This is one of the most common questions when it comes to credit report information. It’s of most concern when you have negative data on your credit report, which can seriously impact your credit scores. The information on your credit reports is compiled by the credit reporting agencies from many different sources. The account information such as credit cards, mortgages, and car loans is reported by the credit grantors. Public records such as judgments, civil suits, bankruptcies and tax liens are delivered electronically from public record venders of PACER. Collection agencies report accounts that have been turned over to them to collect upon.
For your convenience, I have listed the categories in alphabetical order and the length of time each remains on your credit report.
Accounts Paid on Time – Accounts that have never been late can stay on your credit report indefinitely or can be removed ten years from the last time the account had activity. If the account is closed, this would be based upon the date it was closed. If the account still has activity, it will stay until there has been no activity for 7 years. If the account is currently paid on time, but there has been late payments in the past, the late history is removed seven years from the date the delinquency was first reported. The account remains, but the negative information is removed.
Bankruptcies – Chapter 7, 11 and non-discharged or dismissed chapter 13 bankruptcies are removed in ten years from the filing date. Chapter 13s are removed seven years from date discharged, but not to exceed 10 years.
Charge-offs – Charged off accounts are removed seven years from the date it was charged off.
Collections – There are two types of collections: the original account, which was turned over to collections and an account reported by a 3rd party collection agency. Original accounts remain for seven years from the time they went 180 days delinquent prior to the default. Accounts reported by a collection agency remain for seven years from the same date. This means that the collection can remain on your report no longer than the original account that went into default.
Inquiries – Inquiries are placed on your credit report to indicate who has looked at your credit report. Inquiries that you initiate from an application (such as credit card, auto or mortgage loan) will remain on your credit report for 2 years. When you request your own credit report, that inquiry stays for 6 months and nobody other than you sees it. Inquiries that you didn’t initiate, such as pre-approved credit offers or companies monitoring your credit report, remain for 6 months and are not seen by other companies and do not impact your score.
Judgments – Judgments stay on the credit report seven years from the filing date.
Repossessions - Repossessions are removed seven years from the date your auto loan went into default.
Tax liens – Tax liens include federal, city, state and county liens. They remain seven years from the date they’re released. If they aren’t paid they can remain indefinitely.
John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here.