Credit Repair Timeline

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The timeline for successfully repairing your credit can be a long one, depending on what your credit history is. Often, it takes time to re-establish your good credit and to "prove" throught budgeting and managed spending that you are credit worthy again. Some "negative spots" on your credit report take years to be erased - sometimes up to 7 years or more. So fully restoring your credit takes commitment and time.

If you identify inaccuracies on the credit histories provided by the three major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, they are required to investigate and respond to your complaints within 30 days.  If your complaints are verified, your credit score should rebound almost immediately.  Challenges to your complaints will need to be addressed, of course, so each error that is not immediately corrected could push back a correction to your credit score by an additional 30 days.

Similarly, if you are the victim of identity theft and the compromise to your financial information has taken a toll on your credit score, you should see a recovery 30 days after the illegitimate entries have been erased.  However, the repair clock won’t be reset until after you’ve established that the fraud has taken place – which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or more.

On the other hand, if your credit score isn’t suffering due to fraud or error, you know the damage didn’t happen overnight – and the trip back up to restore your good name is always longer than the trip down.  So, although you should be prepared for the long-haul, there are actions you can take right away that can stop your credit score’s freefall, and even allow it to rise again.

For How Long are Negative Entries Reported?
Unfortunately, the items that hurt your credit score the most tend to be the ones that remain on your credit report the longest: bankruptcy, charge-offs, liens.  Other items that can have a slight negative effect – like credit inquiries – don’t last nearly so long.

Here is a list of some credit issues and how long they remain on your credit report:

  • Tax liens:  Paid – 7 years; Unpaid – 15 years.
  • Bankruptcy: 10 years.
  • Charge-Off Accounts: 7 years
  • Closed accounts: 7 years
  • Collection Accounts: 7 years
  • Inquiries: 1 to 2 years

You might be tempted to throw up your hands and cry, “Why bother!”  Ten years...  Seems like your credit is going to be in bad shape for a long time no matter what you do – but the important thing to remember is that any consistent positive action will affect your credit and help rebuild it.  So, if you have a charge-off reported for seven years, but you finally pay it off after two, for five of those years there will be a positive note to counterbalance the negative item.  That, alone, will help improve your credit score. 

If bankruptcy is unavoidable, getting it over with as soon as possible, as least, starts the clock ticking on those ten years now rather than later.  It’s better to have one bankruptcy strike against you with the clock running, than all the negative items that would lead to the bankruptcy stuck on your credit report with no end in sight.

Even the occasional late payment will be recorded in your credit history for 7 years, but the more payments you do make on time, the more positive items your history will contain – enough, hopefully, to counteract those missed payments and allow your credit score to improve month-to-month.

And if you simply refrain from applying for new loans for one or two years, the negative impact of your inquiries will disappear and your credit score will, again, improve. 

Learn More: Tips to Improve and Rebuild Bad Credit


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