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How Long Do Closed Accounts Stay on My Credit Report?

Written by Diane Moogalian on August 19, 2013 in Credit  |   48 comments

The question of how long closed accounts remain on a credit report is one of the most frequently asked on the Equifax Finance Blog. Whether you request that a creditor close an account on your behalf or a creditor closes an account after seeing a…

credit, credit reportThe question of how long closed accounts remain on a credit report is one of the most frequently asked on the Equifax Finance Blog. Whether you request that a creditor close an account on your behalf or a creditor closes an account after seeing a long period of inactivity, the account history usually won’t immediately be erased from your credit file.

Q: How long do closed accounts stay on my credit report?

A: First things first: Closing an account does not remove it from your credit report. Even if you close an inactive account, you could still have recent account activity posted on your credit summary if the creditor reports something to the reporting agencies, like a change in the report date or the account’s date of last activity, for example.

The exact length of time the closed account appears on your credit report, however, will depend on the payment history of the closed account.

There are set time periods for how long closed accounts and negative information remain on a credit report, depending on the type. Generally speaking, negative information will stay on your credit report for seven years from the date of last activity, but bankruptcies can appear on your credit report for 10 years from the date of last activity.

Let’s walk through a few scenarios to help you better understand what really happens:

Accounts in good standing: Credit accounts that are closed but were paid as agreed, will normally remain on your credit report for up to 10 years from the date of last activity. Positive information on open accounts in good standing, however, can stay on your credit report forever.

Charged off accounts: On the other hand, accounts that were not paid as agreed and charged off (meaning the debt became seriously delinquent and the creditor has given up on being paid and has closed the account to future use, although the debt is still owed)will generally remain on your credit report for seven years plus 180 days from the start of the delinquency that led to the charge off..

Account in collections: If you have an account in collections, it will usually remain on your credit report for seven years plus 180 days from the date the account first became past due. The countdown to the account falling off your credit report begins 180 days after the start of the delinquency that led to the collection. Closing the account doesn’t remove it from collections, nor does it remove the collection and payment history from your credit report.

As you continue to monitor your credit report going forward, always make sure that your negative accounts have fallen off after the appropriate period of time has elapsed.

Remember that if you have ever disputed an item on your credit report and the resulting investigation did not end in a resolution, you have the right to file a free statement in order to explain the events that led to the negative information reporting on your Equifax credit file. Once submitted, you can either edit the statement or ask that it be removed from your credit report at no cost.

Diane Moogalian is vice president of operations for Equifax Personal Solutions with responsibility for operational strategy and execution in support of customer care and fulfillment of credit and identity-related products for consumers. Prior to joining Equifax in 2007, Diane held several strategic roles with leading financial services companies. Diane graduated from the University of Richmond with a bachelor of science degree in business administration (marketing and economics) and earned a certificate in international business from Virginia Commonwealth University.

48 comments

  1. Larry McLaughlin says:

    Why does your company not correct credit report errors? I was horrified by the 6- Minutes report last night on CBS.

  2. Lou says:

    I think it’s terrible that when you payoff collections on your credit report, which mine were due to being unemployed and they still report them as collections are charge-offs for up to seven years. When persons are trying to re-establish themselves by paying off these debts it should be deleted. The credit reports still show you as a credit risk and you still
    can’t get credit. I couldn’t even get a secured credit card because they
    report the collection accounts that are paid in full.

    • john says:

      If you paid the debt in full usally you have to dispute it .
      then those companies wont responde so it will be removed or updated

      • Mitch says:

        Don’t believe that! I paid off my car and two credit cards and it is still on my credit as a negative. Due to hardship I got behind, but in the end paid it off. Won’t let me dispute it even though it has been since 2008.

        • Pam says:

          Mitch, those items can be taken off if the account has been paid in full. Do not dispute on-line; do it via mail, and request for it to be removed because it is paid in full.

    • EliP says:

      There is something you can do PRIOR to paying the debt off. When speaking with the credito, make removing the collections debt from your credit report part of the payment agreement. Require a letter be sent staying that once (agreed upon) payment is made in full that the debt be poignantly removed from your credit report. DO NOT MAKE A PAYMENT BEFORE THE LETTER IS RECEIVED. Still, it can take a few months for it to be removed for your report, but if it isn’t, contact them. If they do nothing, then you can contact the credit bureau to dispute and have the letter to send them as proof.

