How long will negative information remain on my credit report?

You know that your credit score is based on your money management history – and if you’re working hard to rebuild your rating, it can be very frustrating to see the same old negative information showing up on your credit report.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do except wait it out. Your new, good habits will show up, and that will help your score, but the old stuff will remain for a while.

A bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years, which will seem like an eternity until you’re looking back at it. Other negative information generally stays for 7 years, unless you can get the creditor to give you a letter to delete an item.

An unpaid tax lien will stay there until 7 years after the paid date.

Of course, if you’ve proven to the credit bureaus that an item was in error, that will be removed immediately.

What goes on the report?

Public Records – bankruptcies, court and default judgments, liens, and foreclosures.

Late payments – listed as 30 days late, 60 days late, 90 days late, and 120+ days late.

Charge offs – Accounts that are in default and which the creditor has charged off and reported as a loss.

Collections – An account that has been turned over to a collection agency.

After the “bad stuff” your credit report will list all your accounts in good standing.

We don’t know the exact formula FICO uses to compute your score, but we do know that the more accounts in good standing, the better. So if your credit needs repair, keep as many accounts in good standing as possible.

You may not recognize the names of your creditors as listed on your credit report. It will help to know that “I” stands for installment loan, “R” stands for revolving credit, and “M” stands for mortgage.

If you get your credit report and see unusual names and can’t match them up with any of your accounts, do not hesitate to call the credit bureau that reported it – in fact, do it immediately. Only if you know who is reporting what can you address the validity of the entry.

And of course, if you find out “who” and you’re not familiar with the company, you need to file a protest immediately. You could be looking at a case of stolen identity.

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