bad information on credit report

How Long Bad Information Stays On Your Credit Report

How Long Bad Information Stays On Your Credit Report

Many of us have wondered this before, particularly after we make a mistake or slip in remembering to pay the bills on time. But before we go into the details of how long bad information stays on your credit report, you should be aware of where that “bad information” in your credit report comes from.

This “bad information” is gained from multiple sources. Examples include collection agencies, lenders who have issued your credit, or whatever is included in your public information. All of this information is then reported to the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. These credit reporting agencies put all of this information together and lists it in your credit report. So, credit reporting companies don’t make judgments about the information; they simply reveal what’s being sent to them.

Luckily for you, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) limits how long a credit reporting agency can reveal negative items in your report. The following is a breakdown of what kind of bad information is included in your credit report and how long bad information stays on your credit report.

Public Records

There are 3 types of public records that show up on a credit report: bankruptcies, tax liens, and civil judgments. A tax lien usually results from not paying your taxes. A civil judgment is a debt you owe through the courts because of a lawsuit. Judgments generally stay on your credit file for 7 years. This is 7 years from the date filed, whether paid or not. Paid tax liens generally stay on your credit file for 7 years from the date paid. Unpaid tax liens, however, remain on your credit file indefinitely.

Bankruptcies

A bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which an individual is given relief from paying debts they’re unable to repay. The 2 important forms of bankruptcy are called chapters because they are defined by chapters in bankruptcy law. For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a person repays at least a partial amount of their debts. Under Chapter 7, a person doesn’t pay any of the debts.

Completed Chapter 13 bankruptcies remain on your credit report for 7 years, and 10 years for Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcies. If your Chapter 13 bankruptcy was dismissed, it remains on your credit file for 10 years from the date filed. The 10 years starts from the date of the dismissal. Contrary to a completed case, a dismissed case means you didn’t get an order discharging your debts.

Criminal Records

Most criminal records like information on arrests and indictments can be reported until the expiration of the statute of limitations or before seven years, whichever is longer. But criminal convictions may be reported for an indefinite period. An indictment only establishes whether or not there is enough information to charge a suspect with crime. A conviction has to do with an individual who’s been tried and convicted by a judge or jury.

Credit Accounts

Also called trade lines, lenders report on each account you’ve created with them. One of the important things reported is the type of account (whether it’s a bankcard, auto loan, mortgage, etc.). Other reported information include the date you opened the account, your credit or loan amount, account balance, and your payment history.

Late payments remain on your credit report for about 7 years. Accounts with current statuses such as R1 and I1 that show previously late payment history will remain on the credit file for up to 10 years from the date of last activity. R1 means revolving debt on credit cards and home equity lines where the account holder has never missed a payment. I1 is installment debt such as auto or student loan. Only the late payment history is taken out after 7 years.

Collections

Collections refer to the transfer of late or past-due accounts to a collection agency. Amounts are then fully or partially recovered. Collection accounts stay on your credit file for 7 years. The start date begins from when the account first became past due prior to the account being placed in a collection agency.

Foreclosures

A foreclosure basically means that you lost your house due to not paying your mortgage. It’s actually seen by lenders as being something very negative, second only to bankruptcy. A foreclosure on your credit report will remain there for 7 years.

Inquiries

Inquiries occur when you apply for a loan. You’re essentially authorizing your lender to ask a copy of your credit report. These inquiries list everyone who’s accessed your credit report within the last 2 years. The reports includes voluntary inquiries which are  inquiries due to you asking for credit. And it also includes involuntary requests which happen when a lender orders your report for the purposes of pre-approved credit offers in the mail. Involuntary requests do not affect your credit score but will remain on your credit file for 12 months.

Bullet Point Summary Of How Long Bad Information Stays On Your Credit Report

  • Public records like paid tax liens and civil judgment will remain for 7 years. Unpaid tax liens may remain indefinitely.
  • 7 years for completed Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 10 years for dismissed chapter 13 bankruptcy. 10 years for Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcies.
  • For arrests and indictments, 7 years or if the statute of limitations has expired, whichever is longer. Criminal convictions may be reported indefinitely.
  • Late payment on credit accounts remain for 7 years.
  • Collections stay on for 7 years.
  • Foreclosures stay on for 7 years.
  • Voluntary inquiries stay on for 2 years.

At the end of the day, you should know that the three nationwide credit reporting agencies receive both negative AND positive information. A credit report is obviously not all about negative things in your credit. Items that are also positive or neutral are not only included but may be there indefinitely. Another thing to realize is that the older the negative items, they less of an effect they’ll have on your FICO® score. Further, the type of information channel affects how long bad information stays on your credit report.

Many of us have made financial mistakes in one way or another. Understanding what mistakes you’ve made in the past and how much of an impact it has on your credit will give you a better perspective in rebuilding your credit. If you haven’t checked your credit report recently, why not have a look? Make sure that all your information is correct and accurately shows your personal financial history.

