Credit Blog


How long can a negative item stay on my credit report?

Posted by Brett D. Sherman | Jun 09, 2021

The Seven-Year Obsolescence Rule is the Default Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

With the exception of five specific types of information described below, no negative item (most commonly late payments) can remain on a credit report for more than seven years from the date the account first became negative (i.e., the date of first delinquency). 

Importantly, it is the date that the account first became negative (the date you first missed a payment) and not the first date that a credit bureau - such as Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis) receives information -- that matters.  In other words, if you missed a credit card payment in January 2021, that missed payment (in most cases) cannot be reported by a credit bureau after December 2028 regardless of the date the credit bureau first learns of the delinquency. 

Exceptions to the Seven-Year Limit that Negative Information May remain on Your Credit Reports Pursuant to the FCRA

There are five items specifically excluded from the seven-year obsolescence rule:

  • Charged-off accounts (i.e., accounts that a creditor charges off as bad debt on its profit and loss statement):  The rule for charged-off accounts -- which generally includes repossessions -- is seven years from the date the account first became delinquent plus an additional 180 days
  • Lawsuits and judgments against you in your personal capacity (i.e., not a lawsuit or judgment against your business for which you are not personally responsible):  Lawsuits, such as collection suits, may be reported for seven years from the date the lawsuit is commenced. Judgments against you may be reported for seven years from the date of the judgment itself
  • Paid/terminated tax liens:  Records of paid tax liens can be reported for seven years following the date that the tax lien is paid or the lien is otherwise terminated
  • Bankruptcy: Bankruptcies may lawfully remain on your credit report or other consumer reports for ten years. The ten-year period for bankruptcies begins on the date a bankruptcy order is entered.
  • Criminal conviction records: There is no time limit for reporting accurate records of criminal convictions.  Most credit reports do not include criminal conviction information.  However, background check reports, which are consumer reports and are therefore governed by the FCRA, do include records of criminal convictions.

About the Author

Brett D. Sherman

In 2020, 2021, and  2022, Brett was selected by Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers as a "Top-Rated Consumer Law Attorney in New York, NY."

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