Public record information on your credit report can negatively affect your credit score and may stay on your credit report for seven years or more. While it's best to avoid them, if you already have one reported on your credit report, there are a few things you should know.
What is a public record?
"Public records" refer to county, state or federal materials that are typically viewable by the public. Examples of public record information that are often included on credit reports are bankruptcies, civil judgments, tax liens, foreclosures and wage garnishments.
How will it affect my credit?
Adverse public records included on your credit report can have severe negative effects your credit score. Generally, only time can lessen the impact of a public record on your credit report. Most public records can remain on your credit report for seven years. However, certain types of public records may remain for longer periods. For example, bankruptcies may remain on your report for ten years, and an unpaid tax lien could remain on your credit indefinitely.
What can I do?
You can view the number of public records you have on credit reports from the three major credit bureaus by checking your TransUnion credit report for free on Credit Karma and your Equifax and Experian credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. If you believe the public record information on your credit report is inaccurate, you can dispute it as an error to the bureau.
If the public record information is accurate, the main steps you can take are to make sure you've paid any overdue accounts and to call up each credit bureau reporting the public record to find out for how much longer it will be on your credit report. In the meantime, keep the rest of your credit in good health by taking steps like making on-time bill payments and maintaining a balanced credit utilization rate.
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