If you have filed for bankruptcy or have made a late payment on a credit card bill, that information appears in your credit report as negative information. Even unfortunate situations like identity theft can appear as negative information, which affects your ability to get more credit and can hurt your credit score.
The good news: There are limits to how long negative information will stay on your credit report. Most negative information will be removed within seven years, and bankruptcies are required to be removed from your report in 10 years.
While this information may haunt you for close to a decade, know that the longer it sits on your traditional credit report, the less impact it has on your credit score. Older negative information has less of an impact than more recent information, both positive and negative.
More good news: Positive information stays on your credit report forever. If you pay your bills on time, you will bolster your overall report.
There may be inaccurate information on your credit report, so you should frequently check your file at all three nationwide credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) for inaccuracies.
You have the right to access each of these three reports once a year for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com. If you find any inaccuracies when reviewing your report, contact the credit reporting agencies or your creditors to dispute them.
Here is a short list of the major dings to your credit report and how long they stay there:
Late payments: Seven years
Foreclosures: Seven years
Collections: Generally seven years, depending on the age of the debt being collected
Public Record: Generally seven years, although unpaid tax liens can remain indefinitely