At a Glance

Removing derogatory items from your credit report is possible, but it does take time and effort. These negative marks on your report can impact your ability to get credit in the future and lower your score. It might be from a bankruptcy, foreclosure, or something as small as a late payment. How to remove them will depend on the severity of the mark and how long it has been since the incident. If you are struggling with derogatory marks, you’re not alone: around 28% of Americans have at least one debt in collections.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What do derogatory items on a credit report mean?

Derogatory items on a credit report are negative marks that indicate a borrower’s failure to meet their financial obligations and can significantly impact their credit score. These derogatory items can stay on a credit report for several years, making it more difficult for the borrower to obtain credit in the future. It’s important to address any derogatory items on a credit report as soon as possible by paying off debts or setting up a payment plan with lenders.

Types of derogatory credit items

There are several types of derogatory credit items that can appear on a credit report. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Late payments: A late payment occurs when a borrower does not pay on a loan or credit account by the due date. Late payments can be reported as 30, 60, 90, or 120+ days past due.
  • Collection accounts: When a borrower fails to pay a debt for an extended period, the lender may sell the debt to a collection agency. The collection agency will then try to collect the debt from the borrower.
  • Charge-offs: When a debt goes unpaid for an extended period of time, the lender may write it off as a loss. This is called a charge-off, which can severely damage a borrower’s credit score.
  • Bankruptcies: When a borrower files for bankruptcy, it can have a negative impact on their credit score. There are two types of bankruptcy that can appear on a credit report: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
  • Foreclosures: When a borrower fails to make mortgage payments, the lender may foreclose on the property. This can severely damage a borrower’s credit score and make it difficult to obtain credit in the future.
  • Repossessions: When a borrower fails to pay on a car loan or other secured debt, the lender may repossess the collateral (i.e. the car). This can also negatively impact a borrower’s credit score.

How to remove derogatory items from your credit report?

Although it might not be easy, there are steps you can take to remove derogatory items from your credit report.

1. Check for inaccuracies

One of the easiest ways to do this is to access a copy of your credit report from one of the three main credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Checking for mistakes means reviewing all of your personal information, like your name and address, as well as looking at the different accounts listed and the payment history associated with them. If any items appear incorrect, it is important to address discrepancies directly with the respective credit bureau to get them corrected. Fixing errors on a credit report can help ensure that lenders have accurate information when making decisions about creditworthiness and may potentially save money by avoiding higher interest rates or other unfavorable terms.

2. Submit a dispute to your credit bureau

Start by getting an up-to-date copy of your credit report and examining it for incorrect information or derogatory items. Next, reach out to the creditor that reported the negative mark to try and resolve the issue with them directly. If nothing is resolved, submit a dispute to your credit bureau online or via mail, along with the relevant documents needed to back up your case. It may take some time and patience, but disputing derogatory items on your credit report is essential if you want to improve your financial health and stand a better chance of receiving advantageous loans in the future.

Related: Can Disputing Credit Report Hurt Your Credit?

3. Offer a pay-for-delete to your creditor

This involves adding a clause to an agreement for partial payment of your debt, stating the creditor will delete any derogatory item from your credit history with full payment. Make sure to get this agreement in writing before paying any money, as it’s important that the creditor stands by their end of the bargain. To better understand how this works and how to approach creditors, research similar cases in your state and consult with an accredited financial advisor.

4. Goodwill request for deletion

Requesting a goodwill deletion from creditors can be an effective way to remove an unwanted derogatory mark on your credit report. To send one, you’ll need to craft a thoughtful letter that outlines the circumstances of the derogatory mark and provides compelling information as to why it should be removed. You should include evidence like timely payments since the incident or any recent hardships that have been alleviated in making your case. Ideally, this request is sent directly to the creditor as a goodwill gesture and with polite language expressing gratitude for considering its removal.

5. Wait out the credit reporting time limit

The good news is that the most severe negative items, like bankruptcies and foreclosures, can only remain on a credit report for seven years. Other types of bad information, such as late payment entries or collections accounts, will typically stay on a credit report for seven years from the entry date. Consumers should be wary, though, because some creditors have their own internal policies to wait out derogatory marks even longer than what is required by law, thus extending the amount of time until those items fall off of credit reporting.

For how long do derogatory marks stay on your credit?

The length of time derogatory marks stay on a credit report depends on the type of derogatory mark. Here are some common derogatory marks and how long they typically stay on a credit report:

  • Late payments can stay on a credit report for up to seven years from the delinquency date.
  • Collection accounts can stay on a credit report for up to seven years from the date of the original delinquency that led to the debt being sent to collections.
  • Charge-offs can stay on a credit report for up to seven years from the charge-off date.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcies can stay on a credit report for up to 10 years from the filing date, while Chapter 13 bankruptcies can stay on a credit report for up to seven years from the filing date.
  • Foreclosures can stay on a credit report for up to seven years from the foreclosure date.
  • Repossessions can stay on a credit report for up to seven years from the date of the repossession.

Will paying off derogatory items remove them from credit?

While it may not be enough to completely remove them from your credit report, paying off derogatory items will still result in an improved credit rating if done properly. Taking the time to address these items and put a plan together to pay them responsibly can convince future lenders of your trustworthiness and help demonstrate you are taking steps to improve. Additionally, simply ensuring that current debts are paid promptly can go a long way toward building good credit.


Paying off derogatory accounts can help to improve a credit score, but it may not necessarily do so automatically or immediately. The impact of paying off derogatory accounts on a credit score can depend on several factors, such as the type of derogatory account, the age of the account, the borrower’s overall credit profile, and other factors.

For example, paying off a collection account may not necessarily improve a credit score, as the collection account will still be reported on the borrower’s credit report. However, some lenders may be willing to remove a collection account from a credit report if paid in full, which can improve your credit score.

Similarly, paying off a charge-off or a late payment can help to improve a credit score over time, as the impact of the derogatory item on the credit score will diminish as it ages. However, it may take some time for the credit reporting agencies to update the credit report and for the credit score to reflect the change.

It’s difficult to say exactly how many points a credit score will go up when a derogatory item is removed, as it depends on several factors, like the severity and age of the derogatory item and your overall credit profile. However, removing a derogatory item from a credit report is generally considered a positive action that can help to improve your credit score.

If you have a relatively short credit history with only a few derogatory marks, removing one derogatory item may have a greater impact on your credit score than it would for a borrower with a longer credit history and several derogatory marks. Generally speaking, removing a single derogatory item could result in an increase of anywhere from 10-50 points on your FICO score.

Yes, collection agencies can remove derogatory credit marks. It depends on the severity of the mark and how recent it is. However, most negative items can be removed from a credit report if you work with the creditor or collection agency to resolve your debt.

How long it takes for a derogatory mark to fall off from your credit report depends on the type of debt and how long it has been reported. Generally, most negative information like delinquent accounts, late payments, bankruptcy filings, and repossession will stay on your report for up to 7 years; however, there are some exceptions. For example, unpaid tax liens can remain on your report indefinitely until they are paid in full.