Credit Score Improving Your Score

Are Your Public Records Hurting Your Credit Score?

Written by John Ulzheimer

The next time you review your credit reports you’ll likely see a section titled “Public Record Information.” The credit reporting agencies routinely include certain financial related public records in their consumer credit reports. If you’re unfortunate enough to have public record information on your credit reports there are several things you need to know and, unfortunately, the news is mostly bad.

When a public record appears on your credit reports it is likely to cause considerable damage to your credit scores. Public records are commonly included in any list containing derogatory credit entries. The list of public record options that can appear on credit reports is limited to three.

Which Public Records Appear on Credit Reports?

First off, while there are many different types of public records, there is no such thing as a good public record when we’re on the topic of credit reporting. They are tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies. The tax liens can be either state or Federal and the judgments can be in any court jurisdiction including Federal or state.

How Public Records Find Their Way onto Credit Reports

Consumers are often very confused about the way the public records find their way onto credit reports. Traditional credit accounts such as loans and credit cards appear on credit reports because the lender reports them to the credit bureaus. Public record credit reporting works in a very different manner.

As the name suggests, public records are public information. Anyone can see them including me, you, your neighbors, and any other interested party. The credit bureaus themselves actually seek out public record information in order to include them on credit reports.

Public records vendors and electronic access to court records, such as PACER, are used to collect information about bankruptcies, tax liens, and judgments

How Long Do Public Records Remain on Credit Reports?

Not only do public records have the potential to cause damage to a consumer’s credit scores but also they have to potential to damage those credit scores for a very long time.

Like any other type of negative information that appears on credit reports, the Fair Credit Reporting Act defines how long a public record is allowed to remain on a consumer’s credit report. Credit reporting limitations vary depending upon the type of public record being reported. Here is a quick guide.

1. Judgments Judgments must be purged from credit reports 7 years from the date filed. Paid or unpaid, satisfied or unsatisfied, 7 years is the limit. However, if a judgment is re-filed with the court it will be given a new filing date and potentially cause it to remain for 7 more years.

Vacated judgments are removed from credit reports immediately. Vacating a judgment means it never existed.

2. Bankruptcy Consumer bankruptcies have arguably the most confusing statute of limitations when it comes to credit reporting since the credit reporting “time limit” changes based upon a variety of factors. Chapter 7 bankruptcies can remain on credit reports for 10 years from the filing date.

Chapter 13 bankruptcies can remain on credit reports for 7 years from the discharge date; however, they cannot be reported for longer than 10 years from the filing date. In most cases a Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes several years to discharge so most of them remain on file for 10 years, like Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

3. Tax Liens Paid and released tax liens are removed from credit reports 7 years from the date of release on the lien, not the date filed.

Federal tax liens that have been withdrawn are removed immediately, although the consumer will typically need to inform the credit bureaus about the lien withdrawal in order to have it removed. Unpaid tax liens can remain on credit reports indefinitely.


About the author

John Ulzheimer


  • I saw someone leave an info under comment section on helping to repair credit I was interested in knowing more and if the hacker still does this. I had bad credit, a old bankruptcy & problems with getting approved for a apartment due to 2 broken leases from the past which I explained to CREDIT BRAINIAC when I made contact to him. The hacker cleared my bad records and improved my credit score at a good cost. Everyone having credit issues should reach him at creditbrainiac (@ gmail . com).

  • The Department of Education, aka the federal government, needs to give victims of student debt a real break. They’ve stripped away of practically every consumer protection.

  • I have a niece that has been convicted of many counts of I. D. Theft. Although she did not go to jail she was to reimburse, pay the victims back of what she stole from them, but she has not done a thing and this does not appear on her credit report. How is this possible?

  • so if you pay a debt that the creditor filed in 2008 as a default or charge off and you pay them in 2014 the credit rating agencies says you still will have 7 more years of the derogatory rating by this company. so in essence if you didn’t pay them at all the derogatory would fall off after a certain amount of time but by paying when you were able you get 7 more years why is that ?

    • Derogatory marks fall off after 7 years. You paid the debt. It should state paid but still negative marks stay in place as late payments. Paying a debt with out a written contract stating they will remove after paying in full stays on your credit for years showing length of time of credit history

  • When it comes to time limits (7 yrs or 10 yrs) most creditors and the three major credit bureaus well use the maximum time allowed. Although the Fair Credit Reporting Act does not indicate that it is required. The Act states: “May” report up to a maximum of 7 or 10 years. “May” is the operative word. Nothing stops them from removing paid, settled or discharged accounts from the reports earlier other than their own in house rules. Find a good attorney, who knows what they are doing and who knows the law and then challenge these companies. It well be hard finding an attorney who really knows the law. Most are lazy and like sheep just follow the heard as it is easy money for them. They well talk with you and in the end tell you nothing can be done and charge $250.00 – $500.00. That is BS. You have to decide if it is worth the time and money to challenge these companies, however. Most of the time you can have items removed by yourself. More information can be obtained by contacting the Federal Reserve Board of Governors or your State Senator, who well have a staff member contact the Federal Reserve on your behalf. Be patient, consistent, courteous and tenacious.

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