Your credit score from the major reporting agencies plays a big role in whether or not lenders decide to loan you a line of credit. It will also determine how much the lender will loan to you and what terms you will be offered. There are certain actions and occurrences which end up being recorded on your credit report that negatively affect your score. If you are trying to improve your credit score it is important to know how long these negative items remain on your credit report.

Hard inquiry

When you or a third-party requests your credit report from a reporting agency it is known as an “inquiry.” There are two types of credit report inquiries: soft and hard. A soft inquiry is when you pull your own credit report or when a landlord pulls your credit report to determine if you are a good potential tenant. When an employer makes a credit inquiry it is also considered a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries do not negatively affect your credit report.

On the other hand, a hard inquiry is reported on your credit report and can negatively affect your score. This happens when a lender pulls your credit report in order to open a new line of credit. Although a few hard inquiries every once in a while is not too bad, multiple hard inquiries over a short period of time can significantly lower your credit score.

Luckily, hard inquiries only remain on your credit report for two years.


If you are significantly late on paying your bills, usually 30 days or more, it will result in a delinquency being added to your credit report which brings your credit score down. Missed payments and accounts sent to collection agencies are also counted as delinquencies. Usually delinquencies will stay on your report for seven years.


When your creditor writes off the debt you owe after you have failed to pay it is recorded as a “charge-off” which counts against your credit score. These negative items stay on your credit report for seven years in addition to 180 days from when the charge-off is reported to the credit agency.

Defaulting on student loans

If you fail to pay your student loans the default will stay on your credit report for seven years along with an additional 180 days from the date of your first missed payment on a private student loan. On the other hand, federal student loans are taken off your credit report after seven years following the default date or from the date the loan is moved to the U.S. Department of Education.


When a mortgage lender takes control of your home for failing to make timely payments, it is known as a foreclosure. This will remain on your credit report for seven years from the first payment missed.

Lawsuits or judgements

As of April 2018, civil judgements against you, whether paid or unpaid, were supposed to be removed from your credit report. However, you may want to double-check to make sure and request any remaining judgements to be removed.


Filing bankruptcy can be one of the most damaging items on a credit report. A bankruptcy will remain on your report for a period of seven to ten years.

Tax liens

Beginning April 2018 tax liens were no longer included on your credit report. However, you should still check and request to remove any tax liens that still remain.

How do I improve my credit score?

One important way to increase your credit score or at least prevent it from going down is to avoid having negative items reported in the first place. Your wealth management advisor can help you devise a strategy to help you avoid negative items and get you back on the right track.

The information contained within this blog has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.