How long do unpaid debts stay on credit reports?

Unpaid debts can be easy to ignore. For instance, someone who doesn’t have the money to pay may not open letters or may not listen to messages demanding payment on debts such as credit card bills and medical payments. However, just because someone stops think about the unpaid debts after the letters and telephone calls stop coming doesn’t mean there are no repercussions. Unpaid debts can actually cause a person to be sued by the creditor or debt collection agency. In addition, unpaid debts appear and stay on the credit report for years.

Typically, negative information such as unpaid debts stays on someone’s credit report for a minimum of seven years or longer—depending on the type of information.  For instance, a person who defaults on their student loans will see that negative information on their credit report for approximately seven years. Also, unpaid debts that are listed as charge-offs stay on a credit report for 180 days from the time it was listed plus seven years. Negative information that are considered delinquencies (collections and late payments), judgments and foreclosures stay on the credit report for seven years too.

Unpaid debts are easy to forget, but they have devastating consequences such as a lower credit score. Thus, anyone thinking about trying to improve their credit rating or pay off unpaid debts should contact a lawyer. The lawyer will review their finances and advise the person on what actions to take—whether if it’s paying off the debt or filing for personal bankruptcy.

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