      • EliP says:

        *permanently, not poignantly

        • Anonymous says:

          I dont think the collection agency or collector would give a letter without a payment.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’ve actually just been going through this, but in my case I was able to tell them I needed their written statement of my settlement offer and the fact that it would be reported as ‘paid in full legally for lesser amount’ to take to a family member in order to get them to agree to help me pay it, and that I would have to call them back with the payment information they gave me after receiving the letter (which I had sent to my family member directly by fax by the collection agency). I bought like a day before they started calling me again, which thankfully was enough time for my family member to agree and provide them with a payment method. This was last week, though, so I’m waiting to see how the whole thing shakes out in the end.

  3. Karina Rizo says:

    I totally agree with Lou. I paid off all my negative accounts and they still show up as negative and collection and my credit score is the same as if I still have not paid them. What is up with that? It has to be a way that that can be changed so people trying to fix their credit by paying off an account that has been put in collections can reestablish their credit.

    • Anonymous says:

      The point of a credit report is to give the creditor a picture of what type of person the potential borrower is (financially speaking). Just because you suddenly became financially stable enough to pay off your debts does not mean you’ll never do it again. It’s like trusting a heroin addict who has been sober for a few months. I wouldn’t loan him money either.

      • Kurdistan says:

        You work for the bank we know that

      • Anonymous says:

        Please don’t compare people who lost their jobs and fell behind to Heroin addicts!
        I have always paid my bills on time and currently doing so. My husband i worked for the same company and we both got laid off and we fell behind.
        S… happens and i find it sad that because i had 1 rough year i am now going to pay for it for the next 10 years!!! doesn’t seem right to me!

        • Anonymous says:

          perhaps you should have saved money in the bank for such a rainy day? or not over extended yourself? A bank will your situation as a very different credit risk vs someone who saves and doesnt allow themselves to be in a situation. You act is if the banks are REQUIRED to loan you their money?!

          • Anonymous says:

            You are an ignorant boob. Even people who saved for a ‘rainy day’ have unforeseen problems. You shouldn’t compare hard working people who have lost their jobs to heroin addicts.

          • anonymous 14 says:

            Love this!! You could be writing the same advice to all the banks that needed the bail out :) Where was their rainy day fund??? Seems this system doesn’t work both ways does it????

      • Anonymous says:

        I have been paying off past debt for over 4 years, everything is paid in full. But it still shows everything negative even though I have had new credit cards that have been paid on time for well over a year now. I don’t think negative credit should stay on your report for 7 years, maybe more like 5. I agree that you should have to prove that your old habits have changed but 7 years is a long time and is frustrating to people like me who have been consisting paying one time for years now.

      • love7 says:

        Oh come on seriously. I was in college just graduated got in a major car accident didn’t have insurance or a job and u couldn’t pay the hospital bills so they immediately put in collections. A lot of students have that problem even with credit cards bc they did have great credit at 25-27 yrs old and then couldn’t find a job or is still in school. Btw hungry and poor bc we have no money and doing it without anyone’s support and that was the only way. I graduated college and have been able to pay all those off..and showing as negative even though they have been payed. If I was irresponsible I wouldn’t have been so worried or much less bother to pay them off if I knew I could wait 7 yrs. Don’t judge if you had it easy.

      • CreditScoreScams says:

        This is the DUMBEST response ever! All a Credit Score is to a bank is how profitable you are or can be to them. People, please don’t buy into this whole stupid credit game. If your score is bad, clean it up, dispute constantly, pay off you bad debt, and start paying for everything in cash, or via a debit card directly. Don’t use credit cards, avoid loans as much as possible. Credit scores are a scam created by the banks to force more people into debt. Don’t play their game! Don’t buy what you can’t afford and if you do get a loan, pay it off early….. Very early.

      • Anonymous says:

        The heroin addict analogy is way off base. Losing your job is not a personal decision… taking heroine is. See the difference?

  4. lloyd says:

    If a collection account is paid it should be removed,,,, that’s my opinion,,, why even bother paying a collection if its still going to screw up a credit report..f#@+ it I guess ill just wait 7 years and keep my money.

