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Negative Items on Your Credit Report

The FCRA limits the length of time a credit bureau can report negative items on your credit report while positive and neutral items are usually reported indefinitely.

The amount of damage each negative item impacts your score decreases over time. That means your bad credit can’t last forever as long as you start implementing some positive behaviors.

Negative items can successfully be removed from your report before the usual time limit, although it’s not always possible depending on your situation. You might also prefer spending your time getting newer negative items removed since older ones drop off earlier.

Here’s a look at each type of negative item you may find on your credit report, and how long you can expect them to stay there if you are unable or don’t try to get them removed.

Late Payments

Even if you eventually catch up on what you owe, any payment that is late more than 30 days appears on your credit report.

However, some creditors don’t report the past due payment until a second payment is owed because they don’t want to upset good customers who simply forgot the deadline and made it up the following month. Credit reporting rules do require that after a second payment is missed, all past due payments must be reported.

Late payments or delinquent accounts may be reported for up to seven years after the date of the last scheduled payment.

Collections

Collections are complicated because paying them off may actually end up hurting your credit score by resetting the start date from when it was reported. Before taking action on collections, consult with a credit agency before making a payment.

Like charge-offs, collection accounts may be reported for up to seven years from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor.

Charge Offs

charge-off occurs when a creditor decides a debt is not collectible. Rather than carry it on their books as an overdue or past due debt, they can instead eliminate it from their reportable past due accounts.

By charging off the debt, the company’s accounts receivable report improves; however, that doesn’t mean the debt has disappeared. In most cases, the debt is sold to a “debt buyer” who pays pennies on the dollar for the face value of the debt.

By purchasing the debt, the debt buyer can now attempt to collect the amount owed (plus court fees, interest, late charges, and more) by contacting the debtor and taking them to court for the full value plus any applicable fees.

The debt buyers, also known as collection agencies, have been known to use questionable tactics in order to scare or intimidate the debtor into making a payment on the collection account. Collection agencies are forced by law to provide details on the collections account before receiving payment. Always consult a credit professional before making a payment to a collection agency as there have been numerous scams against debtors. 

If you have a charge off on your credit report, it can stay there for up to seven years plus 180 days from the original date of delinquency and negatively affect your credit score.

Foreclosures

Foreclosures may also be reported for up to seven years.Once you are able to start making improvements toward your credit score, you will be able to be approved for a loan or mortgage. You could qualify for a mortgage as soon as two years, though sometimes longer depending on the type of loan.

Repossessions

Repossessions may be reported for up to seven years. When the property or car has been taken back by the lender, the debtor is still obligated by the original loan. They may work out a payment to take back possession of the property but the upfront cost is usually substantial. 

Judgments

Judgments may be reported for up to seven years from the date the lawsuit was filed or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is longer.

Most statutes of limitation are shorter than seven years, so that is the likely maximum time a judgment or lawsuit will show up on your credit report. To be sure, check your specific state laws for details.

If a judgement remains on your credit report past the statue of limitations you are able to dispute the negative item on your credit report and have it removed to reflect the correct information.

Bankruptcies

A bankruptcy may be reported for no more than ten years from the date you initially filed. If your case was dismissed, the ten years starts from the date of dismissal.

The amount of time also depends on the type of bankruptcy you filed. Chapter 13 bankruptcies stay on for only seven years, while Chapter 7 bankruptcies remain on your credit report for the full ten years.

Tax Liens

Under federal law, unpaid tax liens may be reported on your credit reports indefinitely. However, the credit bureaus could remove them after a decade or so. You can do this by sending a goodwill letter to and asking the credit bureau to remove the negative account from your credit report. Paid tax liens may be reported from the date of payment for up to seven years.