Written by: Kristy Welsh
Credit repair information and credit repair misinformation is available on the Internet and even more bad advice can be had when listening to friends and family. One person says to do this and then another says to do that, when in actuality, you really have to look at your own situation and determine what credit repair tactics will work for you.
There may be some financial moves you have made, or are going to make, that at first glance may seem harmless but in the long run can really do a number on your credit. You might not realize the significant fall-out to the following seemingly insignificant financial moves until it is too late. This article is meant to set the record straight and try to steer you in the right direction when is comes to repairing your credit. Here we touch on five of the most common mistakes people make when fixing their credit which leads to lowering their credit score.
Keeping a Zero Balance
I know we beat it into your head that you should be paying off your debts, but, paying off a credit card completely every month does not help your credit score - it doesn't hurt it either. When you pay off your card and have a zero balance on this line of credit, it does not factor into your credit utilization ratio. This ratio is the percentage of your credit limit that is being used and factors into 30 percent of your credit score. Here is how to calculate your credit utilization ratio:
Locate your credit balance and credit limit on your last billing statement.
Divide the credit card balance by the credit card limit.
Multiply that number by 100. The lower this number, the better.
Leaving a small balance on your card each month will help to increase your credit score. Oddly, your credit score can actually drop when you bring a card balance down to zero. Go figure!
Keeping a High Balance
Now on the other side of the spectrum, having high balances on your credit cards is not good for your score either. As we mentioned already, the amount you owe on your accounts determines about 30 percent of your credit score. Lenders consider those who use a low percentage of their credit, say around 35 percent or less, to be a low credit risk. And being a low credit risk means getting lower interest rates on your loans.
Spending 80 to 90 percent of your available credit limit will negatively affect your credit score. As we saw in the calculations above, having a high credit card balance will equate to having a higher credit utilization ratio which will lower your credit score. Moral of the story, keep you balances low but not at zero.
Negotiate a Lower Annual Percentage Rate
Negotiating a lower annual percentage rate on your credit card may seem like a smart move for cutting expenses and boosting your savings account, but when you do, ensure that your creditor doesn't reduce your credit limit. If that happens, it could affect your credit utilization ratio and lead to a drop in points.
Closing a Credit Card Account
If you've scrimped and struggled to pay off a card, your initial reaction may be to cut up the plastic and close the account. Resist the urge. Various factors are taken into account when calculating your creditworthiness, and 15 percent of your score is determined by the length of your credit history. By closing an account, especially an older one, you shorten your credit history. The more established accounts you have, the higher your credit score.
Credit card companies also look at how much of your available credit you are using, i.e. your credit utilization rate. As we mentioned before, they like to see 35 percent or less of your credit in use at any one time. Paying off a credit card and leaving it open improves your utilization score, but closing it could do just the opposite.
Applying for New Credit
We are not saying to never apply for new credit, just make sure to do so very gingerly. Every time you apply for a new credit card, car loan, or cell phone plan, someone is going to pull your credit. This credit inquiry constitutes a "hard inquiry" which is likely to ding your credit score.
So, if you are looking for a good interest rate, which means you are rate shopping, make sure every lender you visit is not pulling your credit first. Make your final decision BEFORE having your credit pulled by the lender so that way there will only be one hard inquiry on your credit report.
It may seem like maintaining a good credit score is hopeless, but there are ideals you can strive for to achieve a good credit rating. Naturally, some of the above mentioned transactions are easier to avoid than others. By knowing the threat they pose to your credit, you can better understand when these moves really make sense. To sum it up:
Keeping these five common mistakes in mind while you are repairing your credit, will save you lots of anguish down the road. There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you are doing the right things when in actuality, it is hurting your credit score.
Aaron Crowe - https://bettercreditblog.org
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make all the difference.
A small ding to your credit score can drop it just enough from being in the excellent credit score range to the good score range. That can be enough to cause lenders to charge you higher interest rates, costing you money that you might otherwise save without the small nick on your credit score.
