Length of Time Items Stay on a Credit Report

How long do items stay on a credit report? A lot of people will answer that question with a simple: “seven years.” In some cases this is true. Overall though, it’s not that simple. Both positive and negative items have a “life span” and those are not all the same.

Let’s start with something simple. Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act section 605, any derogatory item, i.e. late payment, charge off, collection, etc. will remain on a credit report for seven years from the date it originally became delinquent. For example, if you have a collection that begins in 2010 for an unpaid medical debt and in 2013 that collection agency sells the debt to another collection agency, the seven years will not start over. The debt should fall off the credit report seven years from the date it first became delinquent, no matter how many times it’s sold. This includes the first collection agency that held the debt and any subsequent collection agencies it was sold to, even though they might have owned the debt for only a year.

Public records can be a little more complicated. A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will remain on your credit for seven years from the date it was filed. A Chapter 7 on the other hand will remain on your credit report for 10 years from the date it was filed. The actual accounts on the credit report that were included in the bankruptcy will only stay on the credit report for seven years. But the public record will remain for 10 years.

Judgments will remain on your credit report for seven years from the date filed. Those should fall off after that time whether they are satisfied or not. There are some states that have a four or five-year statute of limitations for judgments. However they can still stay on your credit report for seven years as dictated by the FCRA rules. Paid tax liens usually remain on your credit report for seven years from the release date. Unpaid tax liens can remain on your credit report indefinitely. One exception to this is if you are a resident of California. Unpaid tax liens there will remain on your credit report for 10 years from the file date and should then fall off.

Credit accounts, such as credit cards that are paid on time will stay on your credit report for 10 years from the date of last activity (DLA). So it is always a good idea to occasionally use the credit cards that you do have so that the DLA stays current. If these don’t stay current, they will eventually fall off which could have a negative impact on credit scores as all that positive history is lost.

Hard inquiries which are those pulled by companies you apply for credit through will stay on your credit report for 24 months. Soft inquiries which are inquiries from credit reports you pull on yourself or inquiries pulled by creditors you have existing relationships with will stay on your credit report for 12 months. Soft inquires do not have any impact on your credit scores.

It is always a good idea to check your credit report every year to make sure that any information that should no longer be reported is gone. While these items are supposed to fall off after certain time frames, it doesn’t always happen that way. If you find things on your credit report that should no longer be reporting you need to dispute those with the credit bureaus to have them removed.

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