Managing credit is a big responsibility, and sometimes mistakes are made. Although mistakes can’t be undone, fortunately, there are ways to recover from them. For smaller errors, it may be a simple waiting game before you see improvements in your credit score. However, for those who make bigger mistakes, it can mean following a dedicated credit recovery plan and lots of time.
How long does that negative information stay on your credit report?
It can depend on where you live, the type of unfavourable details, and the credit bureau. The two main credit bureaus in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion.
Information that affects your credit score
Overdue or missed payments are reported to the credit bureaus and can affect your score differently depending on the number of days late. The late payment is assigned a number rating from one to nine, with one representing a payment that is made as agreed within 30 days.
Equifax usually keeps negative information on record for six years from the date the lender reported it.
TransUnion, on the other hand, removes accounts with adverse credit history from your record six years from the date of first delinquency (for example, late payment or a debt sent to a collection agency).
These are loans that are backed by an asset, such as a mortgage, car lease or personal loan. Negative information on a secured loan account stays on your record for six years, except in P.E.I., where Equifax keeps the information for seven to 10 years. Equifax counts from the date of filing, whereas TransUnion counts from the date of first delinquency.
Sometimes chequing or savings accounts are closed when money is owed on the account, or the account holder commits fraud like writing bad cheques, for example. Negative information from a bank account can stay on record for up to six years. Equifax counts from the date of transaction or default, whereas TransUnion counts from the date of write-off or date closed – whichever is most recent.
Legal judgements are debts you owe due to a lawsuit ruling in court (if someone sues you and you lose the case).
If you’ve had a legal judgment made against you, usually, this information stays on record for six years from the date of filing. But this also varies based on the province.
TransUnion keeps this information on file for seven years in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Quebec. For those in Prince Edward Island, TransUnion keeps this information for 10 years. Equifax keeps it for seven to 10 years.
To learn more about regional variations, read the fine print on your credit report.
Debt sent to collections generally stays on your record for six years. The difference is that Equifax counts from the date the debt is first assigned to a collection agency, and TransUnion counts from the date of first delinquency (when the account first became delinquent with the original lender). This difference can be several months – even years – in some cases.
When it comes to registered items, such as a lien against your home, negative information can remain on file for up to 10 years, depending on where you live.
Equifax, for instance, holds that information for six years, except in P.E.I., where they keep it for seven to 10 years.
TransUnion holds the details for five years, counted from the date of filing.
A consumer proposal is a legal agreement between you and a creditor that you owe, that states you now only have to pay back a portion of your debt, and the creditor will forgive the rest of your balance.
Equifax will remove a consumer proposal from your record three years after you’ve paid off the agreed amount.
TransUnion will remove the proposal three years after you’ve paid off the agreed amount, or six years after you sign the proposal (whichever comes sooner).
If the proposal is not paid or satisfied, the maximum time a bureau can keep it on your record is six years.
Bankruptcy is a legal status that declares you are unable to repay your debts. Often, you have to surrender a portion of your assets to creditors so they can recover some of the money they are owed.
Typically, a bankruptcy remains on file for six years from the date you are discharged (meaning, the date you are no longer legally required to pay back the debt).
TransUnion keeps bankruptcies on record for seven years after you are discharged in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, P.E.I. and Quebec.
If not discharged, Equifax can keep a bankruptcy on your record for a maximum of seven years from the filing date, while TransUnion has no limit on how long it keeps the information.
In the case of multiple bankruptcies, the information stays on file for 14 years.
Every time a creditor inquires about your account, the “transaction” appears on your credit report. Equifax keeps negative inquiries (for example, from a collection agency) for three years, whereas TransUnion keeps it on record for six years.
TransUnion, keeps “soft” inquiries on file for two years in Quebec, and one year everywhere else. Soft inquiries such as checking your own credit report don’t impact your credit score.
That is why it’s best to be strategic when applying for new credit. Making several applications within a short period can signal a red flag to lenders and your score can take a hit.
Your credit score is not something that should be taken lightly, as it can affect your ability to apply for rent or a mortgage, get a job, buy insurance, or even get a cell phone plan.
If bad credit is plaguing you, the best way to improve your credit score is to prove to the bureaus that you’re now using your credit responsibly with good credit behaviours.
Take affirmative steps to keep your credit score on track, like making your payments on time, and spending less than 30% of your available credit.
Both bureaus usually keep positive information for up to 10 years from the last date a transaction appears on the account.
This post has been updated.