What Are Public Records on My Credit Report?

Desmond Rhodes

Your credit report consists of personally identifiable information (PII), credit accounts, credit inquiries, as well as public record information and collections.

If you have a major delinquent account, the lender may look to start legal proceedings against you. If you are found to be at fault, the delinquency will become public record — which can reflect negatively on your credit history and to other lenders in the future, as the courts will report it to the respective credit bureau.

Derogatory public record marks will stay on your credit report for the better half of a decade (and sometimes longer). It is important to understand which public records may show up on your credit report, how long they will stay, if you can get rid of them, and how to dispute them to any of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Table of Contents

What Public Records Show Up on a Credit Report?

There are several court actions stemming from delinquency that may show up on your credit report. These derogatory marks include:

  • Bankruptcy;
  • Judgment (such as a civil lawsuit);
  • Tax lien;
  • An account in collections;
  • Debt settlement;
  • Foreclosure and repossession.

Not all public records should show up on your credit report; don’t expect to see an unpaid parking ticket or even divorce reflected there. However, if you’ve filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it’ll likely make its way to your credit report. Additionally, if you’ve failed to pay your property taxes, this tax lien will become a derogatory mark on your credit.

Any account that arises out of significant delinquency will likely show up on your public record — negatively affecting your credit.

How Long Do Derogatory Public Records Stay on Your Credit Report?

Public records can last seven to 10 to even 15 years on your credit report.

Depending on which derogatory mark you have, and which state you live in, if the account has been paid, public records will stay on your credit report for seven-plus years.

For instance, unpaid tax liens can remain on your credit report for up to 10 to 15 years. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can stick around for 10 years. This means that your credit will suffer for a considerable amount of time unless you remove the mark.

How to Remove Public Records From Your Credit Report

Justified public records will be extremely difficult to remove from your credit report. If your derogatory mark can be easily confirmed by the court, you will need to accept that it will be on your credit report and start making efforts to improve your credit score in other ways.

However, if there are inconsistencies or errors in how these public records are reported, you may proceed with credit report dispute actions. For each mark, you’ll want to check and make sure the derogatory marks on your credit report are legitimate to ensure they should, in fact, be there.

You may be shocked if you check your credit report and see a derogatory mark. For instance, in the case of a judgment, you may find that you weren’t properly served or that the judgment was meant to serve someone else (who may have the same name, lived at your house before you, or other similarities).

You may point out these errors to a lawyer who can make efforts to have the judgment vacated — which means that credit bureaus cannot put it on your public record.

Additionally, tax liens may be removed if you pay them off. You can then request that the IRS or your local revenue department release the lien. This may or may not be released from your public record, but will increase your credit score.

Bankruptcies, foreclosures, or repossessions are fairly straightforward. They are essentially an admittance of your delinquency, and there is little you can do to remove them from your public record.

Do Public Records Stay Off Your Credit Report?

It is not illegal for credit agencies to put a derogatory mark on your credit report, and it may be the case that they only agree to remove the mark for a certain amount of time.

For instance, a credit agency may only agree to remove a tax lien for a few years, and may resume reporting it a few years later. It will be vital that you regularly check your credit report to see if these derogatory marks show up again on your public record.

How to Find Derogatory Marks on Your Credit Report

You can find many websites to check your credit report. Just make sure to use a legitimate site, as your personal information will be requested.

When checking your report, analyze the public records section carefully to make sure any derogatory mark on it should stand. If not, you may want to contact a lawyer and/or start your dispute efforts.

Understanding which derogatory marks are on your public record and credit report will be essential to knowing whether you can remove them. In the cases where you cannot remove them, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer, financial advisor, and/or a credit repair agency to start rebuilding your credit for a stable financial future.

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