Inquiries, or new credit, account for about 10 percent of a FICO credit score. While that isn’t much when compared to payment history accounting for 35 percent of a FICO score, a credit score drop of up to 10 percent for having too many lenders look at your credit score can be enough to cost you real money in the long run.
There are two types of inquiries — hard and soft — and the first will hurt a credit score and the latter won’t. Knowing the difference can help you know when to act so that an inquiry doesn’t hurt your score, or when you don’t have to worry about it.
Hard inquiry defined
An example of a hard hard inquiry is when you apply for a credit card and the issuer “pulls” your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus.
The hard inquiry may lower your score up to five points, depending on the rest of your credit profile. Going months between credit inquiries can have less of an impact than having a bunch at the same time.
Applying for a mortgage is another hard inquiry. The FICO score allows mortgage rate shopping, so applying with four different mortgage lenders in 45 days is counted as only one hard inquiry.
Hard inquires stay on a credit report for two years, but the FICO score ignores them after 12 months. Whatever your credit score, potential lenders will look at you as risky if you have too many inquiries over a short period. For people with a short credit history, this can be especially troublesome.
What’s a soft inquiry?
Soft inquiries come in many forms, and none should hurt a credit score.
Checking your own credit report is a soft inquiry. It doesn’t lower your credit score, as some people think it does, and in fact is a good thing to do to make sure your score is good and the information on your credit report is accurate. Consumers can check their credit reports for free once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus.
Creditors you already work with may do soft inquiries by checking your credit report to see if you’re still creditworthy. Credit card companies do this monthly.
If you get preapproved credit card offers in the mail, those are soft inquiries that don’t affect your score.
If you’ve given a potential employer permission to view your credit report as part of a background check, it’s also a soft inquiry that doesn’t affect a credit score.
What you can do
If you want to avoid a hard credit inquiry that could cause your credit score to drop, the simple solution is to not apply for new credit. But that isn’t always practical, such as if you want to find a better credit card or want to buy a home or car.
There are some money management steps you can take, however.
Start by not applying for credit cards that you know you won’t qualify for. Knowing where your score is on the credit score range can help you decide if applying for a card with some of the best travel rewards, for example, is worthwhile since many such cards require having excellent credit. Applying for a credit card that you probably won’t be approved for results in a hard inquiry and a rejection, which can also hurt your score.
Some credit card issuers target people with bad credit. If that’s you, be sure to read the fine print and make sure it’s a card you can live with. It may not have all of the features you want, but over time and by paying the bill on time, you can improve your credit score and move up to a better credit card.
These issuers may advertise that they won’t run a hard credit check and will base their decision on other factors, such as your income and employment history.
If you have good or excellent credit, a hard inquiry shouldn’t have much of an impact, if any, on your credit score. Keep your score high by paying your bills on time, don’t use more than 30 percent of the credit available to you, and have a good mix of credit.
When checking your credit score, look for errors and dispute them with the credit bureaus. Your vigilance should pay off with a better credit score and eventually should get you better credit terms. With that, a hard credit inquiry won’t hurt so much, if at all.
Your credit report is a snapshot of your payment history for all credit transactions that you have from age 18 until now. It details when you applied for credit, how many positive and negative accounts you have, who viewed your credit report, and all your personal information. Reviewing your credit report every four to six months gives you a chance to check for identity theft, inaccurate accounts, and incorrect information. It allows you to manage your financial situation before applying for a credit card, auto loan, bank loan, mortgage loan, employment, or insurance. For example, if you check your credit and notice that there are a few negative items on your report, you will have a chance to fix those items before applying for credit. By doing this, you avoid embarrassment and several inquiries, which lowers your credit score.
Mixed credit reports are caused when the credit bureau places information belonging to another consumer on your credit report.
The reason mixed files are so hard to correct is because the lender typically is not sending in incorrect information. The problem is being caused by the credit bureau inadvertently commingling data belonging to two consumers and placing it on one credit report.
Credit reporting agencies are under no obligation to proactively investigate the information on your credit reports to determine if it’s yours or if it belongs to another person with the same name.
