The question of how long something stays on your credit report is a common one. It’s also one that is riddled with confusion. You see and hear advertisements claiming these companies can wipe negative items off your credit report all the time. But it sounds too good to be true. Here I’m going to try and dispel some of the myths of credit reporting and its affect on your credit score.
Regardless of what any company tells you, items will stay on your credit report for 7 years, whether a debt is paid off or not. Bankruptcies will stay on for 10 years. Let me repeat that again. Debts, those outstanding and paid off, will remain on your credit report for 7 years. Now obviously it’s much better if you pay them off, since your score will improve. But they will still be visible on your report.
Something else to note is that if you have a 6 year old debt and then pay a portion of it (no matter how small the amount), the 7 year clock starts all over again. Collection agencies know this and will often times attempt to convince you to pay even a small amount of that old debt. Once the debt is gone from your report they have zero leverage against you to get you to pay.
The only thing that can be wiped off your report are mistakes. These can be removed through writing a dispute letter to the credit bureaus letting them know of the ereror. You’ll also need to be able to provide them with proof.
With a combination of removing mistakes, paying off your debts and waiting until items drop off, you’ll see increases in your credit score.