Check out our list of where to get your credit report and credit score for free, to see what’s on your record. If you’d like more information about the credit repair companies that are most effective, you can view our list of the best reputable companies for credit repair.

new years resolutions

How To Improve Your Credit Score In 2017

How To Improve Your Credit Score In 2017

The New Year is a great time to set new goals, and it gives people the fresh start they need to make the changes they desire. At the beginning of each year, around two-thirds of Americans vow to make their lives better by having a New Year’s resolution. Out of those two-thirds, only 8% achieve their goals. Improving credit scores and getting out of debt is among the most popular resolutions each year. With so many people desiring to improve their credit scores, why do most fail? The answer is that most goals fail without having a concrete plan in place. If improving your credit and getting out of debt is one of your resolutions this year, having a roadmap ensures you will improve your credit score in 2017.

A credit report is simply a compilation of information obtained from lenders that an individual has used. The information in a credit report determines your credit worthiness as a borrower. In a nutshell, a credit report is a measuring tool to analyze how a person manages debt and their likelihood of repaying a loan. A credit report also depicts a person’s spending behaviors. Debt to income ratios could indicate if a person is spending more than their ability to pay.

Credit affects many important areas in life. Everything costs more with poor credit scores, which often makes it even harder to improve your credit score. While resolving to improve your credit score may not be the most glamorous New Year’s resolution, it may be one of the most important. The financial freedom and self-discipline that comes from seriously improving your credit score will be an investment you cannot afford not to make. Here are the steps to keep your resolution and improve your credit score this year.

1. Take an honest assessment of your credit

The first step in improving a credit score is to know exactly what needs improvement. In order to make an effective get out of debt plan, take some time to understand your current credit situation. Set aside a day and time that you can truly delve into your finances to create a plan.

A crucial part of improving your credit score is being honest with yourself. One of the most overlooked steps in improving credit is understanding your own behavior with money and debt. Use credit card statements and bank statements to track spending habits. Did an emergency arise that caused you to max out a credit card? Maybe an unexpected car repair, loss of income, medical situation, or natural disaster forced you to use credit cards more than you would have liked. Perhaps impulsive spending led you to high credit card balances. However you ended up with credit card debt, it is wise to learn from it, so you could plan for the future. Having a savings account to handle life’s emergencies can protect your credit score and your wallet.

Credit card debt does not always signify a money issue. It’s often a behavioral issue. Changing behaviors and relationship with money will not just propel you to improve your credit score, it ensure that bad habits will not surface again once your credit goals have been met.

2. Clean up your credit report

According to the FTC, millions of people have errors on their credit reports that can result in a lower score. Carefully check your credit report to ensure all information is being reported accurately. Once a year, you can obtain a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus. If you suspect fraud, inaccurate information, or need to update your personal information, you can contact the credit bureaus individually to find out their dispute process.

To find out where to obtain a free copy of your credit report, check out our blog post on how to get your credit report and credit score for free.

Professional credit repair companies can help you clean up your credit report. However, it’s important to choose the right one, since many credit repair companies are ineffective scams.

3. Understand how credit scores are calculated

Many people have lower credit scores because they do not understand how it is calculated. Depending on your situation, aiming to eliminate all credit card debt may not be possible in one year. Around 30% of your credit score stems from credit card balances. Aim to reduce the debt to income ratio by paying off 20% or more of credit card balances.

Another credit score buster is applying for too much credit in a short period. Apply for credit only if it is absolutely necessary. 10% of a credit score is calculated by the number of hard inquiries. Another 15% of a credit score is determined by the age of the accounts. Having too many new accounts or inquiries could put a significant dent in your score, so avoid opening new lines of credit if possible.

4. Change spending habits

Knowing how to allocate your income will be a beneficial asset during this process. Is there something you can sacrifice to get to your credit goals faster? Maybe skipping your daily latte for a short period or avoiding take out lunches will speed up the process of paying off a credit card or increasing your emergency fund. It is wise to be mindful of how money is spent. Small purchases here or there may seem fine, but they eventually add up quickly. Look for ways to be smarter about money and use the savings to improve your financial health.

5. Be responsible with the credit you already have

To successfully improve your credit score this year, you will have to take care of the credit you already have. Establishing a history of paying bills on time will be viewed favorably and will have positive impacts on your credit score. If paying bills on time has been a struggle in the previous year, commit to paying bills on time this year. It is vital that all payments are made on time, every time. A late or missed payment can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. A person with an excellent score could potentially lose around 90 points because of a missed or late payment.

If you think you will be late with paying your bill, do not wait until the last minute to contact the lender. Contact the creditors right away and set up alternative payment arrangements. Most creditors and banks have automated payment options available to make paying bills on time easier.

6. Adjust expectations and work hard

While “improving credit” and “getting out of debt” are some of the most cited New Year’s resolutions, they are often the ones people break the quickest. Like many resolutions, improving credit scores takes hard work, patience, and a change in behavior. These things normally do not happen overnight. Create a realistic budget and stick to it. This will keep track of bills and spending habits. Wallethub.com suggests breaking credit goals down into smaller goals to maximize your ability to follow through with your plan. For example, setting a deadline to order credit report, increase emergency funds, and create a budget could be mini-goals that pushes you closer to your ultimate goal.

