Home > Credit Reports > What Does Having a Derogatory Public Record on My Credit Report Mean

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Since the National Consumer Assistance Plan went into effect in 2017, public records must meet strict requirements in order to appear on consumer credit reports. Civil judgments and tax liens do not meet these new requirements, so they were removed from credit reports. At this point, the only derogatory public record that should appear on your credit report is bankruptcy. If a tax lien or civil judgment still appears on your credit report, you should dispute that record with the credit reporting agencies.

How Much Do Public Records Affect Credit Scores?

Bankruptcy can cause a FICO score to drop by 200 points or more. A filing may lower credit scores for seven to 10 years and be difficult to remove from a credit report unless any information is inaccurate.

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    The decision to exclude other public records slightly increased FICO scores for many consumers and resulted in increases of 20 to 40 points in some cases.

    Bankruptcies and Your Credit Report

    Bankruptcies are the one public record that are still included on your credit report. In most cases, they will remain on your report for seven to 10 years.

    You can dispute an inaccurate report of bankruptcy or one being reported beyond the statute of limitations. Review your report for any inaccuracies and contact the credit bureaus to dispute inaccuracies if need be. If a credit bureau claims to have court verification of a bankruptcy, you should send a procedural letter to determine how they verified the public record on credit report. Follow up with the courts to determine whether the bankruptcy was actually verified.

    〉 Learn more about when and why you should file bankruptcy and how doing so will affect your credit.

    Civil Judgments and Your Credit Report

    Civil judgments result when a creditor sues you for an outstanding debt and wins. That creditor then has more avenues for pursuing payment: they may now satisfy delinquent or outstanding debt through wage garnishment or by seizing funds from checking or savings accounts.

    Judgments are no longer factored into credit scores, though they are still public record and can still impact your ability to qualify for credit or loans. Lenders may still check to see whether any outstanding judgments against a potential borrower exist. You should pay legitimate judgments and dispute inaccurate judgments to ensure these do not affect your finances unduly.

    〉 Learn more about how to deal with civil judgments.

    If a civil judgment is still on your credit report, file a dispute with the appropriate credit reporting agencies to have it removed.

    Tax Liens and Your Credit Report

    Tax liens are filed by the IRS when you don’t pay your taxes. A lien is automatically filed when you owe more than $10,000. When the IRS files a tax lien against you, it essentially gives the agency first dibs on any payment you receive from selling or liquidating your assets to pay your debts.

    While tax liens are no longer reported on credit reports, they can significantly impact your financial situation in ways that indirectly affect your credit score.

    〉 Learn more about tax liens.

    If a tax lien is being reported on your credit report, file a dispute.

    How to Deal with Derogatory Public Records

    Although judgments and tax liens are no longer filed on credit reports or factored into credit scores, these penalties can undermine your financial standing. If a derogatory public record is filed against you‚ you should monitor the effects on your credit and ensure that information pertaining to your filing is accurate.

    Check your reports regularly to ensure they are fair, accurate and up-to-date. You can watch for changes by getting your free Credit Report Card and credit score monitoring from Credit.com.

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    • Jeanine Skowronski

      You may be able to dispute the information on your credit report using your divorce decree. More info here: https://www.credit.com/credit-repair/dispute-credit-report-error/



    • InfoNeeded

      My judgement has — by date with my transunion and equifax report, However with my experian report its no judgement listed. what does that mean?

    • YuliB

      I had a judgment against me in 2008. Not only I was not served properly, they simply dropped off the package by the door at the address I have not been living for years (I found out about it by pure accident when one of the neighbors who happened to know me told me about some package several weeks later) but the item they sued me for was not even mine. I had filed an Identity Theft report and two police reports of stolen identity. I have notified all credit bureaus. I also notified the creditor in writing that I had an extensive fraud on my account and the item was not mine. I told them that the default judgment they obtained was illegal. The item was removed from all credit bureaus, and so was the judgment after all.
      My question is, what happened to the judgment after it was removed from my credit report by all 3 bureaus? Would it still show on other public records? (I never contacted the Court that issued it). Can the creditor still go after me?
      Ps. I am in California

      • Jeanine Skowronski

        You may want to consult a consumer attorney to see if there is anything you have to do to get the judgement reversed in the court system.

        Thank you,


      • http://www.ctbankruptcy.com Eugene Melchionne

        Until a Judge says you don;t have a judgment against you, you still owe that judgment. All of the steps you took were good, but none of them involve the court so you would need to go to the court to have it removed. This is another good example of why it helps to consult with a qualified attorney.

    • Candy

      I have an old car debt I got judgement against me in 2005. This isn’t on my credit now but I still receive letters saying I owe. The other person on the loan filed bankruptcy for their responsibility. Can I get my wages garnished over this?

      • Jeanine Skowronski

        You can have your wages garnished if the creditor files for (and receives) a judgement from the court against you. As such, it can sometimes be beneficial to try to work out a payment plan with a creditor before that adverse action takes place.

