Most judgments are the result of unpaid credit card debt, and most of them are from a collector or attorney rather than the creditor directly.
There are several points that may help in the removal of a judgment. Here they are:
1. The Statute of Limitations. If the SOL for the judgment has expired (and the judgment can’t be renewed), this could provide an opportunity for easier negotiations and/or removal (since the judgment holder can’t take further legal action.) The length a judgment remains enforceable varies by state and can be tricky, so it is best to check with an attorney in your state to avoid trouble.
2. Disputing issues related to the judgment listing itself, as it appears on the credit report. Sometimes information is missing or wrong, and these are things that you have a right to dispute. If the disputes come back verified you can follow up using the well known “method of verification” (MOV) technique.
3. Negotiation/Settlement – You can attempt to settle with the judgment holder, offering to pay a certain amount in exchange for (at best) removal or (at worst) “paid in full” status. A satisfied judgment will remain on your credit report until you either dispute it or it falls off on its own. It’s possible that a judgment that has been paid will not be updated as such on your credit report. Correcting this could take going through the court that rendered the judgment in the first place. At that point you could proceed with disputing based on problems with the credit report listing as described in number two above.
4. Vacating a judgment – If there was a problem with the process in which the judgment was obtained (such as you were not properly served, or the legal process was not otherwise followed completely), then it may be grounds for getting the judgment dismissed in court.
The best way to deal with judgments in the long run is of course to avoid them altogether. Don’t ignore debt collectors, especially when the debt is large (and they are more likely to sue you.) Don’t ignore your creditors either. If you take steps such as negotiation or debt validation earlier in the game, you may be able to avoid the judgment and the resulting credit damage and headache.