It's you’re responsible for pulling your own credit reports, reviewing the information and then filing a formal dispute with the credit bureaus if you find data that you believe is incorrect or belongs to someone else.
Additional reasons for incorrect data in credit files include:
>You have a common name
>The person applied for credit under different versions of their name (Robert Jones, Bob Jones, etc.)
>Clerical error in reading or entering name or address information from a hand-written application
>The person gave an inaccurate Social Security number, or the number was misread by the lender
>Sr.'s and Jr.'s living within the same household get account information crossed
>Loan or credit card payments were inadvertently applied to the wrong account
Did you know that March is National Credit Education Month? As a business owner, your business and personal credit scores may affect various aspects of your business.
Aside from the fact that you should avoid racking up debt, if you ever want to apply for alternative financing, the lender will likely need to know your credit score. Understandably, many business owners get stressed out when it comes to maintaining or improving their credit scores.
1. Understand the difference between your business and personal credit score – Many people don’t realize that business and personal credit scores are not the same. To start, business credit scores are generated by companies like Dun and Bradstreet and Equifax. In most cases, you’ll need to pay to get a copy of your business credit report, while your personal credit report can be accessed for free through various websites. Another difference is that the scale for business and personal credit scores are different – while personal scores can range from 300 to 850, business credit scores usually range from 0 to 100.
2. Check your score frequently – Even if you think your credit scores are sufficient, things change. There could be an error on your personal or business credit report in the future, or your score could fluctuate depending on whether or not you make payments on-time, among other factors. Make it a consistent initiative to monitor your scores, so that you are never in the dark!
3. See how you measure up – While every business is different, it is important to know how your credit scores fare in terms of other businesses. If your score is below the national average, then it is imperative that you work to raise it. For instance, according to Value Penguin, the national average personal credit score in the U. S. is 695. By knowing the average scores, you can set goals for your business to meet.
4. Focus on meeting payment deadlines – If you’re serious about boosting your personal credit score, a good place to start is to ensure that you’re paying your bills early or on-time. If paying bills late is one of your bad habits, set up payment reminders through your banking portals, so that you’re notified before a payment is due. By making payments on-time moving forward, you’ll likely see your personal credit score increase. Same goes for your business credit score – pay outstanding balances on your business accounts on-time, too!
5. Reduce debt – It’s easier said than done, but paying off an outstanding balance can be a great way to improve your credit score. Even if it is reducing it by small amounts, it is important to make an effort to pay off debt. Once eliminated, make it a priority to stay debt-free. Your future self, and your credit scores, will thank you!
CREDIT EDUCATION MONTH: DEALING WITH A BAD CREDIT REPORT
Think of your credit report as a reflection of your financial character that impacts almost all the major & minor financial decisions you make. Therefore, reviewing your credit report may confirm your fears if you have made some credit mistakes in the past. As part of Credit Education Month, here are some steps that you can take to make the situation better and repair your credit report.
Steps to Repair Your Credit Report for Credit Education Month
Correct any Errors on Your Report
It’s common to find that there is incorrect information in your credit report. You have the legal right to dispute and correct this information, and you should. You can send a written dispute to each credit reporting agency that has reported inaccurate information. By law, they must investigate the entry, correct any mistakes, and respond to you within 30 days. Afterward, you should obtain another copy of your credit report to confirm the corrections. Then, you should also send the results of the investigation to the other credit reporting agencies.
Written by Elizabeth Aldrich
If you mess up financially, or even make a tiny mistake, you can usually bet it will lower your credit score. However, if you’re doing everything you should and being financially responsible, that doesn’t always mean your credit score will increase.
It’s unfair, but building credit usually requires some knowledge of how credit scores are calculated and active and intentional financial decisions based on that knowledge. For example, being so responsible with your money that you don’t need a credit card won’t help your credit at all, but taking out a credit card you don’t need, using it for regular purchases, and paying it off each month will.
This is especially true for renters. Missing a rent payment, getting sent to collections, or getting evicted will almost certainly affect your credit. However, paying your rent on time likely won’t. That’s because your rent payments aren’t automatically reported to the major credit bureaus.
