How long does negative information stay on your credit report?
The length of time that negative information may remain on your credit report is governed by federal law known as Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Most negative information should be removed after seven years. Some, like a bankruptcy, stay for up to 10 years. Regarding the specifics of derogatory credit information, the law and deadlines are more nuanced. Here are eight types of negative information and how you might be able to avoid the damage each one might cause.
Key points to remember
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs how long negative information can stay on your credit report.
- Most negative information stays on your credit report for 7 years; some items remain for 10 years.
- You can limit the damage caused by derogatory information even if it is still on your credit report.
- Removing a negative item from your credit report does not mean that you no longer owe debt.
Difficult investigation: two years
A difficult investigation, also known as “hard pull”, is not necessarily negative information. However, a request that includes your full credit report deducts a few points from your credit score. Too many difficult requests can add up. Fortunately, they only stay on your credit report for two years after the date of the investigation.
Limit the damage: Group difficult inquiries, such as mortgage and auto loan applications, over a two-week period so that they count as one survey.
Delinquency: seven years
Late payments (typically more than 30 days late), missed payments, and collections or accounts that have been turned over to Recovering agency may remain on your credit report for seven years from the date of the delinquency.
Limit the damage: Make sure you make your payments on time or catch up. If you are generally up to date, call the creditor and request that the default not be reported to a credit agency.
Charge-Off: seven years
When the creditor cancels your debt following a non-payment, we talk about cushion. Charges remain on your credit report for seven years plus 180 days from the date the write-off was reported to a credit bureau.
Limit the damage: Try to pay off all or a negotiated amount of the debt. The ding to your credit will not be removed, but you probably will not be prosecuted.
Student loan default: seven years
Failure to repay your student loan remains on your credit report for seven years plus 180 days from the date of the first missed payment for private student loans. Federal student loans are cut seven years after the default date or the date the loan is transferred to the Ministry of Education.
Limit the damage: If you have federal student loans, take advantage of Department of Education options, including the loan rehabilitation, consolidation or reimbursement. With private loans, contact the lender and request a modification.
Foreclosure: seven years
Foreclosure is a form of default that involves your lender becoming the owner of your home for failure to make timely payments. This stays on your credit report for seven years from the date of the first missed payment.
Limit the damage: Make sure you pay your other bills on time and follow the steps to rebuild your credit.
Tax liens and civil judgments should not appear on your credit report.
Lawsuit or judgment: seven years
Paid and unpaid civilian judgments used to stay on your credit report for seven years from the date of filing in most cases. By April 2018, however, the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, had removed all civil judgments from credit reports.
Limit the damage: Check your credit report to make sure the public records section does not contain information about civil judgments, and if it does appear, request that it be removed. Also make sure to protect your assets.
Bankruptcy: seven to ten years
The length of time that bankruptcy stays on your credit report depends on the type of bankruptcy, but it typically ranges from 7 to 10 years. Bankruptcy, known as a “credit score killer,” can reduce your credit rating by 130 to 150 points, depending on FICO. One finished Chapter 13 bankruptcy that is discharged or rejected usually comes out of your report seven years after filing. In some rare cases, Chapter 13 may remain for 10 years. Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcies disappear 10 years after the filing date, and Chapter 12 bankruptcies disappear seven years after the filing date.
Limit the damage: Don’t wait to start rebuilding your credit. Obtain a secure credit card, pay non-bankrupt accounts as agreed, and apply for new credit only after you can manage the debt.
Tax privilege: once indefinitely, now zero years
Paid tax privileges, like civil judgments, was part of your credit report for seven years. Unpaid liens can remain on your credit report indefinitely in almost all cases. In April 2018, the three major credit bureaus removed all tax privileges from credit reports due to misrepresentation.
Limit the damage: Check your credit report to make sure it does not contain information about tax liens. If so, dispute with the credit bureau to have it withdrawn.
The Bottom Line
Once the credit reporting deadline has been reached, the negative information should automatically be removed from your credit report. If not, you can dispute it with the credit agency concerned, who has 30 days to respond to your request. If the item in question contains errors, you can dispute it and request that it be deleted before the deadline expires. Also, if you need to get a negative rating removed from your credit report and you can’t wait for it to expire, one of the best credit repair companies might be able to help you.
Keep in mind that expiring a credit reporting deadline does not mean you no longer owe debt. Creditors and collectors can continue to demand payment if the debt remains unpaid. However, if the debt is outside the limitation period for the state where the debt arose, the creditor or the collection agency may not be able to use the courts to force you to pay.