In our regular surveys of consumers who come to the Equifax website and who call our call centers, this is by far the most asked question.
It’s understandable, given how credit is so important to someone’s personal finances. Mostly, consumers who ask this question are concerned about how negative information like bankruptcies, judgments, and late payments affects their credit history and score.
Luckily, there are set time frames for how long negative information remains on a credit report. In general, negative information more than seven years old from the date of last activity (ten years for bankruptcies) must be removed from your file.
When it comes to a credit history and score, consumers often mistakenly believe that any negative information in their credit report comes from the credit reporting agency.
In fact, all information, both positive and negative, is reported to the three nationwide credit reporting agencies by lenders who have granted you credit, is included in public record information, or is reported by collection agencies. Credit reporting agencies compile this information and lists it in your credit report.
Here’s a rundown of how long certain types of credit information will remain on your credit history:
- Accounts paid as agreed generally remain on your credit file for up to ten years from the date of last activity (DLA).
- Accounts not paid as agreed generally remain on your credit file for seven years from the date the account first became past due, leading to the current not-paid status.
- Late-payment history generally remains on your credit file for seven years. It’s important to note that accounts with current statuses, such as R1 (revolving debt) and I1 (installment debt), that reflect previously late payment history will remain on the credit file for up to ten years from the date of the last activity-only the late payment history is removed after seven years.
- Collection accounts generally remain on your credit file for seven years from the date the account first became past due, leading to the account’s placement with a collection agency.
- Judgments generally remain on your credit file for seven years from the date filed, whether satisfied (paid) or not.
- Paid tax liens generally remain on your credit file for seven years from the date released (paid).
- Unpaid tax liens generally remain on your credit file indefinitely.
- A bankruptcy under chapter 7 or 11 or a non-discharged or dismissed chapter 13 bankruptcy generally remains on your credit file for ten years from the date filed.
- A discharged chapter 13 bankruptcy generally remains on your credit file for seven years from the date filed.
- Inquiries are a record of companies and others who obtained a copy of your Equifax credit file. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that Equifax disclose to you who requested copies of your credit file. Depending on the reason your credit file was accessed, credit reporting agencies generally retain these for one to two years.
- Some types of inquiries you might see on your credit report are not reported to others or used in credit score calculations. Promotional inquiries, in which your name and address were provided to a person who made you a firm offer of credit or insurance, such as a pre-approved credit card offer, generally remains on your credit file for twelve months and does not affect your credit score. An account monitoring or account review inquiries happen when one of your creditors performs a periodic review of your credit file in connection with reviewing your account. These inquiries generally remain on your credit file for twelve months and do not affect your credit score. Remember, when you request your credit report, these inquiries will generally remain on your file for twenty-four months and do not affect your credit score. Some states, like New York and California have additional laws
New York State Residents Only (must be current resident)
- Satisfied judgments remain on your credit file for five years from the date filed.
- Paid collections remain on your credit file for five years from the date of last activity/date paid.
- All other deletion rules apply as noted above.
California State Residents Only (must be current resident)
- Paid or released tax liens remain on your credit file for seven years from the date released or ten years from the date filed.
- Unpaid or unreleased tax liens remain on your credit file for ten years from the file date.
If you disputed an item and the investigation did not resolve the dispute, you have the right to file a brief statement with the consumer reporting agency, free of charge, explaining the nature of the event(s) that led to the negative information reporting on the Equifax credit report.
Consumers can edit the statement or request that it be removed from the credit report at any time, also free of charge.
Opting Out of Promotional Offers
Consumers can request to opt out or have their name removed from any promotional offerings, free of charge.
Have you checked your credit report recently? Now that you know how long positive and negative information stays on your credit history, you should pull a copy and make sure that all of your information is accurate and reflects your personal financial history.
Check back next month, when I’ll share more answers to the list of most frequently asked questions.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.