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A credit report provides a history of your dealings with creditors, and your open accounts will remain on your reports as long as they're active. But when it comes to certain types of information related to individual accounts—both positive and negative—a credit report's memory may last anywhere from two to 10 years.
That said, an item's impact on your credit score over time isn't static. Understanding how long something stays on your credit report and how it influences your credit score can help you make better decisions, particularly if you need to rebuild your credit.
|How Long Information Stays on Your Credit Reports
|Type of Information
|Open accounts in good standing
|Closed accounts in good standing
10 years from the closure date
|Chapter 7 bankruptcy
10 years from the filing date
|Chapter 13 bankruptcy
|7 years from the filing date
7 years from the original delinquency
|Late or missed payments
|7 years from the original delinquency
|Default, including foreclosure, repossession and settlement
|7 years from the original delinquency
|Hard credit inquiries
2 years from the date of the inquiry
How Long Does Negative Information Remain on Your Credit Reports?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the federal statute that defines consumer rights related to credit reporting, including how long certain information may legally remain on your credit reports.
Because most negative items are related to payment history—and your payment history is the most influential factor in your FICO® Score☉ —they tend to do a lot of damage and can remain on your credit for a long time:
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy: Because Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves wiping out eligible debts after the liquidation of certain assets, it will stay on your credit reports for 10 years, three years longer than its counterpart.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy: Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 involves restructuring your debts so you can pay off some of what you owe over a period of three or five years, based on your situation. Because there's more commitment, it remains on your credit report for seven years instead of 10.
- Collection accounts: If your lender sends a past-due balance to collections, an additional tradeline will show up on your credit reports. This will appear on your credit reports for seven years from the date your account became delinquent and was never brought current.
- Late or missed payments: If you're late on a payment by 30 days or more, that negative mark will remain on your credit reports for seven years. While you may also see additional notations on payments that are 60, 90, 120, 150 or 180-plus days past due, the seven-year period is fixed based on the original delinquency date.
- Default: Depending on the type of loan you have and your lender, default can occur anywhere between 30 and 270 days after your first missed payment. If your default results in a foreclosure, repossession or debt settlement, the derogatory mark will stay on your credit reports for up to seven years from the original delinquency date.
While these negative items can remain on your credit reports for a long time, their impact on your credit score can diminish over time, especially if you practice good credit habits going forward.
Note, too, that a high credit card balance relative to its credit limit can damage your credit score. However, because your account balances get updated each month, paying down a balance may result in an immediate impact on your credit score once your card issuer reports the new amount.
How Long Does Positive Information Remain on Your Credit Reports?
The FCRA doesn't require creditors to remove positive information from your credit reports. As a result, positive information on your open accounts will typically stay on your reports as long as the account remains open.
After you close a credit card account or pay off a loan, its positive information will remain on your credit reports and continue to benefit your credit score for 10 years after the closure or payoff date.
How Long Do Inquiries Stay on a Credit Report?
A credit inquiry occurs when an institution, such as a lender, insurance company, utility company or employer, requests to review your credit file. There are two types of credit inquiries, both of which come off your credit reports after two years.
A hard inquiry will appear on your credit report when you apply for credit, such as a loan, credit card or line of credit. One inquiry on its own won't impact your credit score by much, if at all, and if you're rate-shopping for a certain type of loan, such as an auto or home loan, multiple inquiries in a small window of time from different lenders are often combined into one for credit-scoring purposes.
Multiple inquiries in a short period of time unrelated to rate-shopping, however, can have a more significant impact on your credit score—though that influence decreases over time. The good news is that, while they'll stay on your reports for two years, they only affect your FICO® Score for one year.
A soft inquiry can occur in a number of situations, including the following:
- A lender runs your credit (without your express permission) to send you a preapproval offer
- An insurer checks your credit to develop a credit-based insurance score to help determine policy premiums
- An employer runs a credit check when you apply for a job
- A utility company checks your credit before connecting your service to determine whether to require a deposit
While soft inquiries stay on your credit reports for two years, they don't affect your credit scores.
How to Remove Negative Information From Your Credit Report
If a derogatory credit item on your credit report is accurate and verifiable, there is no way to remove it from your reports.
However, if you find something on your credit report that's incorrect, you have the right to file a dispute with each credit bureau that lists the inaccurate information on your report. Each credit bureau has its own dispute process, but with Experian, you can file a dispute online, over the phone or via the mail.
Provide the reason for your dispute and any documentation you have to support your claim. Once you submit it, the credit bureau will typically resolve it within 30 days and either verify, correct or remove the information, depending on the results of the investigation.
Time Is on Your Side
While positive information on active accounts will remain on your credit reports indefinitely, both negative information and positive information on a closed account will eventually fall off your credit reports. In other words, even the worst credit mistakes can fade away with time.
If you're uncertain about your credit health or want to get a better understanding of how certain items are influencing your credit score, register for Experian's free credit monitoring service and get access to your Experian credit report and FICO® Score.
While your credit score can give you a snapshot of your overall credit health, your credit report provides the information you need to determine which areas you can address to improve your score. You'll also get real-time alerts when changes are made to your credit report and access to resources to help you improve your credit over time.