How long can information things appear on my credit report? Will paying off a debt remove it from my report?
The time that information will show up on your credit report can vary. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) specifies how long specific types of information can be included in a credit report. Most information about most types of delinquencies information can show up on credit reports for seven years. Bankruptcies generally can be reported for ten years. Some things can be reported forever. And for some purposes, anything can be reported permanently. A paid tax lien on real estate can be reported for seven years from the date of payment.
Paying a delinquent debt, or a judgment doesn't remove it from your credit report. It can stay there for that seven years from when the delinquency began, or from the date of the judgment.
FCRA also allows credit bureaus to choose to include information even past the time limits when the credit report is going to be used for specific purposes. For example, when the report information is being used to determine eligibility for loans or life insurance policies for at least $150,000, or for a job with a salary of at least $75,000 a year, there’s no time limit on any information. But there is no requirement for the credit bureaus to keep providing such information past the deadline; the law simply allows them to if they choose. Everything can be reported forever.
Paying off a delinquent debt, or a judgment doesn't mean it will disappear remove it from your credit report. It still can remain there for the timeframe allowed by FCRA.
Note: As of July 1, 2017, the "Big 3" credit bureaus - Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion - do not report tax lien and civil judgment information, unless it has your Social Security Number or birth date. Most judgments don't have this information. So these things may or may not appear on your credit report after that date, even if they previously did.
As of September 1, 2017, medical debt is not reported until six months have passed from the payment due date. This change gives you time to work with your insurance company to resolve any disputes before they can affect your credit record. If the insurance company pays the debt later, it won't appear on your credit report either. These changes should help decrease errors that affect your credit report.
This answer was based on a Q&A by John Roska, an attorney/writer whose weekly newspaper column, "The Law Q&A," ran in the Champaign News-Gazette.
Updated: August 2017