By LaToya Irby. Credit/Debt Management Expert
Welcome to About.com's Credit/Debt Management site, led by your guide, LaToya Irby. LaToya has been the credit and debt management guide since 2007. Read more
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the federal law that spells, among other things, out how long negative information can remain on your credit report. The credit reporting time limit is seven years for most negative information. Certain types of negative information will stay on your credit report for longer than that.
For California Residents
For New York Residents
Do You Have to Do Anything?
Once the credit reporting time limit has elapsed, the outdated information should automatically drop from your credit report.
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You don't have to do anything to prompt the credit bureau to update your credit report.
However, if there's an error with the reporting date, you will have to use the credit report dispute process to have the error corrected so that the information falls off your credit report at the correct time. Send copies of all the evidence you have supporting your claim to help prove your case. You can complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if the credit bureau and information
furnisher continue violating your rights by listing inaccurate information on your credit report.
Reporting Time Limit vs. Obligation to Pay
Just because the credit reporting time limit expires doesn't mean you no longer owe a debt. The credit reporting time limit does not define how long a creditor or collector can go after you for an unpaid bill. As long as a legitimate debt remains unpaid, the creditor can attempt to collect from you by calling, sending letters. and any other legal action.
Confusion With the Statute of Limitations
There's another time period that applies to debts, the statute of limitations. This time limit varies by state and limits the amount of time a creditor or collector can use the court to force you to pay a debt - if you can prove that the statute of limitations has passed. The statute of limitations is typically separate from the credit reporting time limit. The debt may continue to be listed on your credit report even though the statute of limitations has passed, particularly if the statute of limitations is less than seven years. However, lawsuit judgements can continue to be reported through the state statute of limitations if that time period of more than seven years.