Credit Bureaus - The Truth about Credit Reporting

By: Justin Hutto

Many people want to know how long a negative notation will stay on their credit report. The answer to this is seven long years. If you have a bankruptcy or judgment the notation can stay on your report for up to ten years.

The majority of people fell like they have just been handed a long prison sentence. During this time they are afraid to move into a home or upgrade to a nicer car because they do not want to be charged outrageous interest rates.

Why seven years?

Should a single slip-up deserve a seven year punishment? Should you have to live with a bad credit report for being out of work for a few months, even when we caught up on our bills soon after?

Is there something magical or statistically relevant about seven years that will make somebody all of a sudden credit worthy again? Did financial experts perform complicated tests and discover that a person needs seven years for credit rehabilitation?

Of course not, there is no good reason whatsoever for the seven year reporting law.

It is a completely arbitrary time limit.

Before Congress enacted the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 1970 the credit bureaus were not limited whatsoever in how long they could report negative credit information. In fact, they could keep bad credit on your record forever!

Finally, Congress placed a time limit on the bureaus. Please do not be confused that seven years is how long an item must remain on your credit. Seven years is the reporting maximum.

Congress made it illegal for credit bureaus to report a bad credit mark for longer than seven years. Frequently people have successfully had a negative mark removed long before the seven year time limit.

Credit reporting is entirely voluntary. A creditor is not required to report an item for any length of time at all. In fact, creditors and collection agencies often remove credit report marks long before the seven year clock expires.

Typically the creditors and collection agencies just need some influence to remove a mark. This influence should come from a well crafted dispute letter or a good credit repair attorney. The credit bureaus will also give you some credit repair once the seven year time limit runs out.

In a perfect world there would be no arbitrary reporting limit. Instead, marks would remain as long as they bore the true characteristics of the applicant. Credit information would provide accurate indications of our credit worthiness and not just give the banker an excuse to jack up interest rates so they can earn a bigger profit.

The point is since we don't live in that world, why should we wait to repair our credit? Why shouldn't we take steps today to erase questionable and misleading information from our credit report? This way we don't have to pay the high cost of bad credit longer than we have to?

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