Skip Nav
Budget Tips
28 of the Biggest Money Wasters, According to Real People
Budget Tips
The Average Cost of an American Wedding May Surprise You
Job Search
Master These 15 Interview Questions

How Long Will Bad Debt Stay on Your Credit Report?


When you default on payments and the account goes to collections, it's reflected on your credit report for seven years. You might be confused about when this seven-year time period starts. Some people are under the impression that it begins on the date the account became delinquent, some think it's when the debt was reported to the credit bureaus, and others think it starts when the debt has been repaid.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as of Sept. 1, 2011, the reporting period runs seven and a half years (seven years plus 180 days) from the date of delinquency. This section from the FCRA states the seven-year time frame starts 180 days from the first missed payment:

The 7-year period . . . shall begin, with respect to any delinquent account that is placed for collection (internally or by referral to a third party, whichever is earlier), charged to profit and loss, or subjected to any similar action upon the expiration of the 180-day period beginning on the date of the commencement of the delinquency which immediately proceeded the collection activity, charged to profit and loss, or similar action.

Image Source: Shutterstock
Around The Web
Join The Conversation
idanceinmycar idanceinmycar 6 years
Federal student loans aren't part of that 7 year deal? really? That might just make my summer. I really feel like someone (such as myself, who acted stupidly when it came to student loans and had to learn the hard way) should give talks to students getting ready to graduate. When you're still in school I really think, and I was one of them, that that money just goes away, that it's not really 'real' and you aren't accountable. If kids knew what some of us went through, I think they'd have a different perspective, aside from what banks and lenders are telling them.
xMiss-Worldx xMiss-Worldx 6 years
I've never understood credit reports because we don't have them where I live, but I've been trying to figure out a way to help my friend fix her's.. 7.5years is a very long time though!
0danielle0 0danielle0 7 years
Dispute it with the reporting agencies, or contact them and simply ask to have it removed. I had something on my credit that had been there for 6 years. Called each agency, asked for it to be deleted, and it was. :)
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
I wonder how easy it will be to get the date of when I went into delinquency with these companies...
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
What??!! Do tell, I have no idea.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
Ugghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! You mention my former employer!!!!! Did you sue them? You know the were committing fraud with many of their ventures.
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
Are they really? I wonder if you can print AND get it in the mail, probably not... Ya I had an Am Ex, Capital One and Providian. All in default and then I paid them all off in one lump sum to each. (instead of little here and there)
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
Your delinquency started with the first missed payment. So if your payment was due February 10, 2002. Then officially that's day one and it's in the 1-30 bucket til the payment is 31 days past due. the problem comes when you start making new payments after being delinquent. It can confuse the timeline. Your 7.5 years starts from that first February 10 missed payment until 150 months have past. Also the reports you order and receive in the mail from the bureaus seem to be far more accurate and have more info then the one you can print yourself. Not sure why. I'd have to go on LinkedIn and find my old Equifax friends and ask what the deal is.
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
wackdoodle thanks a ton. I haven't run one this year yet since I don't have a printer at my apt and like printing it out. I have one from the past 3 years all Equifax and it doesn't show that number range breakdown. Some show the date of first MAJOR delinquancy, does that count as my start date for the 7.5 years or is it the first general non payment that is starts from? For example, if I had a bill due in Feb for say AmEx and I never paid it would that be the start of delinquancy or would it be like 3 months out when it's considered MAJOR? Hope that makes sense...
lemamike lemamike 7 years
The 1099 is the form saying you are relinquished of debt correct? I read somewhere recently though that when the company writes off your debt it is technically a gain for you because you no longer have to pay that money so the IRS can then collect from you on that 1099. be careful!
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
Oh one last thing - Federal Student Loan debt is exempt from the 7 year business. So I am screwed. ;-P
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
Renee3 - yes both should come off. I hit to say this but give the bureaus about six months to catch up and correct show that these items have been purged. Interesting thing about the big 3 (TRW, Equifax and Transunion) is that they really do not care if the common man's credit report is accurate. Their position is that it is your responsibility to ensure that its right. However, there are three groups of people who the bureaus will always ensure have absolutely accurate credit reports - for fear of negative publicity and legal action. Big celebrities (Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Madonna, Oprah etc - not b-listers or minor players), Media bigwigs (National TV anchors, writers for big magazines and papers, and authors of best sellers-no j/k) and lastly POLITICIANS (state and Federal). The other other people the bureaus make sure have absolutely dead accurate reports are...The Supreme Court Justices. Everyone else's report can be absolutely wrong and the bureaus can be aware of the errors and they will make no effort to correct the errors or advise you of the errors. One female congressman has legislation purposing that the bureaus be required to keep absolutely accurate records for all citizens just like they do for politicians and stars but her bill keeps getting shot down.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
