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How long does negative credit remain on credit reports

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Having negative information on your credit reports can feel like a life sentence.

The good news is that there is a time limit to most negative credit entries.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, Sections 605 and 623 govern reporting timeframes for consumer credit reports. Assuming the information contained in your credit report is accurate most negative information can remain on your credit reports for seven to ten years.

Even more good news is that as negative credit items get older, they have less impact on your credit score.

How long negative credit information remains on credit reports

Positive Credit Accounts

  • Open, active or inactive positive credit accounts can remain on your credit reports indefinitely.

Negative Credit Accounts

  • Negative credit information typically remains on your credit report for 7 years from the first date you missed a payment on an account and never brought the account current.

Charged-Off Accounts

  • Negative accounts that are charged off can remain on credit reports from 180 days after the start of the delinquency which led to the charge-off plus 7 years. Essentially this means 7.5 years in total.

Collection Accounts

  • Collection accounts remain on your credit report 7 years from the date of the first delinquency on the account. When a creditor charges-off an account, within in 90 days the creditor must report to the credit reporting agency the “month and year of the commencement of the delinquency that immediately preceded” the charge-off.” The 7 year reporting period begins 180 days after the date of first delinquency (DOFD).
  • This can be confusing for consumers as some deceptive collection agencies engage in Re-Aging collection accounts which leads to an extension of the 7.5 year period negative accounts remain on your credit report. Take note since the DOFD determines when to begin to obsolescence period, it cannot be changed or updated under any circumstances.
  • The clock on the date the account FIRST went delinquent cannot change no matter how many times a charged-off debt is purchased, transferred or sold to a collection agency. This essentially means a debt collector cannot add another 7.5 years to an account they begin collecting on. How long a debt collector can report an account depends soley on the original creditor's date of first delinquency.

Bankruptcy

  • Chapters 7, 11 and 12 bankruptcies can remain for 10 years from the date filed.
  • Completed Chapter 13 bankruptcy can remain 7 years from the date of discharge and up to years 10 years.

Judgments

  • Judgments remain on credit reports 7 years from the date filed or until the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer.
  • Exceptions to this are New York – Satisfied judgments remain 5 years from the date filed.

Tax Liens

  • Tax Liens remain on credit reports for 7 years from the date paid and if the tax lien goes unpaid, it can remain indefinitely. With exception of California where tax liens, paid or unpaid remain for 7 years from the date filed. IRS tax liens can be deleted if paid in full or you enter into a payment plan.

Foreclosures

  • Foreclosures can be reported on credit reports for 7 years.

Student Loans

  • Defaulted student loans can be reported for 7 years.

Credit Inquiries

  • Inquiries can remain on your report for 2 years; however, the impact of inquiries on your credit score only lasts for 1 year.

Credit reporting time limit

As you can see, most negative information has a 7-year credit reporting time limit. Keep in mind the credit reporting time limit applies to negative accounts only. There's no law requiring credit bureaus to remove old accounts that don't contain negative information. The credit reporting time limit for accounts in good standing can remain 10 years or more, depending on the credit bureau's reporting guidelines.

Typically, you don’t have to do anything to remove outdated negative information from your credit report after the credit reporting time limit has run out. The credit bureaus generally delete the negative items from your credit report once they're scheduled to be deleted. If outdated information remains on your credit report, you can use the dispute process to have them removed.

How to determine when negative items will be removed

The credit reporting time period for negative credit items like charge-offs and collection accounts starts from the date of first delinquency that caused charge-off or the collection account.

For example, you were first late in July 2013 and the account was charged off in December 2013, the account should fall off after December 2020.

The credit reporting time limit for collection accounts is based on your delinquency with the original creditor, not when the collection agency begins collecting on the debt. People sometimes get confused when they see a more current date on credit reports when a collection agency acquires the account. That newer date has nothing to do with the credit reporting time limit.

If an account is due to be removed from your credit reports in December 2020 and a collection agency acquires that account in November 2020; in December 2020 that account will be deleted; unless the collection agency illegally re-aged the account.

In that case you can have the account removed by reporting re-aging to the credit bureau, making a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, FTC or your state's Attorney General; or, bringing a lawsuit against the debt collector for violations of the FCRA.

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