Can student loan and medical bills be removed from a credit report?
Accounts that are reported accurately remain on your credit report for the period of time that is specified under the law. If the accounts in question include negative payment history (at least one missed or late payment), they will remain on your credit report for seven years from the original delinquency date.
How Do Medical Bills Impact My Credit?
Medical bills don't affect credit reports until they become a medical collection account. When a medical debt goes unpaid, the medical provider can sell the debt to a collection agency. Once the collection agency purchases the debt, they can report it to Experian and the other credit reporting agencies (Equifax and TransUnion).
Collection accounts remain on credit reports for seven years from the original delinquency date, which is the date of the first missed payment that led to the account going to collections. However, medical collections are now treated somewhat differently than they were in the past. In some cases, they are weighed less heavily in credit scores than other types of debts. And, some newer credit scoring models now exclude paid medical collections from their score calculations. This means that paying off a medical collection could help certain credit scores right away.
The newest and most common credit score models, including FICO® 8 and 9 as well as VantageScore 3.0 and 4.0, even exclude non-medical collections from your score calculation once they are paid in full.
How Long Do My Student Loans Remain on My Report?
Student loans are treated the same as any other installment loan. Accounts that have no late payment history will remain on your reports for up to 10 years from the date they were paid off. Accounts that are currently delinquent or have missed payments in the history of the account will remain on the report for seven years from the original delinquency date.
Because federal student loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education, the lender may file a claim with the government if a loan is seriously past due. If your student loan shows a status of government claim, that means the outstanding debt was paid off by the government.
A government claim doesn't mean you're free and clear of the debt, however. You'll still be responsible for paying it back. Typically, the government will open a new account for the student loan debt. The new account will likely appear on your credit report, along with the government claim, which will stay on your report for seven years after the original delinquency date.
How Can I Dispute Incorrect Information on My Report?
If you have account information on your credit report you believe is there in error, you can dispute it quickly and easily through Experian's online Dispute Center. Be specific about why the item is inaccurate and include any documentation you may have that supports your dispute. You can submit documents online or send them by mail.
You should also contact the company reporting the incorrect information. Notify them that you believe the account is appearing on your report in error and ask them to contact Experian to correct it.
Contact Your Lenders if You Are Having Financial Difficulty
If you are having financial challenges and worry you'll be unable to make your payments on time, it's best to contact your lenders before you become delinquent. In some cases, especially now as the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic persists, lenders may offer payment accommodations or other assistance to help you avoid missing payments and potentially damaging your credit history.
Honestly communicating with your lenders as quickly as possible can help you get through a financial crisis and minimize impact to your creditworthiness.
Thanks for asking,
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist
This question came from a recent Periscope session we hosted.