dispute. I picked the first JCP from the choices. The justification/dispute I said was something like, “I don’t use this account any more. It has been closed for several years. I had expected it would have dropped off by now. It is cluttering my credit file. Please remove this account.”
It then asked me if I had any further disputes. So I selected the next JCP account and entered the same justification. Then I selected the Citicards account and entered the same justification. After I entered all three, I submitted the form. I got an email saying they received the dispute. From then on, every three days, I would get the exact same email with the following text.
Dear John Varghese,
We are continuing to process your recent dispute; as a reminder, it may take up to 45 days to complete your dispute from the date you submitted to Equifax. We will continue to keep you posted on the status of your dispute by sending periodic email notifications.
Track Anytime! You may view the results of your dispute online.* To view the status of your dispute, you will need your dispute Confirmation Number: 3423423434
Thank you for giving Equifax the opportunity to serve you!
Today I finally received an email from Equifax with a slightly different subject: Equifax Dispute Completed Notification. I followed the link in the email and reached the report. Essentially the report said the same thing for all three accounts”
>>> We have researched the credit account. Account # – 234348923234487* The results are: This item has been deleted from the credit file. If you have additional questions about this item please contact: Gecrb/JC Penneys, PO Box 965005, Orlando FL 32896-5005 Phone: (800) 542-0800
(Note: I have changed all account number for your convenience.)
Wow! Just like that! Even the account that I thought they would not remove, because it wasn’t 7 years since it I closed it, was deleted.
So that’s how I did it.