Ask Creditnet: Should I Dispute Open Accounts That are Really Closed?
Dear Creditnet: I pulled all 3 of my credit reports for the first time in 5 years because I plan to apply for a mortgage within the next few months. On two of my credit reports, I was surprised to find several credit card accounts and an installment loan that are still reporting as open and active. The other credit report shows them as closed. I know for a fact that these accounts are all closed. They have been for years. Could this be hurting my FICO scores in any way? And if so, should I contact the credit bureaus to let them know that these accounts have already been paid off and closed? - Randy D. from CO
Answer: If the old credit card accounts and installment loan are in good standing and reporting as open, leave them that way for as long as possible. They're most likely contributing positively to at least 2 of your 3 FICO scores, and that's better than nothing. I can certainly understand your concern regarding the discrepancy you've found; however, there's really no reason to spend your time and energy reaching out to the credit bureaus to let them know that this might be a mistake. If they eventually update your reports on their own, that's fine. If they don't, you have no obligation to contact them. In fact, if you do contact them and they end up changing the status of the accounts to closed, that change alone could very well be detrimental to your FICO scores. The FICO credit-scoring model really likes both revolving and installment accounts that are open and in good standing, so you want to keep these accounts on your credit reports as long as possible. As you prepare to apply for your mortgage, remember that you'll want to keep your credit profile as static as possible during this time too. You don't want to deal with any surprise fluctuations in your FICO scores that might throw a wrench in your ability to close on your home. So don't apply for new credit, don't spend an abnormal amount on your credit cards, and definitely don't begin unnecessary disputes with the credit bureaus. It's simply not worth the risk to your credit scores. Photo by Dave via Flickr