What is rent reporting?
Rent reporting is when your rental manager or a third party service reports your rent payments to credit bureaus for you. This third party service can be a rent reporting service that charges a monthly fee, or it can be a portal through which you pay your rent that offers rent reporting and may or may not charge a fee. Examples include Rent Reporters and Credit my Rent.
If you have rent reporting, it means that the credit bureaus being reported to are tracking your on-time payments and taking them into consideration when they calculate your credit score. So, as long as you never pay late, rent reporting will increase your credit score.
Why you should sign up for rent reporting
Rent reporting is a great, easy way to build your credit score by simply paying your rent on time. While there are loans and credit cards specifically designed to help you build credit, it doesn’t hurt to add on-time rental payments into the mix as well.
This is a great option for people who don’t plan on buying a home anytime soon. It allows their rent payments to still have a positive impact on their credit profile. It’s also a way to build a little credit for people who don’t have any, although taking out a credit building loan or secured credit card will still be necessary to build a substantial amount of credit.
Another benefit of rent reporting is having an official record of your on-time rent payments. If you ever plan to rent again, this can be very beneficial. Landlords almost always want to see a good rental history, and relying on references from old landlords isn’t always the most credible way to vouch for a new renter. This is especially true if you have no or low credit and are having trouble finding a place that will rent to you — showing them a record of on-time rental payments will help convince them.
The drawbacks of rent reporting
There are no real drawbacks to rent reporting in terms of your credit score. Of course, if you miss a payment, it will impact your credit negatively. But late payments can be reported to the credit bureaus even if you aren’t registered for rent reporting.
The only real drawback to rent reporting is that is often costs money. There is a chance that your landlord is already signed up for rent reporting, so be sure to ask if they are before looking into services on your own.
If your rental management doesn’t already report your rent payments, you’ll have to look into third party services on your own. These often have a setup fee and then a monthly fee associated with them. Setup can range from a few dollars to $100, and monthly fees can range from nothing to around $10.
If you decide that rent reporting is right for you and find a service that you like, it’s worth talking to your landlord and seeing if they’ll include rent reporting in your rent. They may decide to offer it as an added bonus to their future renters.
How to sign up for rent reporting
Again, the first step is to ask your landlord if they’re already signed up for rent reporting. Your on-time rent payments could already be boosting your credit score without you even knowing it.
If you’re not signed up for rent reporting, it’s time to shop around. The most important thing to know is that every rent reporting service reports to different credit bureaus. Some may only report to smaller credit bureaus, while others may report to one of the major credit bureaus, and others still may report to all three major credit bureaus.
The problem with a rent reporting service that only reports to certain credit bureaus is that they may not be reporting to credit bureaus that your future lenders use. You have many different credit scores, and when you apply for a credit card, mortgage, or loan, the bank will typically look at one of those scores from one of those bureaus – whichever bureau they typically pull from. If your rent reporting service is reporting to credit bureau A, but all your future lenders pull your credit report from credit bureaus B and C, then the rent reporting service you paid for was essentially useless.
The three major credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Ideally, you’ll want to find a rent reporting service that reports to all three. You should calculate the total annual cost, include setup and monthly fees, and find the most inexpensive option that reports to major credit bureaus. Be sure to ask the service what happens in the case of a dispute with your landlord.
Other perks to look for are things like free access to credit scores and recommendations for specific lenders and credit cards that pull credit reports from the credit bureaus that your service reports to.
by Gerri Detweiler
From student loans to a house mortgage, debt accumulation is stressful and overwhelming. As you make moves to get out of debt, you might want to consider consolidating credit cards or other loans to save you time and money. But that begs the question—does debt consolidation help or hurt your credit?
The answer depends on how you consolidate and what you do with your debt afterward.
1. Debt Consolidation Loans
Getting a new loan to pay off other debts is the most popular way to consolidate. It’s certainly what most people think of when they consider consolidation. But finding a loan that has decent terms and is designed specifically for the purpose of consolidation can be challenging—especially if your credit scores are a bit lower due to the balances you’re carrying.
