How Long Can Items Remain On My Credit?
By Michelle Black, CreditWriter.com
“How long can an item/account remain on my credit reports?” As a credit expert one this of the most common questions I hear on a weekly basis. If you are a credit savvy consumer then you already know that, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), derogatory information is not generally permitted to remain on your credit reports forever. The FCRA provides for federal statutes of limitations regarding how long negative information is allowed to remain on your credit reports.
Of course credit reporting time limitations will vary based upon the different types of information appearing on your credit reports. Here is a great cheat sheet for you to use when you are trying to determine whether an account has been on your report too long.
Collection Accounts: A collection can remain on your credit for 7 years from the date of default. The date of default refers to the date when the account became 180 days past due. Please note, the 7 year time clock begins when the ORIGINAL account becomes 180 days delinquent, not when the account is sold to a collection agency.
If a collection agency has illegally re-aged your account or if a debt collector is trying to manipulate the date of initial default on your account then you have the right to dispute the account under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You have the right to dispute the account on your own, but you also have the right to hire professional help if desired.
Tip: Searching for a reputable credit repair company? Visit our list of NACSO members to discover compliant, ethical credit repair companies in your area.
Charge-Off Accounts: If an account on your credit reports has been charged off the account can remain on your credit for 7 years from the charge-off date associated with the original account.
Bankruptcies: Chapters 7 and some chapter 13 bankruptcies (those which have not yet been discharged or dismissed) are allowed to remain on your report for 10 years from the date filed. Discharged chapter 13 bankruptcies may remain on your report for 7 years from the discharge date.
Repossessions: A repossession should be removed from your report 7 years from the date the auto loan initially went into default.
Judgments: A judgment is allowed to remain on your report for 7 years from the date filed.
Tax Liens: From a legal perspective, unpaid tax liens are allowed to remain on your credit report permanently. However, paid and released tax liens (federal, city, state, and county) should be removed from your credit reports 7 years from the date released. Although they are not required to do so, some of the credit bureaus may voluntarily elect to remove unpaid tax after 10 years.
(NOTE: If you have paid a federal tax lien you may be eligible to have the tax lien withdrawn and removed from your reports immediately. Ask a NACSO member in your area for advice.)
Inquiries: When you or someone else checks your credit an “inquiry” is recorded on your report. Certain types of inquiries have the potential to negatively affect your credit scores (i.e. inquiries that occur when you apply for financing). These types of inquiries are known as “hard” inquiries and are allowed to remain on your report for up to 24 months. (Tip: even though they remain on your credit for up to 24 months they are only factored into your credit scores for 12 months.)
When you check your own credit this is a “soft” inquiry. It does not hurt your credit scores. If your credit report was pulled for a pre-screened offer this also is a soft inquiry which will not hurt your scores. (Remember, you can always opt out of having your credit pulled for pre-screened offers at www.optoutprescreen.com.) As a matter of policy soft inquiries are generally maintained on credit reports between 6-24 months. You have rights! The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) exists to protect you if accounts are being reported on your credit report past the legal statute of limitations. Check your credit reports at least 1-2 times every year. You can access your reports for free once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you discover errors or violations on your reports you can dispute them or have a reputable professional to dispute them on your behalf.