How Long Will Negative Items Destroy Your Credit Report?

If you are like the majority of people, you don't have a 100 percent perfect credit score. In fact, you may even have some unfavorable items on your report that are causing you to have problems getting the things that you need and desire. Perhaps you're curious about how long such items will stay on your report. The following is a list of some of the most common credit report issues and an estimation of the time that you may have to struggle with them.

Hard and Soft Inquiry Credit Report Life

Inquiry is a nice term that means the same thing as a credit report pull. Every time someone accesses your credit report for any reason, that person conducts an inquiry. Examples of times when your credit report gets pulled are for credit card applications, jobs, apartment rentals, financial products and the like. Inquiries are some of the most overlooked causes of credit report damage that exist. They can drag your credit score down slowly if you accumulate them unwisely. Many consumers don't realize that they can lose as much as one point from their score when they make such inquiries, but it's true. Additionally, racking up too many inquiries can cause creditors to view you as either desperate or troubled.

Two types of inquiries exist: Hard and soft inquiries. Soft ones do not harm your credit profile. An example of a soft inquiry is when you pull your own credit report during your monthly or annual check. Hard inquiries are the ones that you make for mortgages, auto loans and the like. These inquiries can drop your credit score, and they stay on your credit report for two years. They are supposed to automatically drop from your report after two years, but you should be proactive and check to make sure that they did.

Negative General Collection Items

Credit card bills, utility bills, medical bills and similar items may fall under the category of general collections when you fall behind in paying them. Generally, these items are supposed to fall off of your credit report after seven years. The concept of forgiving debt after seven years is an old biblical concept. In many areas, it still stands, but of course, some companies and collection agencies try to get around it by selling, reselling, resuscitating and resurrecting old bills in any way that they can. They've gotten quite creative over the years. That's why it's always best to try not to let a bill end up on your report. Unfortunately, you can't count on biblical principles being followed. You can only count on yourself and how you manage your bills.

Civil Judgments and Tax Liens

Civil judgments and tax liens fall under another bracket of debts. They can occur when you fail to pay your regular debts, and they can also occur when you have overdue taxes that get out of hand. Many civil judgments come off of your credit report after seven years, but tax liens can stick to your report like glue for as many as 15 years if they are unpaid and seven years after you pay them. It's always best to work out tax obligations.

Home Foreclosures

If you allow your home to be foreclosed on, you can expect to have it stay on your credit report for up to seven years. If you are in a situation in which you think you may get foreclosed on, then you may want to try an alternative option to avoid having that negative information fall on your report. One thing you can do is ask for a loan modification, deferment or forbearance. You could request approval for a short sale if your situation has gone beyond the other suggested methods. A short sale may stay on your report for seven years as well, but it may not be as brutal as a full-blown foreclosure.

Vehicle Repossessions

Vehicle repossessions are another form of debt that may stay on your credit report for seven long years. You do have the option to perform a voluntary surrender if you feel as though your vehicle will be repossessed. You should only do this if you have gotten past the "right to cure" period and are seriously in danger of a repo. You can offer the financial company the vehicle and see if they will take it back and reduce your debt somewhat. The lender chooses to accept or decline that offer on its discretion. A voluntary surrender may not end up on your credit report if you work out a good arrangement with the lender.


Bankruptcies can stay on your report for up to 10 years. That's why they should be a last resort to other options such as debt settlement, debt management programs and the like. A chapter 13 will come off of your report sooner than a chapter 7 just for the simple fact that you do pay some of the debt off in that chapter 13. Debt management programs and other programs usually only last six years, and you see your credit score rise significantly as you make payments.

Avoiding Negative Reporting

Keeping contact with the creditors is the very best way to avoid negative reporting. Many providers will work with someone who is honest about the situation and doesn't just try to avoid the problem. Many times, companies have special programs that their customers can get on if they are having a hard time. Always be willing to explain and to offer something as a good faith offering.

Now you know of the most common items that can drag your credit report down and linger for many years. If you are currently having an issue with your credit report, you can hire a specialist to help you fight inaccuracies, expired accounts and things like that. Just reach out and you can most likely salvage your report.