It’s certainly not impossible, though. Look for reputable debt consolidation companiesthat will work for your specific situation.
Tip: Triple check lenders’ certifications to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate site if you’re shopping for a loan online. Scams abound.
Effect on Your Credit:
Consolidating credit cards with high balances using an installment loan (i.e. a loan with fixed monthly payments) may actually benefit your credit rating, especially if you use the loan to pay off credit cards that are near their limits. At the same time, any new loan can cause a short-term dip in your credit scores—so don’t be too surprised if you see your credit score change slightly when taking out a new loan.
2. Debt Management Plans
Debt management plans are often confused with debt consolidation—however, they’re very different programs. Debt management plans (DMPs) are offered through credit counseling agencies and, much to many people’s surprise, they don’t actually consolidate your debt.
Instead, you make a “consolidated” payment to the counseling agency, which then pays each of your creditors—usually at a reduced interest rate. Even though you’re making only one or two monthly payments, the counseling agency doesn’t actually pay off your creditors for you—it simply acts as a middle man to help you repay your debts and ensure that the creditors get the money they’re owed. These programs are available regardless of credit scores, so if you are having trouble consolidating, a DMP might be worth considering.
Tip: If you choose to move forward with a DMP, you should close or suspend your credit card accounts. Unfortunately, you’re not permitted to use credit cards while enrolled in a DMP.
Effect on Your Credit: If you have a good credit score and adhered to a creditor’s repayment terms in the past, a DMP could have a negative impact on your credit as it indicates that you are experiencing or have experienced difficulty with payments. Also, since a DMP directly impacts payment terms, credit reporting agencies might ping your DMP commitment because it designates a change in payment policies.
3. The Credit Card Shuffle
Transferring a high-rate credit card balance to a card with a lower rate is another way to consolidate. Carrie Rocha, author of Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, and her husband paid off some $60,000 in debt, and taking advantage of low-rate balance transfers was one of the strategies they used to dig out. However, if you decide to go this route, you must be very disciplined in your approach. Otherwise, you may fall into traps such as getting stuck with a balance at a high interest rate after the introductory period ends.
Tip: Read the fine print. Keep your eyes peeled for any “but” or “until.”
Effect on Your Credit: It depends on how you use a transfer. You’ll often see a temporary dip in your credit score when opening any new card. If you use a substantial portion of the available credit (on the card) to consolidate balances from other cards with lower balance-to-available-credit ratios, your credit scores may drop from that as well. Finally, you may also lose points if you open a new card and use a majority of the credit line to consolidate.
However, if a 0% card allows you to save money and pay off your debt faster, you can come out ahead in the long run, both financially and credit score–wise.
The End Goal: Less Debt Equals Stronger CreditPaying down debt can have a tremendous impact on your credit scores. According to FICO, the company behind most of the credit scores used by lenders, consumers with high credit scores (e.g. 785 and above), tend to keep their balances low. Specifically, two-thirds of consumers with good credit carry less than $8,500 in non-mortgage debt, and they use an average of 7% of their available credit on their credit cards.
That means that paying off debt—whether you use a consolidation loan or just put every penny you can toward your debt—will often improve your credit ratings in the long run. The biggest risk, though, is that it’s easy to run up new balances on the cards you paid off in the consolidation—and that’s definitely not a good move for your credit or your bottom line. As you make progress on paying off your loans, periodically check your free credit report to see where you stand.
Remember, moving debt is a means to your end. The goal is to pay off those balances and free up cash flow as well as to help build strong credit. So whether it’s a consolidation loan, credit card shuffle, or DMP, know your options so you get there just a little faster.
We cannot find a person without any sort of debt in this present world, where the way of living has been exceeded beyond what we can afford. The debt maybe of house loans, education loans, credit cards, car payments and your debt and payment history becomes your credit history and you may find later that you have a very bad credit score. This bad credit report can affect your life in a bad way that you never imagined. When you go to get a loan from a bank, or to get a new credit card or even to buy any utilities on EMI’s you can find how difficult they can turn out just due to your bad credit report and low credit score. So, it’s highly recommended to repair your credit before you experience these situations in your life. For credit repair, there are a number of credit repair companies in the market which provides you good services to repair your credit and to raise your credit score. Some credit repair companies also provide financial advices to their clients other than technical services. As there a number of credit repair companies in the market nowadays, it’s difficult to find which one is genuine and keeps their promises and which ones are frauds. So, you have to take care while choosing a credit repair company and in this article let me guide you on this matter.
