How Long Do Negative Items Stay on Your Credit Report?

Last Update: September 14, 2023 Credit Report

So you missed a payment, or maybe you have an account in collections, but that does not mean your mistake will haunt you forever. The credit report bureaus that calculate your credit score understand people can make mistakes, whether intended or not. The consequences of your poor borrowing behavior do not have to last forever.

Knowing when each impacting credit action and decisions will drop from your report will help you better understand how to grow your credit score.

Instead of analyzing a few damaging factors, let’s look at everything from A-Z!


Regardless of the type of bankruptcy, it’s generally not something you want on your credit report; if you must file, remember that you can still build your credit afterward.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your report for seven years, while Chapter 10 bankruptcy remains ten years. If you build new credit over time, the good of that will help outweigh the bad.

FICO generally factors in your past two years as a borrower, but going bankrupt will make it harder to establish new credit.

One of the most important things to do is get your debts discharged. Without discharging your debt, you are likely to only qualify for secured credit card offers. This will clear you of any old debt, which means you will no longer have a sky-high utilization rate in the eyes of the credit report bureaus.

After filing bankruptcy, you can also expect to lose as much as 130 to 240 points from your FICO score. Combined with the negative damages caused before filing, post-bankruptcy credit scores often float in the 450 to 550 points range.


The charge-off happens after you fail to make payments for about six months. The specific terms vary by card and provider. Your credit rating will drop slightly every time a missed payment occurs, and then the debt charge-off will create a significant score drop.

If this is your first problem, the initial missed payment could drop your FICO score a lot. By the time the debt charge-off occurs.

Paying off a charge-off will not help much in the short term. But, it is a crucial part of moving on from your plagued credit rating; within about two years, the charge-off will do little to hold back a borrower who otherwise followed good credit behavior.

It’s best to repay your charged-off accounts only after all other debts are covered. It will drop from your report and score after seven years if all else fails. But, since new late payments and new charge-offs can hurt your credit rating more, they should be your priority.

Closed Accounts

You never want to close an active credit account, such as a credit card, because it will decrease your average credit age. It’s better to keep accounts open and leave them somewhat dormant, although it should not be hard to maintain activity on most cards.

A closed account can be seen as a big negative for your credit score. This is because most accounts are closed off for bad reasons. At best, most borrowers are closing accounts as a means to avoid creating debt they cannot afford, which signals a lack of ability to take on new debt.

After an account is closed, the creditor usually does a debt charge-off by selling it to a collection agency. From there, it will stay on your credit report for as long as seven years. If you work out a repayment agreement with the collection’s agency, the negative entry will actually last seven years after it is finally paid off. Thus, agreeing before it gets charged off is crucial.


If your debt gets sent to collections, it will stay on your credit report for seven years or so. This leads to a FICO score loss of more than 200 points. This comes from the accumulated damage caused by missed payments, and your debt is charged off and sent to collections.

If you are willing to pay off 100% of what you owe before a closed account gets sent to a collections agency, the original creditor would be inclined to avoid selling the debt. You can do so on the condition that the negative debt gets removed from your credit report, but make sure to request a written agreement.

Hard Credit Inquiries

A hard inquiry happens when your credit report gets pulled by a lender looking to determine your financing eligibility. While a hard inquiry can drop your score by five points and suppress your rating until the account ages, it is not a long-term drag.

After two years, a hard inquiry will no longer be shown on your credit report. The damage to your credit score will have passed before then. You can usually expect to lose five points per hard inquiry, but this usually reverses within a few months. For FICO scores, the damage cannot last longer than one year post-inquiry.

Having an abundance of hard inquiries will damage your score for longer and to a greater extent. It is not suggested that you make many hard inquiries unless you are in an aggressive credit-building stage. If you have somewhat good credit, try to limit the cards and go for loans, as inquiring about many of them will be less damaging to your score.

It’s important to note that a soft inquiry happens when your credit report gets pulled but does not qualify you for credit. Many see this as harmful to your credit report, but that is not the case.

If you were to request your credit report, that would trigger a soft inquiry to show on your file. The same applies when you get a background check for a new employer or while renting a car, and even when your credit card issuer considers offering you a credit limit increase.

While many hard inquiries can hurt your credit score, there’s no reflecting damage due to having an abundance of soft inquiries on your credit report.