  5. John L. says:

    The only conclusion is, when an account goes into ‘collection’ accept the fact your credit score will suffer for 7 yrs.

    Credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian & Transunion) accept data from their (paying) reporting members only. Affidavits & bonafide court/ public documents are not accepted by Equifax, Transunion & Experian. Their ‘business model’ is a blatant government sanctioned/ protected cartel.

    So everyone w/ discharged mortgages, divorce decrees, expunged convictions, etc. forget thinking Equifax, Transunion, Experian, et. al. will accept & enter the obviously valid documentation into your credit file.

    Reporting members are not known for their generosity in assisting non-members in clearing up old accounts & sullied reputations.

    And no, individuals are not eligible to be ‘reporting members’ – not even for a (steep) membership fee.

  6. Robert M. says:

    I’m sorry but I’m still not so clear on this…
    I have an old Chase credit card account that was cancelled due to delinquint payments exactly 7 years ago this past December (12/2006) – Is that considered the date the account first became past due? My report shows that the last payment I made was on 4/2008 – well after the account was closed. So, will this “drop off” my credit report 180 days from now, or 180 days from 4/2008?

  7. Anonymous says:

    credit reporting agencies are bottom feeders and are there for 1 purpose and its to ruin good ppl who went through a rough spell. hell i have stuff showing on mine that has been closed for 10 yrs. so the 7yrs is a bunch of shit. they work with the credit reoair ppl to so they can get yor money that away as well

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well I have items on mine that don’t even belong to me, been trying to get them removed, but, have had no response from anyone.

  9. anonymous says:

    I live in NYS and I had a paid judgement which was filed 3/2009 removed by experian & transunion because it was five years. Equifax will not remove it next month. Why? All agencies should be on the same page.

  10. Credit's complicated says:

    I don’t think people who have excellent credit and look down on people who don’t will ever understand until they have been in our shoes. I had excellent credit and paid all my bills on time. Then boom one day got laid off! went through hell trying to support my family and had to choose. Food on the table, lights or credit. I wish I could have made it all work but no way. Now my credit is shot and had to file bankruptcy just to try to get things back on track and now can’t get any credit to try to fix anything. It’s all a hot mess when it comes to credit. And just because my life took a turn when I lost my job and had to make choices doesn’t mean the I will allows be late on my payments and I am a bad risk. Which I understand creditors don’t care about our situations at all.

  11. Waited out the 7 year curse says:

    What it boils down to is once an account is closed for negative reasons or goes into collection status, there is really no reason to pay it off. Paying it will not change the negative impact it had on your credit, and it will be there for 7 years regardless of whether you end up paying it or not. Once the state statute of limitations has been reached, you cannot be sued or have any legal action taken against you. In Georgia, this is after two years. Each state is different, but very few are for the entire 7 year period. I say save your money so you can pay cash for what you need during the 7 years that the account messes up your credit!

  12. Good people have bad credit! says:

    We were going to file bankruptcy but we can only file a chapter 13 and the restrictions on that are insane. I was wondering about my charged off accounts and I figured out that so far 15,000 of my debt has been charged off. In reality this means that the total that I would owe for bankruptcy is actually 15,000 less as I reported those bills also. Is this a correct assumption?

  13. Erin says:

    Ok I have a question. I had a credit card and they closed it because I took out a student loan which lowered my credit score. I still had a balance on the credit card when they closed my account. Is the 10 year rule still true if the lender was the one who closed my account and not my choice? If so, when does the 10 year period begin? From the date I pay off the balance? Or from the date the account was closed?

  14. Marie says:

    I am in the process right now of fixing my credit. I am doing this all on my own. No help from settlement agencies. I have accounts in collections, accounts past due and charged off accounts. What I am doing works for all of them. I send a certified letter to the company with an amount I am willing to settle for, usually 40%. with the stipulation that if they accept my offer once the settlement is paid they must remove their account from my credit report. Then if the company accepts this they send me back a letter with their acceptance and agreement to my stipulations in writing. I keep copies of everything. And check my credit report 3 months after payment, this is how long it usually takes for the account to be removed. The companies can do this, its within their power. It is their job to do this if they want money. It works try it.