Concluding Thoughts

Everyone could benefit from analyzing their credit reports and spending habits. Surprisingly, the most effective way to improve a credit score is to change your mind set about credit and money. By understanding your previous credit pitfalls, you can work hard at eliminating them. A healthy relationship with money, hard work, and perseverance will eventually translate to excellent credit. This year, resolve to investing in yourself by improving your credit score.

Credit report with credit score

How to Get Your Free Credit Report And Credit Score

How to Get Your Free Credit Report And Credit Score

Your credit score can affect your financial life in many ways. It can change the rate you get on a mortgage, the likelihood of credit card approvals and even the application for your dream job. In addition, reviewing credit reports and credit scores may help you detect signs of identity theft on time.

People sometimes get confused and think that credit reports and credit scores are the same thing. Here is what you need to know about both of these terms:

A credit score is the numerical value calculated from information in your credit file. In other words, it is a “grade” of your creditworthiness. This score changes over time so it can accurately reflect your current financial behavior.

On the other hand, a credit report is a brief picture of your financial reliability: mainly your history of paying debts and other bills. In addition, they include information like number and types of accounts you have, collection actions outstanding debt, your accounts age, among others. It is worth noticing that your credit score is calculated from the information of your credit report.

It is useful for you to have access to both reports. Let’s start first with how to get your free credit report.

How To Obtain Your Free Credit Report

According to federal law, you have the right to ask for a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit report companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Following these easy steps you will get your report online very quickly:

  • Go to annualcreditreport.com.
  • On the home page, click on the red button “Request your free credit reports”
  • Complete the 3 steps highlighted in the page:
  1. Fill out the form (one for each of the 3 reports you would like to get)
  2. Pick the report you would like. Remember you can choose a report from one, two or even the three credit report companies.
  3. Request and review your reports: To do so, you will need to answer some more questions. They are supposed to be hard and you may even require your records to answer them. After getting your reports, it’s advisable to print them so you can check at them later.

If you don’t feel comfortable with the online request, there is always the old-fashioned way: just call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide some basic information about yourself such as your name, address, social security number, and date of birth (in order to verify your identity).

After reviewing your reports, if you see something strange and would like to dispute information, place a fraud alert or if you have a specific question, contact directly the credit agencies via online or by phone:

How To Obtain Your Free Credit Score

Before showing you the ways of obtaining your free credit score, you should remember the pre-conditions you must meet in order to have a FICO credit score (the most used credit scoring system):

  • Have at least one account opened for 6 months or longer
  • Your account has been reported to the credit bureaus within the past 6 months
  • Have no indication of being deceased on a credit report

If you have ticked all the previous “boxes” and are in compliance with all the prerequisites, you can start searching for your credit scores.

Below you can find some free and reliable sources to get your scores:

MyFico

MyFico is the consumer division of FICO, the creators of the score methodology 25 years ago. Although it does not provide your actual credit score for free (it charges $30 per month for the full service), there is a Fico Score estimator on its website. It could be useful to get an easy and quick estimation of your score. All you have to do is answer around 12 multiple choice questions related to your credit history such as:

  • How many cards do you have?
  • How long ago did you get your first loan?
  • In the last 10 years, have you ever experienced bankruptcy, tax lien, foreclosure, repossession or an account in collections?

If you are clear about your credit history, you will be able to answer all of the questions and get your estimated score in less than five minutes. Remember: this is not your actual score, but if you responded the questions accurately then it will provide a decent estimation.

Freecreditscore

As it is part of Experia and it provides both a free credit report and score from this agency only. In addition, it provides 7 days a week support and no credit card information is required. You will only need to provide your personal information. Freecreditscore is definitely an excellent choice if you only want or need the Experia information.

GofreeCredit

There is a 7-day trial option that will provide you with your TransUnion credit score for free. After that, you will be charged $20 per month. You can cancel your membership whenever in those 7 days without any charge.

Freescoreonline

Freescoreonline offers a 7-day free trial membership that gives access to the three bureaus credit scores. After that, you will be charged $40 per month. Again, you can cancel your membership whenever in those 7 days without any charge.

Ask your credit card provider

An increasing number of people are now finding FICO scores on their monthly credit card statements (around 50 million now according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). The Federal government has been encouraging card issuers to offer this service, and there is a new program that allows them to make it at no cost. Most of the biggest banks (Discover, Barclays, Chase, among others) are now providing this service for free and it is expected that most of the major banks will start doing it soon.

Tips

  • There are many ways to get your free credit report and free credit score. We recommend understanding first which source is best suited for you before start requesting the actual scores.
  • Sometimes a combination of two or three websites could be the way to go.
  • It is a good practice to look both at your credit reports and scores for consistency and complete information.
  • If you choose a “free trial membership” then you may want to create a reminder to cancel it before the paid-membership period starts.
  • If you want assistance in increasing your credit score, view the best credit repair companies. It’s important to choose a reputable credit repair company.