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Credit Report – How Long Can Information Be Reported

Accurate positive information can remain on your credit report forever, but commonly is removed after seven years. Accurate negative information can remain on your credit report for only seven years, with a couple of exceptions. A bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for 10 years. A judgment can remain on your credit report for seven years or until the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations on a judgment can be up to 20 years.

Debts can be reported for the time periods mentioned above even if you paid the debt in full before the end of the allowed reporting time period. In other words, simply paying off an account does not remove it from your credit report. After you pay off an account the merchant can continue to report the account but now must indicate it is paid with a zero balance.

If you have accurate negative information on your credit report, there is no legal way to remove it except through time. Be wary of advertisements claiming to be able to "fix" your credit for a fee. These companies are usually scams.

The date on which the seven year reporting period begins depends on whether the creditor first reported the account to a credit reporting agency before or after December 29, 1997.

Reported Prior to 12-29-97

Regular Accounts
Late payments can be reported for seven years from the date the bill was due, not the date of last activity. For example, if a bill was due October 1, 1996 and you did not pay it until December 15, 1996, the seven-year reporting period begins October 1, 1996.

Collection and charge-off accounts
Can be reported for seven years from the date the merchant charged-off the account or placed for collection, which can be months or years after the account was initially due.

Reported After 12-29-97

All Accounts
Late payments, collection accounts and charge-offs can be reported for no more than seven years and six months from the date the debt should have been paid. For example, if a bill had a due date of October 1, 1999 but you never paid it, the reporting period still begins October 1, 1999, the date of the delinquency. If the merchant sent the account to collections on January 1, 2000, the account still can only be reported for seven and a half years from October 1, 1999, not seven years from the date it went to collections, as what would be permitted under the pre-December 29, 1997 law.

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the law that governs the reporting of information on credit reports. With respect to credit reporting agencies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you continue to have concerns regarding your credit report or credit reporting agencies, please contact the FTC at www.ftc.gov or call toll free 1-877-382-4357.