    • Rachel says:

      Is this for the company (the company’s collection office) the debt is with or will it work for a collection agency that is handling the debt?

    • Miami says:

      It’s amazing how some of them will rather not get any money at all before removing the account from your report while getting at least part of it. I was able to successfully remove some information from my CR that should not have been there, but I called a medical collection agency that owns 3 of my collection accounts to settle and have my negative info removed and they flat out refused…oh wells, since it will stay there for years and make no positive impact on my score then they won’t see a penny from me.

    • Chantel says:

      Marie, great advice… Just curious, is it still working out for you? I have medical bills in collections, trying to decide if it’s worth paying them off. Your way seems to be effective.

    • KC says:

      I also settled my accounts on my own ~ 4 years ago; I wish I’d thought of asking them to remove it from my credit reports though as that would have saved me a lot of time trying to build my credit back up. I’m in my 4th year of 7 years to clear the delinquent accounts and have a score of 654 – It’s not as bad as I thought it would be and even have been able to open credit cards up (I pay them off every month now)

      If you are wondering if you should pay a company to settle your accounts – don’t do it, have patience, tenacity, and a strong will-power and you can settle them all on your own (and save yourself money and potential scam companies. I settled most of mine for 30 – 33 cents on the dollar.

  15. Todd says:

    Wish I would have read this page and comments a few months ago, when I paid nearly $3000 in past due accounts to get all my past dues paid off. Only to find they are still on my credit report, and after contacting each credit bureau with proof of payment, they all tell me the debt is “valid” and in other words, are still going to show up negative until they eventually fall off. So not only am I out $3000 but have nothing to show for it. #%^@& the credit bureaus!

  16. Marvin Beckform says:

    the big 3 credit report agencies are a scam for big business…. Low credit or a well damaged credit scores equal billions of dollars in outrageously high interest rates on sub-prime loans, pay day loans, and debt collection companies.

    These agencies collect information on you sell it as fact. We are pushing for a method that ensures you are notified and given an opportunity to dispute data before it is added to your report as fact before they can deliver their false misleading product that causes long term harm to families. And if a agency sells or electronically delivers information that you can prove is false you will be allowed to take action against the agencies delivery of harmful slanderous information. Please get on board when the opportunity arises.

  17. dead girl says:

    My report says I’m deceased. I have been trying to have it removed for years.

    • Tamara says:

      That’s what I am doing. Waiting to the end to pay it since it won’t be removed. But sometimes u can talk to the creditors ans make an agreement of removal. Usually takes 3-6 months

    • Pete says:

      Hummm…That brings up another question. How long does your credit report stay active after they report you as deceased? Not much use to anybody I would think???

  18. Amy says:

    Ok. I have a question. I returned a car in 2009. I knew it was going to be a hit what I didn’t expect was for the company to just now turn it in as voluntary repossession. So even month for the past 5 years I have gotten hit for late payments. Well not true there is a huge chunk of time they reported no data then one day just decided to start hitting my credit again. What is the statute of limitations on these things. Is there a time frame where they can report certain things? I’m not upset about the initial hit because I knew what I as getting into but the continued issue is really a beating.

  19. Pete says:

    While not paying off a debit because it stays on your report anyway sounds like a good idea, remember that a collection agency can bring a law suit against you and sue for the entire amount. A judge can have the money garnished from your pay check if you work and it STILL will remain on your report as neg. credit. The only way around having to repay is if you are old enough, start collecting social security. They can not garnish your social security. It’s protected income. If you are at that age, who cares that much about great credit? That’s what kids are for..lol. Seriously though, be careful of being sued if your bad account is within the statute of limitations…and it does vary by state. Hope this helps someone.

  20. HELP!!! says:

    What happens when you use a debt settlement company to act on your behalf for credit cards and personal loans? Is the seven years plus 180 days stay on my credit history when I first started using the debt settlement company to settle my accounts or is the seven years plus 180 days after the account is closed by the debt settlement company and the creditor?

  21. rob says:

    if an account has been closed for more than seven years can a collection company reopen the account to collect money?
    and if I refuse to pay the collection company can they re add it to my credit report?


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