First of all let me tell you that don’t go for a credit repair companies help and service, unless you have tried your best to sort out the problems in your credit report and failed to do it. Most of the credit repair companies offer services that you can do all by yourself. But in some cases you may need such companies help to sort out the problem and solve it. If you are a very busy person and you don’t have time to go after your credit report, then it’s ok to give your bad credit report for its repair to such companies on the fee they charge. Otherwise try yourself first and then only seek their services.
If you have decided to seek a credit repair company for your service, then don’t pick up your phone and fix an appointment. You have to consider certain things before doing so.
Most of the companies that offer credit repair services are scams. They might buy money from you as their fee and disappear overnight with your money. So beware of such companies and their traps. You can do this by doing a research on the company. You could get help from the state attorney general’s office or any other consumer assistance agencies run by the state. You can research on the companies track records, complaints registered against that company and the nature of the complaint, etc. if you find that company satisfactory, and then you can approach them.
Some companies may be promising you things that may be illegal, to correct your credit report. Don’t fall in such traps and sign any contract with them. You can go ahead and file complaint against such companies who offer illegal services.
After all these factors if you decide to go ahead with that credit repair company, then consider these things too.
Thanks to a new federal law put into place in September of 2005, everyone is entitled to one free credit report each year. This is so that you can verify that your report does not contain any false information, and so you can see how your credit rates. Getting your annual free report is as easy as going to the authorized source, www.annualcreditreport.com and requesting one.
Once you have your free report, what in the world do all those abbreviations, numbers and codes mean?! The most widely used system for scoring is the FICO score, developed by The Fair Isaac Corporation, and the number determines the risk to extend credit to an individual. Credit reports are usually divided into sections; identifying information, public records, credit history, and inquiries to your credit report from creditors looking to extend you credit based on your credit score.
The identifying information includes your name, address, and social security number. Make sure they are all correct. Usually this section will also include a list of your previous addresses, your date of birth, phone number, spouse’s name, employers information.
The public records section is the section you hope has no information. This is where a bankruptcy or judgment would show up on your report, and it will harm your rating more than anything else on the report, and take longer to repair.
The credit history section is the most confusing. It will list every creditor you’ve ever had business with, including accounts that have been closed and those that remain open with no balances, and accounts that you are currently making payments on. Depending on which credit reporting agency you get your report from, this section will actually be displayed differently on each report. Experian’s report displays it in “english”, and states everything in common sense terms, like “pays on time”, “pays 30 days late”, etc. Reports from other agencies might use numerical codes in a table that you have to refer to another page to find out what each code means. Either way, make sure you agree with each creditors reporting of you since this is how your score is determined. If you have accounts that you don’t have the credit cards for anymore, or a loan that has been paid off but remains on your report as a revolving credit (money available to you as you pay it down), call and write each company to ask them to close the account completely and report that to the credit agencies. Otherwise, it appears that you have all of that money available to you, and that goes against your debt to income ratio.
The section called “inquiries”, and it includes a list of everyone who has ever looked at your report. This will include credit companies you’ve contacted to request a credit card or loan, but it will also include what is considered “soft” inquiries. Soft inquiries are any promotional offers, such as a retail store checking into your credit history to determine whether or not to mail you an offer for their credit card. Soft inquiries do not harm your overall credit score.
You can also get a copy of a credit report any time you’ve been denied credit. This is because there is always the possibility that there are errors in your report, which prevented you from obtaining the credit you applied for. Regardless of how you get your report, take the time to look it over and find any discrepancies (immediately call the creditors in question and straighten it out) and close out any accounts that you no longer use but are showing open and available to you on your credit report. Having your report will show you where you stand if you’re considering going for a mortgage, new vehicle, or other loan.
