Budgeting Managing Your Debt Why Your Credit Report May Contain Expired Debts How the Statute of Limitations Affects Your Credit Report By LaToya Irby LaToya Irby Facebook Twitter LaToya Irby is a credit expert who has been covering credit and debt management for The Balance for more than a dozen years. She's been quoted in USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press, and her work has been cited in several books. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 21, 2021 Reviewed by Pamela Rodriguez Reviewed by Pamela Rodriguez Instagram Pamela Rodriguez is a Certified Financial Planner®, Series 7 and 66 license holder, with 10 years of experience in Financial Planning and Retirement Planning. She is the founder and CEO of Fulfilled Finances LLC, the Social Security Presenter for AARP, and the Treasurer for the Financial Planning Association of NorCal. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Ariana Chávez Fact checked by Ariana Chávez Ariana Chávez has over a decade of professional experience in research, editing, and writing. She has spent time working in academia and digital publishing, specifically with content related to U.S. socioeconomic history and personal finance among other topics. She leverages this background as a fact checker for The Balance to ensure that facts cited in articles are accurate and appropriately sourced. learn about our editorial policies Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: erhui1979/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images Your credit report contains a record of almost all your credit and loan accounts, delinquent debts, and some public records. Since your credit report is the basis for many financial decisions, you want the most positive and accurate information to show on your credit report. You also want negative information gone as quickly as possible. While positive information may be reported indefinitely, negative information can only stay on your credit report for a certain length of time. This time period is known as the credit reporting time limit. Many consumers erroneously think that debts should disappear from their credit reports after the statute of limitations has passed, but they're confusing the statute of limitations with the credit reporting time limit. Because of the difference in these two time periods, some debts can still be listed on your credit report after the statute of limitations has run out. Statute of Limitations vs. Credit Reporting Time Limit The statute of limitations and the credit reporting time limit are two separate and independent time periods, governed by separate laws. The statute of limitations varies by state and can be as short as three years, depending on each state’s law. The statute of limitations affects the amount of time that debt is legally enforceable. In other words, it’s the amount of time a creditor can use the court to force you to pay a debt. In most cases, the statute of limitations has no bearing on whether a debt shows up on your credit report and only impacts a creditor's ability to win a lawsuit against you. To win a case based on the expiration of the statute of limitations, you (and your attorney) have to show up to court and present the argument along with proof that the statute of limitations has passed. The credit reporting time limit, on the other hand, is the time period that defines how long a negative debt can be listed on your credit report. The period as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is seven years for most debts. The FCRA is a federal law and is the same for all debts, regardless of the state where the debt was created. Once the credit reporting time limit has passed, most negative information will automatically fall off your credit report with no effort on your part. If there’s outdated negative information on your credit report, you can submit a credit report dispute with the credit bureau to have it removed. An Exception for Lawsuit Judgments If you live in one of those states with a shorter statute of limitations, you may have debts that remain on your credit report even after the statute of limitations has passed. The exception is when a state’s statute of limitations for a lawsuit judgment is more than seven years. In that case, the judgment may remain on your credit report until the statute of limitations has elapsed. If you restart the statute of limitations—by making a payment on the debt, for example—it does not increase the amount of time the debt will show up on your credit report. It’s typically best to pay off past-due accounts that still have several years to show up on your credit report, regardless of whether the statute of limitations has passed. Creditors and lenders will view you more favorably once the accounts are paid off. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Federal Trade Commission. "A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act," Page 2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "My Debt Is Several Years Old. Can Debt Collectors Still Collect?"