A foreclosure often goes hand-in-hand with filing for bankruptcy, but it can be devastating to your credit score. Late payments on your mortgage can also be a spell for disaster. Similarly, someone with an almost-perfect credit score could lose as much as 110 points after the first late payment. By 90 days late, upwards of 135 points could be shaved from the original score. A complete foreclosure can cause an additional 160 points to drop.

Even when combined with a bankruptcy filing, you should not expect to see your FICO score drop much lower than 500 points for long. The foreclosure will be visible on your report for seven years, and the initial score drop will be between 85 and 160 points.

In the end, you could lose as much as 200 points in a foreclosure situation. Mortgage providers are inclined to prevent these loans from reaching the foreclosed state. As such, they are more willing to delay the foreclosing process in rare circumstances with trusted borrowers.

You usually have three months to get things in order with the bank. After that, your score will have taken a hit, but you have another three months to prevent further damage as the bank’s foreclosure is processed.

Identity Theft

Becoming an identity theft victim will destroy your credit score in a short period, but it should not be a big problem in the long run. Your score will get re-calculated with many variable changes, but you will not be liable for the fraudsters’ negative actions.

The worst damage comes once the identity crime is pulled off, and the identity thief cashes out the profits from the corrupted accounts. Your FICO score could drop by as much as 20 to 40 points really fast, just off the hard inquiries the fraudster makes. Once any accounts are maxed out and subsequently charged off, your credit rating could drop by 150 points or more.

Proving you were the victim of identity theft will erase this damage. But, your credit report will always have the notation in place. Suspected identity theft is managed with a 90-day fraud alert, which is enough time to see if any real fraud occurs. If the borrower is getting targeted, an extended 7-year fraud alert will be placed on the file.

If you become an identity theft victim, the most important thing to remember is that you have to keep building your credit up. This is especially true if your situation leads to the closing of old accounts, which would have resulted in a lowering of your average credit age. This also leads to a drop in your credit score.

Late / Missed Payments

If you are late for a payment, your creditor depends on whether the late payment will get reported. The standard approach is considered 30-days following the day the payment is due, instead of factoring in the billing date.

This means you have from the billing date until the due date, and then another 30 days later, to ensure the credit card issuer receives restitution. This will stop them from having to report the late payment delinquency to the credit bureaus.

If you have a good history with the card provider, you might be able to negotiate a one-time ‘good-faith’ extension to avoid having a blemish posted on your report.

A credit score of 780 could drop to 670 off of a single missed payment. Every month following will drop the score a little more. If the debt gets charged off at the end, it will take a long while before your credit rating recovers. If the late payment were a one-time mistake, two years of good borrowing would erase its damage.

Unpaid Tax Liens

If you have an unpaid tax lien, it is important to get it taken care of as soon as you can. This is one of the very few negatives that can stay on your credit report for a very long time. Typically, the tax debt will be dropped from your report after 15 years. But, a paid tax lien will erase from your report seven years after the date of repayment.

You can lose 100 points or more from your FICO score due to an unpaid tax lien. These points cannot be recovered by simply repaying the debt. However, as FICO factors in your last two years of borrowing history, it will not keep your score down forever. Ideally, you should request a withdrawal from your credit report once you pay off your debts with the IRS.

Interestingly, the IRS introduced the Fresh Start program a few years back, designed to help borrowers with unpaid tax liens. This led to a policy change, allowing some taxpayers to lift the unpaid tax lien from their credit report before fully repaid. This is possible if you meet the IRS’s requirements, including having a repayment agreement for your tax debts of no more than $25,000, with no previous repayment defaults.

Also, other types of public records on your credit report can impact your score. Some examples include the garnishing of your wages and an outstanding civil judgment against you.

Understand How Your Credit Report Works

Your credit report is not a static piece of paper. Many things get posted onto your report, some good and others are bad. The amount of weight these factors have on your credit score can also vary depending on many factors. As there is no mathematical equation, all you can look at is what is considered good versus what’s seen as bad.

Each of the negative examples from our list above should be avoided at all costs. They are all signs of bad borrowing behavior, which is exactly the opposite of what lenders want to see. To make yourself the best borrower in lenders’ eyes, you must not make any mistakes in return. You will have a perfect credit score to reflect on that.



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