Credit Reports 101

GreenPath has answers to some of the frequently asked questions about credit reports. 

 

How long does information appear on my credit report?

The credit bureaus store information from credit grantors and public records, including bankruptcies, judgments and liens. Missed payments and most public record items remain on the credit report for seven years, with the exception of consumer bankruptcies, which can remain for up to 10 years. Active positive information may remain on the report indefinitely. Requests for your credit history remain on the credit report for up to two years.

  • Accounts paid as agreed remain on the file for up to 10 years from the date of last activity.
  • Accounts not paid as agreed remain on the file for 7 years from the date of activity with the exception of bankruptcy and tax liens.
  • A collection account remains on file for 7 years from the date of last activity.
  • “Hard” Inquiries remain on file for 2 years – these are inquiries for the purpose of granting or denying an application for credit.
  • Chapters 7 bankruptcies remain on the file for 10 years from the date filed.
  • Discharged chapter 13 bankruptcies remain on the file for 7 years from the date filed.
  • Paid tax liens remain on the file for 7 years from the date released (paid).
  • Unpaid tax liens remain on the file indefinitely.
  • Judgments remain on the credit file for 7 years from the date file, whether satisfied (paid) or not.

 

What information is included in my credit report?

Your personal credit report contains:

  • Bankruptcy records and state and county court records of tax liens and monetary judgments. This information comes from public records.
  • Specific information about each financial or utility account, such as the date opened, credit limit or loan amount, balance, monthly payment and payment pattern during the past several years. This information comes from companies that do business with you.
  • The names of those who have obtained a copy of your credit report.
  • Your name, current and previous addresses, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth, and current and previous employers. This information comes in part from your credit applications, so its accuracy depends on your filling out the forms clearly, completely and consistently each time you apply for credit.
  • Statements of dispute, which allow both consumers and creditors to report the factual history of an account. Statements of dispute are added after a consumer officially disputes.

The credit reporting agencies maintain individual credit files for each U.S. resident. They do not maintain combined files for spouses. Therefore, your credit report is separate and different from your spouse’s. Joint credit accounts you have with your spouse will appear on both credit reports.

 

What should I do if I find an error in my credit report?

If you find an error, you may dispute it online – go the websites for the main credit reporting agencies. You also can call the telephone number on your credit report for assistance if you feel any information is inaccurate or incomplete.

You’ll need to be specific by including the account number of an item you feel is in error and explain exactly why you feel it is inaccurate. Simply saying an item is wrong does not give enough detail to help resolve the issue. Investigations of disputed items can take up to 30 days or up to 45 days for items disputed on an annual free credit report.