How Long Does a Bad Mark Stay On Your Credit Report?

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Did you cringe the last time you downloaded your free annual credit reports? Or perhaps you don’t even want to look at them because you don’t want to be reminded of the financial and personal messes that have shown up?

There’s hope for you yet, because bad marks on your credit report do not last forever. While the average length of time is 7 years, how long your bad mark will stay on your specific credit report depends on a variety of factors such as the type of mark it is.

Since credit scores and credit reports are used in everything from potential landlords determining your reliability to your new employer checking up on you, it’s important that you get an idea of when your bad marks will be erased from your report.

Let’s take a look.

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Bad Mark #1: Bankruptcies

How long a bankruptcy stays on your credit report depends on the type of bankruptcy you filed. Chapter 13 bankruptcies may be removed from your credit report after 7 years, whereas Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcies can remain on your report for 10 years.

Check out this Experian article for much more information about bankruptcies and your credit report.

Bad Mark #2: Foreclosures

Short sales and foreclosures will remain on your credit report for 7 years.

Bad Mark #3: Tax Liens

While tax liens themselves can stay on your credit report for as long as your state laws allow, if you pay the tax lien off, then the tax lien should be removed after 7 years. The tax lien should show up as “paid” during this time period.

Bad Mark #4: Consumer Debt

Unpaid consumer debt, including things like credit cards, department store charge cards, and bank loans, can remain on your credit report for 7 years.

Bad Mark #5: Lawsuits and Convictions

Criminal convictions can stay on a credit report indefinitely. Lawsuits that involve debt can stay on a report generally for 7 years, though it depends on your state’s statute of limitations.

Bad Mark #6: Late Payments

If you’ve missed payments here and there, then you could actually be fine. Late payments aren’t generally reported to the credit reporting agencies unless they are 30 days past due. If that is the case, they will remain on your credit report for 7 years.

Bad Mark # 7: Credit Inquiries

Newsflash: whenever someone completes  what’s called a “hard pull” (credit checks initiated by you) on your credit report, you are actually dinged for it. These bad marks will remain on your report for 2 years. “Soft pulls” (credit checks not initiated by you) will remain on your credit report for 1 year but do not affect your credit score.

It should be noted that when FICO determines your credit score, they only consider credit inquiries from the last 12 months.

What Should You Do if Something Is Still Showing Up but Shouldn’t Be?

The three large credit reporting agencies – Experian, Transunion, and Equifax – automatically track the filing dates for things like bankruptcies and foreclosures, as well as track the number of years until your credit report sentence is up. This means they automatically take these bad marks off of your report as allowed.

However, that does not mean they do not make a mistake. You will want to obtain your free credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com within a month or so of when your bad mark should be off of it, and verify that it is no longer there. If it has not been automatically stricken from your report, then you will want to dispute with each agency where it is still showing up.

Here are the links for more information on how to make a dispute with each bureau: ExperianTransunion, and Equifax.

Image Credit: Robert Parviainen

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