When it comes to achieving and maintaining a strong credit score, there is no shortage of mistakes that can wreak havoc on your progress.
Some mistakes, like being late on a credit card payment, may seem minor when they happen. Others, like facing bankruptcy or having a debt sent to collections, are stressful enough to deal with in the moment and can be even more so when you realize the impact that they’ll have on your score.
One of the first questions you’ll likely have when you see your score drop is how long it’ll stay on your credit report. Whether you’ve made a mistake already or want to learn more about what will happen if you do, it’s important to learn the timeline you’ll be dealing with if a late payment or something more serious does occur. Keep reading to find out how long the most common negative items will stay on your report.
Late or Missed Payment
A late or missed payment is perhaps one of the most common negative items to land on credit reports. There is no shortage of reasons why you might miss a credit card payment. Sometimes it’s because you’re short on funds and opt to pay your rent or keep food on the table rather than paying your credit card bill. Other times, missing a payment is simply an accident, which is easy to do if you aren’t utilizing auto payments or if you’re away on vacation, busy with work, or just distracted when your bill comes due.
Unfortunately, missing a credit card payment, regardless of the reasons, can cause your credit score to drop. And it’s a drop that will stick around on your report for a while.
How many points you’ll lose as a result of a single missed payment depends on several factors, including:
- Your existing credit score and past credit history
- How long ago it was that you missed your credit card payment
- The severity of the missed payment
One late payment could result in a drop of as many as 180 points on your FICO score, or a negative 2.27 percent drop. While you can raise your score to offset the effect with some other smart credit building moves, the late payment will stay on your record for 7 years from the date of the original missed payment.
Bills Sent to Collections
If you miss a credit card payment or other bill payment and fail to pay your bill and any associated late fees, you may find yourself with another negative item on your credit report.
When account holders fail to pay a bill, the credit card company or lender may choose to charge off the account and assign it to a collections agency. This process can take months to occur, and therefore may not affect your credit score right away. However, it will stay on your report for 7 years from the date of your first missed payment. If you’ve paid off your collections account before those 7 years are up, the account and the missed payment will leave your report at the 7-year mark. Otherwise, the collections account will continue to appear on your report even after the original missed payment is removed.
Filing for bankruptcy can feel as though your financial future is at a roadblock. But how many points you’ll see your score drop depends on your pre-bankruptcy score.
Someone with a credit score of 680 would see a loss of 130 to 150 points, while someone with a high score of 780 would see a loss of between 200 and 240 points. However, if you previously had a credit score in the 400s or 500s, your score may actually see a slight boost after filing for bankruptcy.
While it is a myth that one financial misstep, no matter how serious, won’t ruin your score forever, a bankruptcy filing could stick around on your credit score for up to a decade. The type of bankruptcy that you file for will affect how long it stays on your credit report. However, regardless of the type of filing, a bankruptcy will stay on your report for a minimum of 7 years.
How Long Do Mistakes Stay on Your Credit Report?
If you’ve noticed that there’s a common theme in how long negative items stay on your credit report, you’re correct; most negative items stay on your report for 7 years, though a few will stick around for longer than that. Besides the items on this list, repossessions, foreclosures, and short sales will also affect your credit score, and continue to do so for 7 years.
But what happens if a mistake on your credit report causes your score to drop? How long a mistake could affect your score will depend on the mistake, how long it takes to notice it, and what you do to correct it.
Mistakes on credit reports come in a variety of forms. One common mistake is finding accounts that don’t belong to you on your report. Another common mistake is discovering that accounts that should be in forbearances are being reported as current. For instance, many student loans are on hold due to orders as a result of COVID-19 and the CARES Act. But some borrowers are finding that their loans aren’t appearing as such. In one study, 15 percent of those surveyed who had loans that should have been in forbearance found that those were not being reported as “current.”
If these mistakes go unfixed on your report, they’ll affect your score for up to 7 years. The exact time frame depends on the type of mistake. But, if you take measures to get them corrected, they can be scrubbed from your report prior to that. This allows your score to go up again as though the mistake never happened.
Fixing Mistakes on Your Credit Report
Many negative items on your credit report are impossible to fix once they appear. But when it comes to mistakes, the same isn’t true. Regardless of the type of mistake, you should never simply wait for the 7 for that mistake to go away.
Catching and correcting mistakes on your credit report can be confusing if you aren’t sure what to look for. Luckily, our Credit Ninja credit management service can help. One in every 4 consumers found mistakes on their credit reports that could be affecting their score. Getting these mistakes reversed will help ensure that nothing is standing in the way of you improving your score. If you’re ready to start improving your credit score, get started with us today!