Home > Credit 101 > How Long Does It Take for Something to Be Removed From My Credit Report?

Comments 3 Comments

There it is, like a big financial zit on your otherwise unblemished credit report, that derogatory account information. It’s ugly and you want it to go away as quickly as possible, but before you start panicking, you should start off by making sure you have all the facts.

First, find out exactly what you’re dealing with. You can’t fix what you don’t know about, so first and foremost, get your credit report (here’s how to get your free annual credit report) and your credit score (you can get two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com) so you can see how negative items might be affecting your credit.

After that, your options will depend a lot upon what type of negative information you’re dealing with. As a general guide, here’s how long it takes for negative account information to come off your credit report.

  • Collection accounts may be reported for 7 years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor leading up to when the account was placed for collection.
  • Late payments may be reported for up to 7 years, regardless of whether the account is currently up-to-date. Get more details on how late payments hurt your credit here.
  • Bankruptcies may be reported 10 years from the date you filed, though the major credit reporting agencies will remove completed Chapter 13 cases seven years from the filing date.
  • Unpaid judgments can be reported indefinitely or until the statute of limitations expires, though credit reporting agencies will usually remove these 10 years after they were entered by the court.
  • Unpaid tax liens may also be reported indefinitely, though you may be able to get them removed sooner if you qualify under the IRS Fresh Start Program. Here’s how to handle old tax liens on your credit reports.

If you’re willing to do the work, there are some scenarios in which negative information — both accurate and inaccurate — can be removed from your credit report. (If you want help removing errors, you can go here to learn more about your options.)

Accurate, Negative Information

If there’s a blemish on your report that is legit, you still might be able to do something about it. Creditors have the power to correct or withdraw it. This is sometimes referred to as “re-aging” the account. You can ask creditors to stop reporting something that is accurate but negative because of extenuating circumstances, and sometimes they will agree.

For example, if you have always paid your credit card bill on time but then accidentally missed a payment when you were in the hospital or traveling, your issuer may be willing to stop reporting the slip-up. Or you might be able to persuade a medical provider who failed to properly bill you to pull an account back from collections.

Keep in mind that creditors and collection agencies aren’t supposed to remove negative items just because you agree to pay them. So you’ll want to have a persuasive argument as to why they should work with you.

Inaccurate, Negative Information

This one is a bit more straightforward, but still requires some effort. Requesting an investigation by the credit bureaus is the fastest way to dispute mistakes, but if it’s a more serious mistake, you might want to send a letter to the creditor in order to fully protect your rights.

“If information is changed by the lender as a result of your dispute, the lender must notify all of the consumer reporting agencies with which it shared the information of the change,” said Rod Griffin, Director of Public Education at Experian in an email. “So, you don’t have to contact [all three] credit reporting agencies, but it is still a good idea to do so to verify that the changes have been made.”

Griffin also advised working with both the creditor and the credit reporting company during the dispute process.

“The credit report reflects the information in the lenders records, so the lender needs to change that information in their files, as well as on the credit report,” he explained. “Working with the lender may result in your credit report being updated without needing to dispute through [the credit reporting agencies].”

Keep in mind the agencies and creditors need to act quickly.

“Erroneous information must be removed immediately,” Troy Doucet, a consumer attorney in Columbus, Ohio, said in an email.  Once the bureau receives notice that an error could be present, they have 30 days to validate the account.  If they cannot validate it within 30 days, or if it is wrong, then they must remove it.

“We recommend people send verification that the account is erroneous,” Doucet said.

And don’t stop regularly checking your report once an error is removed, recommended Michael Bovee, founder of Consumer Recovery Network and Credit.com contributor. “I see too many instances where deleted items reappear later,” he said in an email.

Failure to remove the erroneous information is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and you may be entitled to statutory damages of $100 to $1,000 per violation as well as actual damages for losses you suffered, emotional damages and/or punitive damages, and attorney fees.

You can find more information about filing disputes on Credit.com.

Bankruptcies, the Sticky Wickets of Credit Reports

There’s no getting around a bankruptcy on your credit report. By law, a chapter 13 bankruptcy public record will appear in a credit report for 7 years from the filing date. Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains for 10 years.

“The further in the past that the bankruptcy took place, the less impact in will have on credit scores and lending decisions,” Experian’s Griffin said. “It’s important to establish a positive payment history after bankruptcy. Over time, a positive payment history will help offset the negative effect of the bankruptcy.”

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: Wavebreak Media

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team