Oh Aimeeb I saw your question and thought Savvy would answer it, here goes... You can contact the original creditor and request to know the exact date of the first delinquency however if it's been a while then they may have purged their records and put them on microfiche. Which they can still get for you though they may put up a fuss. You can also ask them for a copy of the last payment they received from you. They are required by law to keep these microfiche photos of the check or mo and of the envelope it arrived in. So you simply tell them that you question whether the check was even from you - blah, blah, blah and ask that they prove it by pulling a copy of the payment they got and sending it to you. Generally, that was how I proved to customers of mine when we had received their last few payments - I'd send them microfiche images of their last few payments. Another way to the pull your credit report from one of the big 3 bureaus. When you get it there is general a simplified page and the detail page. On the simplified page it may flat out say "last payment report received on this date. On the detail page it shows these headings 1-30, 31-60, 61-90, 91+ those are your delinquent buckets. Basically every time your late between 1-30 days some creditors will notify the bureaus of the delinquency. And the bureaus put a mark in the box for that late bucket. But the creditors of old used to wait until you had crossed into the 31-60 day buckets (I suspect that current lenders are no longer giving this grace period to customers). So here's how we use to determine when an account went delinquent - back tracking the date by the number of hits in each bucket. Stupid thing about creditors is they're redundant and by this I mean you're 31 days late the first time, then the next time the report they report again in the 31-60 bucket, then the next time they report to the bureaus in the 31-60 bucket AND the 61-90 bucket once. Often times creditors will actually list the last date of payment on the report as well. We'd look to see how many hits in the 31-60 day bucket and see how many there were in the next and the next buckets. IF there were 3 hits in the 31-60, 2 hits in the 61-90, and 1 hit in the 91+ bucket then the last payment was made over 120 days before. We add the 1-30 grace period figuring that if you made it to 31 days past due you had to have been 30 days past due first. But the two easiest ways are to get your major bureau report - the whole shebang with detail and then contact the creditor and ask them if they show the actual last date they received a payment. Compare the two for accuracy. Hope that helps. Geez, I hope it makes some sense.
Renees3 Renees3 7 years
GOOD TIMING! I've got 2 things on my credit that the seven years was last month and this month. Hopefully they'll come off soon! Also, those things are on my credit report twice. Once as the original debtor and then also as the collection agency. Will thye Both come off?
ilanac13 ilanac13 7 years
that's a GREAT question. i know that i got into some messiness when i was right out of college and i've been working really hard to right all that stuff, and it's still so frustrating to think that it's still reflected on my credit. at least i know that i have another few months and i'll be in the clear.
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
wackdoodle that is quite the experience, good lord! Since you worked at a creditor before any input on my question above? And I had no clue they are to send you a 1099!!
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
And you know what? When the creditor finally relents and drops the bad debit from your credit reports they are suppose to send you a 1099 or some such notice for the IRS and a notice advising you of the deletion but they do not always do this. I had a number of spoiled credit cards from way back that were fraudulently opened under my name. I tried to have the bureaus remove them nope. There was no regulation or standard on how to deal with credit card fraud when the creditor refuses to accept their error. So I didn't pay one red cent. Having worked for 4 years at a VISA/MC credit card issuer I knew that eventually they would write off the debit and in 7 years the record would be removed. Well then Mr. Bush changed the rules a little stating that creditors no longer get endless shots at ruining your credit. IF they cannot collect in 7 years they completely lose their chance to collect from you at all. Creditors used to be able to reactive a bad debt should you pop up on the radar again - lord knows the credit card company I worked did it all the time. About two years ago, I started receiving these strange notices from the original creditor not the agencies. 1099 and statements of I cannot remember the exact term basically stating that I owed nothing and that they had removed the bad debt from my credit report. About a week later I started receiving credit card solictations again. I've got two more fraud credit cards that should have removed themselves from my report and should have sent IRS info but I've receive nada from those companies. I suspect that they are going to be the lone holdouts on resolving this matter. I've basically shut down my ability to obtain credit cards and CC companies abilities to send me unsolicited offers. And I learned while working at VISA/MC that credit cards truly are no good.
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
Savvy would you most likely have to contact the original creditor to find out when it became delinquent?
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
I agree, now I wonder what fabulous Sugar girl who decided in college to let her bills slide could of written to Savvy about this... Years later I'm hearing my father's voice, "Aimee you can't let those bills just slide..." I also here a "I told you so..." from him too...still paying the price at almost 27 yrs old. Damn it!
ImmaDiva ImmaDiva 7 years
great question ;)
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
Savvy, you're my hero!!! :)
Biggest Waste of Money
Best Websites to Save You Money
Couple Claims Largest Powerball Prize
Best Things in Life That Money Can't Buy
How Much Does Rent Cost in America?
Lottery Horror Stories
Chinese Lottery Winner Dressed as Baymax From Big Hero 6

POPSUGAR, the #1 independent media and technology company for women. Where more than 75 million women go for original, inspirational content that feeds their passions and interests.

From Our Partners
Latest Career & Money
X