How Long Does it Take for a Past Debt to Clear Off of Your Record?

by Steve Lander
Credit problems could haunt you for seven years.

When you've had credit problems in the past, it may seem like they are going stick around forever. Generally, they won't. Most problems disappear for most people after seven years. However, to understand what might happen, you'll have to look into the various types of debts and collections.

Seven-Year Debts

If you get in trouble with a credit card or other loan, it'll stay on your credit report for at least seven years. Late payments stay for seven years, while delinquencies, which happen when your account goes into collections, stay for seven years and 180 days from your original delinquency date. Tax liens also stay for seven years after you pay them off, or forever until you pay them off.

Judgments and Bankruptcies

Judgments generally stay on your report for seven years from the date the creditor files suit. In states where your creditors have more time to sue you, the judgments will remain until that statute of limitations expires. Bear in mind that the timeframe for a judgment is separate from the timeframe for a delinquent date, too. This means that the calendar resets when the creditor files suit. Bankruptcies also stay on your credit report longer -- 7 years from the filing date for successfully discharged Chapter 7 reorganizations or 10 years for Chapter 13 liquidations or unsuccessful Chapter 7 filings.

Student Loans

When you take out student loans, you're subject to different rules depending on the type of loan you take. Federal Family Education Loans are reported for seven years from when you default. Perkins loans, though, are reported forever. In other words, if you don't pay your student loans, you may never escape from them, at least from the perspective of your credit report.

Beyond the Limits

In some cases, the credit bureaus can report credit problems beyond the usual time limits. If you are looking to take out a loan for $150,000 or more or to take out a life insurance policy for $150,000 or more, everything will go on your report. In addition, if an employer checks you out in conjunction with a job that pays $75,000 or more, that employer can also receive a report with everything that the credit bureau has in its files, even if it's older than the seven- or 10-year limit.

About the Author

Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.

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