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Did You Know that Some Items Remain On Your Credit Reports Forever?


Did You Know that Some Items Remain On Your Credit Reports Forever?

You are probably familiar with the concept that most negative credit report items have an expiration date. There are very specific guidelines regarding credit reporting statutes of limitations which are spelled out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Thankfully for consumers, most negative items on a credit report have to be removed somewhere between the 7 and the 10 year mark. (CLICK HERE to read How Long Will Items Stay On My Credit Report for a detailed list.)

However, there are a few items which do not have a credit reporting expiration date. Check out the list below of the types of items which are legally allowed to hang around and haunt your credit reports forever.

Unpaid Tax Liens

When you pay off an outstanding tax lien and the lien is released it is required to be removed from your credit reports after 7 years from the date of release. Better yet, if your lien is withdrawn then it can actually be removed from your credit reports immediately. CLICK HERE to learn how to remove paid federal tax liens from your credit reports.

Unpaid tax liens, unfortunately for the tax payer, can remain on your credit reports forever. Another frustrating fact regarding outstanding tax liens is that fact that these liens can make it impossible for you to qualify for a mortgage, regardless of how high your credit scores climb.  However, the good news regarding federal tax liens is that you may only need to set up an approved payment plan in order to be eligible for a withdrawal under the IRS Fresh Start Program. The credit reporting agencies - Equifax, TranUnion, and Experian - do not currently include withdrawn tax liens on credit reports. So, if you are granted a withdrawal then you can request for the lien to be removed from your credit.

Outstanding Federal Student Loans

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is actually silent on the subject of federally guaranteed student loans. Instead these government guaranteed loans are governed by the Higher Education Act. As a result, federal student loans which have gone into default do not follow the 7 year deletion rule which most other defaulted accounts must adhere to under the FCRA. In other words, defaulted student loans are legally allowed to remain on your credit reports indefinitely.

You Are Not Out of Options

If unpaid tax liens (especially federal liens) or defaulted student loans are plaguing your credit reports that does not mean that you condemned to spend the rest of your life in credit prison, never able to qualify for a loan again. On the contrary, several rehabilitation plans or payment options may be available to you to help you get these outstanding issues resolved and enable you to begin rebuilding your credit.

CLICK HERE or call 704-499-9696 to schedule a no-obligation credit analysis to review your 3 credit reports and discuss possible solutions for your specific credit problems.

Other Exceptions

1. When Borrowing Over $150,000.

If you are applying for a loan higher than $150,000 then, according to the FCRA, any item on your credit reports which was previously purged off due to the age of the item (i.e. older than 7 or 10 years) could actually be included on your credit reports again. For example, if you had a 20 year old foreclosure it could legally be included on your credit reports when applying for a loan in excess of $150,000.

2. When Applying for Certain Jobs.

Credit reports (not scores) are often used for employment screening purposes as well. If you are applying for a job with an annual salary of $75,000 or higher then credit reporting statutes of limitation under the FCRA are suspended as well. As a result, previously purged credit report items could legally be allowed to show up on your credit reports.

3. Insurance Screening.

The final exception to the 7-10 year credit reporting rule can come into play when you apply for a life insurance policy valued at $150,000 or higher. Should a credit reporting agency choose to provide an insurance provider a more extensive view of your past credit history, including those items which have aged off of your standard credit reports, then they have the legal right to do so.

The Catch

Although in the case of the 3 exceptions above the credit reporting agencies are allowed to include information which would be outdated on a standard credit report, they are probably not going to choose to do so. In fact, it would be extremely unusual for a previously aged off account to reappear on your credit reports even if one of these specific exceptions applied to your situation. 

Michelle Black is an author and leading credit expert with over 13 years of experience, the credit blogger at, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, and a regularly featured speaker at seminars up and down the East Coast. She is an expert on improving credit scores, budgeting, and identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE4USA Facebook page by clicking here. 


Dawn of the Debt.....the Zombie Debt!


Dawn of the Debt.....the Zombie Debt!

