How Long Do Black Marks Stay On Your Credit Report?
If you make a mistake, it's going to haunt your credit score for a long time. And unless that black mark was placed there in error, you'll just have to wait it out.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just erase bad things from our past at will? For example, what if you could go back in time and remove negative information from your credit report?
Well, you can’t (although if they invent time travel, we can reopen this discussion). For now, you’re going to have to deal with the black marks on your credit report. How long will they last, and is there anything you can do to speed up that process?
There are lots of ways your credit can get dinged.
First of all, what sort of negative information will actually appear on your credit report?
Generally late or missed payments. If you leave a payment unpaid for too long and don’t work out some sort of deal with your creditor, the account can go into collections. That’s going to be a big negative mark on your credit score.
Generally, as long as you’re paying all of your bills in full and on time—and not maxing out all your credit cards—you’ll avoid having negative marks on your credit report. However, if you have to declare bankruptcy, that will also leave a negative impact on your credit report.
Those black marks will be on your report for a while.
How long will those negative marks stay on your credit report?
“Items remain on your credit report for up to 7 years from the first date of the delinquency,” advised accredited financial counselor and author of The 7 Fruits of Budgeting, Roslyn Lash.
As for bankruptcy, “Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, bankruptcy filings can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years, starting from the date that the bankruptcy case is filed (if your bankruptcy case is dismissed before you receive a discharge of your debts, the 10-year period starts on the date that your case is dismissed),” explained Alvin Foreman, a bankruptcy attorney with Suncoast Law Office.
“However, in actual practice, the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) each have a policy of only reporting chapter 13 bankruptcy filings for seven years (They report chapter 7 bankruptcy filings for the full 10 years). The 10-year bankruptcy reporting rule does not extend the time that delinquent debts may be reported on your credit report.
“Whether or not you file bankruptcy, charged-off debts and debts sent to a collection agency may only be reported for a maximum of seven years, starting 180 days after your most recent missed payment.”
Can you get those black marks removed any earlier?
Seven to 10 years is a lot of time. Wouldn’t it be nice to speed up that process a little bit? We’ve already established that machine isn’t (yet) possible, but what about some sort of device that makes time move faster, like in that Adam Sandler movie, Click? It’s been a while since we watched it, but that worked out well, didn’t it?
No, it did not. And no, you can’t really speed things up. But it’s not all bad.
“There is nothing that you can do to speed up the process of removing your bankruptcy filing from your credit report,” Foreman told us. “However, the credit reporting agencies are required to update your credit report to reduce the balance due on each of your debts that were discharged in bankruptcy to $0. As a result, if your credit score is low due to lots of delinquent accounts, filing bankruptcy may increase your credit score by wiping out your bad debts.
“On the other hand, if you had a high credit score before filing bankruptcy, you may be able to re-establish your credit within 24 months of your bankruptcy discharge by opening new lines of credit, making small charges that you can afford to pay off each month, and diligently paying your bills each and every month.”
But you can and should dispute errors on your report.
When it comes to errors on your credit report, you don’t have to just put up with them.
“If you suspect that an item is being reported incorrectly to the credit bureaus the FCRA also gives you the right to dispute the account,” explained Michelle Black credit expert and president at www.HOPE4USA.com. “If a credit bureau investigates and the accuracy of the account cannot be verified then the FCRA requires that it be deleted from your credit reports.”
As for how long it’ll take a dispute resolved in your favor to apply, here’s what attorney Jason M. Kaplan, president of The Credit Pros had to say: “Depending on the reason for challenging an item’s validity on the credit file, deletions can take place anywhere for immediately to 90 days time.”
If you find an error on your credit report, just follow the instructions laid out in our post,
How Do You Contest Errors On Your Credit Report?
There isn’t a shortcut to better credit. But if you hang in there and pay your bills on time, better credit will be in your future.
Alvin Foreman (@suncoastlawofc) serves clients throughout the Tampa Bay area. Prior to starting his law practice, he was a Vice President and Trust Officer with Bank of America and an Estate Settlement Officer with The Northern Trust Company. He is a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army, where he proudly served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a paralegal specialist.
Jason M. Kaplan, Esq. is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law and a nationally recognized credit expert. He is sitting board member of the credit service organization trade association named NACSO (National Association of Credit Service Organizations) and is the president of The Credit Pros, a 4-time award winning company by INC 5000 Magazine. The Credit Pros (@thecreditpros) has been in business since 2008, is a legally compliant company licensed and bonded all throughout the United States and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Roslyn Lash (@RosLash) is an Accredited Financial Counselor and the founder of Youth Smart Financial Education Services. She specializes in youth financial education, adult coaching and works virtually with adults helping them navigate through their personal finances i.e. budgeting, debt, and credit repair. Her advice has been featured in national publications such as USA Today, TIME, Huffington Post, NASDAQ, Los Angeles Times, and a host of other media outlets.
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The information contained herein is provided for free and is to be used for educational and informational purposes only. We are not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law and we do not provide "credit repair" services or advice or assistance regarding "rebuilding" or "improving" your credit. Articles provided in connection with this blog are general in nature, provided for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for individualized professional advice. We make no representation that we will improve or attempt to improve your credit record, history, or rating through the use of the resources provided through the OppLoans blog.