Do you have a question about consumer credit? You may find an immediate answer by using the search engine. If you can't find what you're looking for, please fill out the form, being as specific as possible.
Please note: The Ask Experian team cannot respond to each question individually. However, if your question is of interest to a wide audience of consumers, the Experian team will include it in a future column.
The information contained in this column if for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should consult your own attorney or seek specific advice from a legal professional regarding your particular situation.
Please understand that Experian policies change over time. Column responses reflect Experian policy at the time of writing. While maintained for your information, archived responses may not reflect current Experian policy.
Topics addressed on December 12, 2007:
Credit scores don’t just look at the last two years of credit history
I have a two part question. First, is it true that only the last two years of history determine your score? Second, is it true that if you make a payment on a negative account more than two years old it will drop your credit score by bringing negative activity into current activity?
The answer to your first question is no. Credit scores do not look at just the last two years of your credit history. Credit scores weigh your entire credit history, from the most recent information to the oldest information it contains.
There are two general points that are almost always true. First, the longer your credit history is with no negative information, such as late payments, the better. Second, the older negative information is, the less significant it becomes.
Paying on a negative account will affect credit scores, but far more positively than negatively. Scores sometimes dip a bit when you make a payment because there is new activity on the account that creates instability in the credit history. It doesn’t make the negative information go away. However, if you bring the account payments current your credit scores will improve substantially over time.
If your credit scores are low already, the initial dip will be insignificant in terms of your ability to get credit, but improvement from making the payments eventually will result in higher scores. It is always more beneficial to pay your debts if you can, even after they have become seriously delinquent.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team