Deep Dive: Public Records

You may be thinking “What?! The government can ding my credit too?” It’s true, but there are only three types of public records that can appear on your credit report:

  1. Bankruptcy
  2. Tax liens
  3. Civil judgments

How long are they on my credit report?

  • Bankruptcy
    • Chapter 13: 7 years
    • Chapter 7: 10 years
  • Tax liens
    • Unpaid: 10 years
    • Paid: 7 years from the filing date
  • Civil judgments
    • As long as they’re unpaid

Can I get public records off my credit report?

One thing to be aware of…

Government agencies CAN affect your credit in ways other than the public records. For example, municipal governments can report you to the bureaus for not paying traffic tickets. The good news is they’ll usually delete the reported item completely when you pay them, so be sure to make sure that’s the case. It’s much better to have a debt completely deleted than to have it marked as “paid”.

About IRS Installment/Payment Agreements…

Payment/installment agreements with the IRS do not show up on credit reports, and you can use this to your advantage. Let’s say you have a tax bill of $1000 coming up, and you also have maxed out credit card debt of $2000 that’s hurting your credit score. If you have cash to pay the tax debt, one option to consider is setting up a payment plan with the IRS so you free up that cash to pay off your credit card. This improves your credit score AND saves you money, because the IRS charges much lower interest rates than credit cards do.

Need help with all this?