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Just how long does negative information remain on a credit report?

We commonly get asked how long negative information stays on a credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act limits how long a credit reporting agency can report legitimate negative items on a credit report. If someone runs into financial hardships or makes a mistake resulting in derogatory marks on a credit report, a credit bureau can generally report such negative information for seven years past the first major delinquency. Beyond that point the negative information is considered “obsolete.” For instance, once a delinquency, such as a late payment or past-due account sent to collections, is reported, it remains on a credit report for seven years. Similarly, information about a collection lawsuit or a judgment can be reported for seven years or until the statues of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

When it comes to bankruptcies, the length of time a filing can appear on a credit report depends on the type. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which involves creating a repayment plan for some or all of an individual’s debts, stays on a credit report for seven years. However, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on a credit report for up to 10 years from the date the bankruptcy was filed.

Don’t assume that derogatory marks will automatically be removed from your credit report once the time has elapsed. Instead, review your credit report with the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—to ensure that negative information has been timely removed. One problem that is occasionally seen an illegal practice known as re-aging, where an account is reported by a furnisher with an inaccurate date of first delinquency, to keep the account from falling off the consumer’s report after it is obsolete. Credit reporting agencies and furnishers make mistakes, and you might have to take action to remove the negative information.


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