Is your credit report less than stellar? Do you avoid checking it altogether because of what you might find? It’s time to face the music and confront the negative items on your report; the good news is, they won’t stay there forever. Let’s take a look at some of the most common negative credit items and how long you can expect them to remain on your record.


There are different types of bankruptcy, and each one remains on your report for a different amount of time. Chapter 13 bankruptcies may be removed from your credit report after 7 years. Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcy can be removed after 10 years.

Tax Liens

Tax liens can stay on your report for different lengths of time depending on the state you live in. If you pay off the lien, it should show up as “paid”. It can be removed entirely after 7 years.


Foreclosures and short sales will stay on your credit report for 7 years.

Lawsuits and Criminal Convictions

Criminal convictions can stay on your record forever, though there are some less serious items you may be able to have expunged. Lawsuits involving debt typically stay on your report for 7 years, though the length of time may vary by state.

Consumer Debt

This includes unpaid debt on credit cards, department store cards and standard bank loans. These items will generally stay on your credit report for 7 years.

Late Payments

One or two payments that are a couple days late probably won’t show up on your report. But if you have a habit of making late payments or pay a bill more than 30 days late, it will show up on your credit report and stay there for 7 years.

Credit Inquiries

There are two types of credit inquiries: hard pulls, which are initiated by you (you apply for a new credit card, you go to buy a car) and soft pulls, which are not initiated by you (a credit card company wants to send you an unsolicited “prequalified” card). Hard pulls remain on your report for 2 years, while soft pulls only remain on it for 1 year. It should be noted that soft pulls do not affect your credit score.

What Can I Do if Something Outdated is on My Report?

The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, Transunion and Equifax. These three bureaus automatically track the filing dates for credit items and pull them off as soon as they are “expired”, so to speak. To verify that this happens on schedule, pull your credit report about a month after the negative item should have been removed. If it’s still showing, you’ll want to file a dispute with the reporting bureau. You can do this by visiting the reporting agency’s website.