 In most cases, debt does not live forever. That is wonderful news for anyone who has made overwhelming financial management mistakes in the past. There are laws which govern how long a lender has the right to sue you when you default on an account. The length of time will vary depending upon the state in which you lived when the debt was initially established. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) also governs how long a delinquent account is legally allowed to remain on your credit reports. The 2 statute of limitations (SOL) “clocks” are different, so let’s take a look at each.

Time Barred Debt Clock

The term “time barred debt” signifies that a creditor can no longer sue you for in an attempt to collect on an unpaid financial obligation. The statute of limitations clock which governs when a debt will become time barred varies per state. Here is a chart to help you out.

How Many Years a Collector Has to Sue: State Where You Lived When Debt Was Established:

  • 15 Years: KY and OH
  • 10 Years: IL, IN, IA, LA, MO, WV, WY
  • 8 Years: MT
  • 6 Years: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, GA, HI, KS, ME, MA, MI, MN, NV, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OR, SD, TN, UT, VT, WA, WI
  • 5 Years: FL, ID, NE, OK, RI, VA
  • 4 Years: CA, PA, TX
  • 3 Years: DE, MD, MS, NC, NH, SC, Washington D.C

Credit Reporting Clock

The credit reporting SOL clock is much easier to understand since it is the same for all 50 states. The FCRA states that a defaulted debt can remain on your credit reports for 7 years from the date of default. Period. If an account is sold to a collection agency, the SOL clock for credit reporting cannot legally be restarted. 

Resurrecting “Dead” Debt

If you have defaulted on past debt which you could not afford to pay then it is important to beware of “zombie debt” coming back to bite you. Collection agencies have been known to try a variety of tactics to resurrect old debts which should be dead and gone due to the fact that the debt was part of a discharged bankruptcy, the debt is the result of identity theft, or the SOL clock has expired and the debt has become time barred. Here are 2 of the tactics often used by zombie debt buyers of which you should beware:

1. Default Judgments

Even if a debt has become time barred in your state, a creditor may still attempt to sue you for the debt. If you fail to show up in court and defend yourself then you will automatically lose and the creditor will be awarded a default judgment. The moral of this story is that, if a creditor is suing you for a old debt and you believe that the debt should be time barred, show up to court. Better yet, show up with an attorney.

2. Tricking Consumers into Resetting the Clock

It is surprisingly easy for consumers to accidentally restart the statute of limitations so that a creditor can regain the right to sue you and attempt to force collection. (Note: nothing can legally restart the SOL clock for credit reporting. If you have heard otherwise, you have heard a myth. Of course, you should always keep an eye on your credit reports for mistakes since some collection agencies are known break the law quite often, but that is a story for another article.) Collection agencies trick many consumers into acknowledging that a debt belongs to them and, once the debt has been acknowledged verbally or in writing, that acknowledgement may be enough to remove the debt from a time barred status, depending upon your state. 

A second way that consumers get into trouble with zombie debt is by making a small payment on an old, time barred account. For example, a debt collector might contact you regarding an old account and ask you to make a small payment in good faith. Unbeknownst to the consumer, once any payment has been made on the account then the clock has been reset and the creditor once again has the right to sue. 

Please do not misinterpret the previous paragraph as advising you not to pay a legitimate, albeit old debt. If you find yourself in a better financial situation where you can now afford to settle past mistakes then, by all means, go for it. However, you should be sure to settle any time barred debts in full rather than scheduling small, monthly payments. If you settle or pay the account in full then there will be no deficiency balance left for a creditor to come after and you can protect yourself from a potential lawsuit. Paying off your debts is admirable, and may be the right thing to do even if the debt has become time barred. 


About the Author Michelle Black is an 11+ year HOPE Credit Expert, the credit blogger at, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, a contributor to the Wealth Section of Fort Mill Magazine, and  a regularly featured speaker at seminars up and down the East Coast. She is an expert on improving credit scores, budgeting, and recovering from identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE Facebook page by clicking here.