Depending on the type of reportable credit event, the statutory reporting limit is either two years (credit history requests), seven years (missed payments; most public record items, such as court judgments; chapter 13 bankruptcy), or ten years (paid closed accounts; chapters 7, 11 and 12 bankruptcies). Bankruptcies are reported on consumer credit reports because they are credit-related (or debt-related) public records. The length of time a bankruptcy remains on a credit report depends on the type of bankruptcy.
A Chapter 7, 11 or 12 bankruptcy is reportable for ten years and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is reportable for seven years from the date of filing in bankruptcy court. Chapter 13 has a shorter reporting time than other bankruptcy types because it requires at least partial repayment of the debts the filer is attempting to have discharged. In this way, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is treated like any other non-payment or payment delinquency, which also has a reportable timeframe of seven years.
On the expiration of the reporting period for a specific bankruptcy, the bankruptcy and all discharged accounts should be deleted automatically. An account listed for discharge in the bankruptcy, however, may be removed prior to expiration of the bankruptcy’s reporting period or even prior to filing the bankruptcy altogether. Since the date for removal of delinquent accounts is based on the date of delinquency, the delinquency will fall off a credit report seven years after the delinquency and will not be renewed merely based on its inclusion in the bankruptcy.
If a consumer discovers that either a bankruptcy or any associated account remains on their credit report beyond the expiration period, the consumer can and should promptly open a dispute with any and all credit reporting bureaus—i.e., TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax—continuing to report the item(s). If the lingering credit item is an individual account or delinquency that should have fallen off either with or before an associated bankruptcy’s falloff, the consumer should be especially cautious in dealing with its removal.
Even if a debt has been discharged in bankruptcy, unscrupulous or underinformed creditors or collectors might use a debtor’s account inquiry or attempt at negotiating a credit report removal to justify re-aging the account. The fact that a debt is no longer collectible does not necessarily stop collectors from pursuing the a judgment on the debt or from using its presence on a consumer’s credit report to force undue payment. Thus, a debtor who knows or suspects a credit account item connected to a bankruptcy filing should have fallen off their report should file a dispute with the credit reporting bureau before attempting other methods of resolution.