Copied with permission from: http://plrplr.com/20033/what-s-in-a-credit-report/
A subject of great concern to many of those with damaged credit is the issue of time limits. The two main categories are collection-related and reporting-related.
Collection Of Debts
Collections Action - A creditor or third-party collection agency can legally demand or request payment on a debt, via letters and phone calls, forever, as long as the debt remains unpaid. A debtor can order a third-party collector to cease communication, as per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which should stop routine demands from that source. (See our Collection Agency FAQ for details.) In practice, the older a debt is, the less vigorous the collection efforts will be, and the more likely the creditor or collector will give up easily. And, unless the debt is secured by some type of property (e.g. a car), they cannot actually force a debtor to pay without a lawsuit.
Lawsuits - When a consumer is seriously delinquent (late) on a debt for a significant amount, there is the possibility of the creditor filing a lawsuit. The time limit for doing so is known as the statute of limitations, which is set by individual states. The relevant statute is the one for the state in which the debtor resided at the time of the delinquency. The expiration of the statute of limitations covering a debt will not necessarily prevent a lawsuit, but it will provide an absolute defense, whereby the debtor is simply required to file a response with the court, pointing out this fact, in order to have the suit dismissed. Here is a chart with the statute of limitations for each state and type of debt.
Judgements - If a lawsuit has already been filed and won by a creditor, there is another, separate statute of limitations for enforcing (collecting) the judgement. Here is a chart with the judgement enforcement time limits for each state.
Federal Taxes - Ten years from the date of the assessment for delinquent amounts, unless a lien has been filed. Tax liens on, for example, real estate, remain until the back taxes have been paid.
Student Loans - There is no statute of limitations or other time limit for lawsuits or other enforcement action on defaulted federal student loans.
Credit ReportingThe time limits for various types of information to appear on consumer credit reports are set by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Making payments or partial payments on bad debts does not effect the running of the credit reporting time limits, except in the case of tax liens and federal student loans. All other types of items should expire on schedule, based on the original dates, regardless of when or whether they are paid. There was previously a great deal of confusion over the starting point, which could have been interpreted as the date of the last activity on the account. This resulted in the possibility of "re-setting the clock" on an old bad debt by making a payment on it, or by paper-shuffling on the part of collection agencies. The issue was clarified in the 1996 amendments to the FCRA, which set a specific starting date related to the original delinquency date (see FCRA Section 605 (c) (1).)
Inquiries - Two years.
Late Payments - Seven years from the month in which the late payment was due. If there are multiple late payments in one account item, then they will each expire individually.
Charge-Offs - Seven years. The time runs from the date of the delinquency, plus 180 days. If a payment was due on an account on January 1, 2000, but the debtor defaulted, and never caught up to become current again, and the account is eventually declared a charge-off by the creditor, then the seven year reporting time limit starts running on July 1, 2000, with the item scheduled to expire from his/her credit reports on July 1, 2007. Here is our article on charge-offs.
Collection Accounts - Seven years. The running of this time limit is the same as with charge-offs. The date of delinquency still refers to the original delinquency with the original creditor, regardless of when the collection agency began working the debt. This includes debts that have been bought by a collection agency. Collection agencies cannot legitimately "re-set the clock."
Lawsuits And Judgements - Seven years or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is longer.
Bankruptcy (Chapter 7) - Ten years (from the date of entry of the order for relief or the date of adjudication.
Bankruptcy (Chapter 13) - Seven years.
Paid Tax Liens - Seven years from the date of payment.
Unpaid Tax Liens - Forever (unless paid - see above.)
Unpaid Federal Student Loans - Forever (unless paid, after which they can appear for seven years.)
The above time limits apply to credit reports which would be available to creditors for most types of credit applications. However, the credit bureaus are legally permitted to disclose older information in the following situations:
A credit application involving a principle loan amount of $150,000 or more.
An application for a life insurance policy with a payout of $150,000 or more.
An application for employment in a position paying $75,000 per year or more.