Your credit history. It could be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Usually it’s like a nosy mother in law coming to visit for an extended period. You know that she’s coming, and that’s always bad news, but you are too afraid to ask or even consider how long she will be staying. Even though that was the worst analogy ever, read on to see how long negative marks should remain on your credit history!

In my opinion, there are two records that really count. Your criminal record and your financial record. Unlike your criminal record which will loom over your head for a very long time, your credit report and scores are not permanent. But how long can these negative records exist on file?

First, errors in your credit report will be removed immediately. It you find a mistake, or a negative account that doesn’t belong to you, contact the credit reporting agency and the creditor. You should be able to have the negative account removed within 180 days.

Anytime your credit report is pulled at your request, something called an inquiry is put on your report. An occasional inquiry couldn’t hurt, but if you have placed a large number of inquiries within a short time period, this usually lets prospective creditors know that you need the dough and you need it fast. The bottom line is that the more inquiries that show up on your report, the lower your score will drop. These will usually last only up to two years.

But here’s the scoop about inquiries. Not all inquires will negatively affect your credit score. Soft inquiries, like when you get your credit score, or when companies check your credit for purposes of making unsolicited credit offers do do any harm. When you apply for a credit card, the creditor pulls your credit report that will result in what is a hard inquiry. This may potentially lower your score.

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