How Long Negative Items Stay on Credit Reports

negative items on credit report

Negative items listed on a credit report are notes of past financial mistakes or lending choices that will lower a consumer’s credit score. Credit bureaus track derogatory items to determine how financially reliable and responsible a borrower is. 

While most negative items will stay on your credit report for seven years, bankruptcies will stay for ten years, hard inquiries will stay for two years and some unpaid student loans can stay forever. 

If you have negative items listed on your credit report there are still ways to mitigate their effect on your credit score, and even remove them from your credit report. Here’s an overview of how long each negative item stays on your credit report, and how you may be able to remove the items from your credit report. 

Hard Inquiries: Two Years

Hard inquiries generally stay on your credit report for two years. It’s difficult to avoid them because they occur when lenders run your credit for car loans, credit cards, mortgage loans and other application processes. You can minimize how frequently hard inquiries occur by doing research upfront and submitting loan applications to just one company at a time instead of many. 

If you are looking to apply for a credit card, first research which credit card is right for you. Then, only apply for the card you are certain to qualify for. 

One upside is if you’re comparing rates between lenders within a compact timeframe, the effect of multiple inquiries will only be counted as one. The timeframe is between 14 days and 45 days depending on the credit scoring model being used, 

Collection Accounts, Late Payments and More: Seven Years

You can expect the following items to stay on record for about seven years:

  • Collection accounts
  • Late payments
  • Charge-offs
  • Completed Chapter 13 bankruptcies
  • Closed delinquent accounts from day of reported closing 
  • Paid student loan default
  • Some unpaid student loans

Some negative items that stay on your credit report for seven years will have a greater effect than others.  For instance, older negative items like late payments followed by years of exceptional on-time payments will have less weight on an overall score. If you have a bunch of negative items from six years ago but everything else since then has been exceptional, your credit score can be pretty good. Lenders may assess you as a relatively safe risk.

Credit repair can minimize or even remove the impact of some of these items. For one thing, some items may be inaccurate. Also, the lender may not be able to substantiate the account. Take a charge-off for example. The creditor should be able to show things such as your payment history, the current balance of the account, the initial agreement between you and the creditor and, if a collection agency is involved, the right of the agency to pursue the debt and the transfer of debt ownership. If these standards are not met, the odds of you possibly getting that item removed before seven years pass are much higher.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcies: 10 Years

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to 10 years. Although most of the individual accounts associated with the bankruptcy (such as a delinquent car loan) should disappear within seven years. The credit repair process can make sure the bankruptcy is reported accurately and that any accounts associated with it are being treated accordingly.

Unpaid Perkins Federal Student Loans: Forever

Unpaid Perkins Federal student loans might never come off your credit report. This is because the money you borrowed is money from the government. Not only that, but federal student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Unpaid private student loans come off after about seven years. 

The Bottom Line

Creditors do not always send accurate information to the credit bureaus, and accounts can be linked to the wrong people. Credit repair services can help check for errors and make sure that creditors report accurate information on your credit reports to get you the most accurate score possible. To find out more, read over our FAQs.

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