If you are late on a credit card payment, installment loan or a home loan, for instance, there will be consequences to your credit score.  Any late payment, judgment or other credit event will be reflected on your credit report. This may lower your credit score and make your interest payments more expensive, as well as make it more difficult for you to access credit.Credit Report

Here is a list of negative credit events and how long they remain with you:

* Late payment: 24 months
This can be a late payment of a day, months or longer. On your credit report there will be a grid with all your payments for the last 24 months. Each of your payments will reflect on the report and, if it was late, how late your payment was. Every month, the oldest record (from 24 months before) drops off your credit report and the newest payments will be recorded.

* Judgments: 5 years
A judgment is when a court of law instructs you to pay a debt. This normally happens when you ignore multiple notices from the lender and the lender goes to a court to force you to pay.

* Notices:
Administration orders: 10 years
Rehabilitation orders: 5 years
Sequestration orders: 10 years

“A notice is a legal action that has been taken against you after you have failed to pay a debt or outstanding account.” (source: transunion)  If you have notices on your credit report, you should consult with an attorney or legal representative for help to deal with the notice.

* Default:
Enforcement action listings: 2 years
Subjective action listings: 1 year

These are when the credit provider has listed you for non-payment and is planning to take legal action. The first instance is when legal action has been taken and the second is where you are deemed something like a “slow payer”, for instance.

If you have been liquidated, there is no limit on how long the record can remain on your credit report. Individuals in debt counseling will have this information recorded on their credit reports until they are issued with a clearance certificate.

Credit enquiries stay on the report for 2 years. Too many enquiries could be a red flag. It normally points to an individual taking out loans to meet the payments on other loans. If you don’t recognize the institution who made an enquiry on your credit report, it can point towards identity theft or fraud.

How does one dispute records on your credit report?

Contact the credit bureau. The credit bureau will contact the credit provider and if the credit provider cannot prove the information that is disputed by the consumer, the credit bureau must remove the information from its records within 20 days and let all the other credit bureaus know.

If you are still not happy about how the dispute was resolved, you can complain to the Credit Ombud by calling 0860 662 837 or emailing them at ombud@creditombud.org.za.

Kevin Mzansi