        Thank you,


        • Gene Melchionne

          It depends on how long your state allows judgments to live. For example in Connecticut, a Superior Corut judgment is good for 20 years and can be renewed for another 20. It may be less in your state and depending on which court entered it. Small claims judgments usually stay valid for less time.

    • Ericka Gómez

      I had a judgement on 02/20/2014 and it was paid on 05/19/2014 by my then car insurance. The case was closed, it never showed on my credit report until 08/12/2015 just saying Updated: 08/12/2015. I did some research and I’ve found out that courts do not report to the credit bureau. Now, if it was paid within the 90 days and closed, how did it end up on my credit report more than a year later? Can I get it removed? Is this a mistake? Or what?

      I’d really appreciate some advise,

      • Jeanine Skowronski

        Hi, Ericka,

        Public records, including judgements, can wind up getting reported to the credit bureaus. Generally, negative information can take 7 years to age off of a credit report completely, though the effects will lessen over time. Some newer credit scoring models do ignore paid collections.

        Thank you,


        • Gene Melchionne

          However, if the judgment was paid, you can get a Satisfaction of Judgment form the Court system that entered it showing the judgment is paid and have your credit report corrected to read appropriately.

    • Michael

      I have a judgment on my credit repor, however, the original creditor is no longer on my credit report. Can I get the judgment removed if the is no record of the original creditor ? Thanks

      • Jeanine Skowronski

        Hi, Michael,

        The judgement may be pulled from public record. The debt may no longer be owed to the original creditor, but a debt collector, which is why you may see a difference in the reporting. They generally take seven years to age off of your credit report completely.

        Thank you,


        • Gene Melchionne

          Of course, if the judgment was paid, then you can have your credit report changed to reflect that.

    • Bella

      I have a judgement on my credit report from 2009 for a vehicle that my ex-husband was suppose to be responsible for as ordered by a judge and stated on our divorce decree. He was joint on the loan. It states on my credit report that it is scheduled to be removed in 2016. Once removed will it ever come back? I looked online at the court house and the case against me has been closed.Does he have a judgement on his credit as well? Is there anything I can do to have it removed sooner? 6 years of having this has been super stressful. I am in the state of Texas.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        If the judgment was ordered under both of your names then it’s unlikely that you are going to be able to get it removed at this late date, but the good news is that it’s due to come off next year if you can hang in there a little longer! In the meantime, make sure you have positive credit references reporting. This article explains why that is so important: The Bad Stuff Is Off My Credit Reports – So Why Didn’t My Scores Go Up?

    • lili

      Judgement has wrong name and court date on it ….
      went to court on said date no name on board asked bailiff if this was updated they said yes… they said to go …went home
      later i see judgement on credit report…
      where do i stand?

      • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

        You may want to contact a lawyer to see whether the judgment can be set aside.

    • Rachel

      March 2013 I was served papers at my home for some past due medical bills from various medical facilities using the same collection agency. I called the collection agency on the paper the very next day and spoke to the a supervisor- this is all documented. The supervisor explained to me that as long as I set up a payment agreement with her and continued to make payments I did not need to do anything. Not knowing what I know now I took her word, I knew nothing about judgments. I was in the process of paying off many old debts at this time, just setup payment plans and wasn’t asking any questions. May of 2014 I had applied for some loans and was getting denied, finally I ran one myself and there was the judgment from the collection company that told me I did not need to do anything. I was so upset and I didn’t know what to do, I also was trying to figure out funding for my daughter to go to college. August of 2014 my automatic payment did not come out so I called the collection agency and got the “this number has been disconnected and no longer in service” I tried later that day and from another phone. I looked them up online and there was nothing showing they went out of business. I called one of the original creditors and asked if they knew what I needed to do and they didn’t even know. Finally a few weeks later on the better business bureau web it stated the company ceased operations and all accounts went to the creditors. Not knowing what to do I wrote a letter to the judge that approved the judgment and he set up a court date, we basically discussed my concerns. The attorney for the collection company was there as well. When the judge asked how much I had paid and how much the attorney showed I had paid it was off by over $800. The attorney did not have any records except for a select few that was given to him. I was also asking for the the judgment be set aside because I was lied to, also there were medical bills for my husband prior to us getting married and were from 2000!. The majority of the judgment was for my husband (now ex), I know I am still responsible. This judgment was only applied to me and not my husband at the time. When calling the original creditors to find out balances, they have never received a payment from the collection agency and now if the judge does not release me from this judgment I will have to keep paying on this judgment and pay some of these bills twice!!. I have my bank records for proof of payment to the collection agency but nothing as to where the payments were being applied to. I can not afford an attorney and I do not qualify for legal aid because I make too much money… I have no idea what to do. (sorry for such long email)

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        You said that you appeared before the court–what was the judge’s decision? Where do you live?

        • Rachel

          The judge has not made any decisions yet. I live in Iowa.

          • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

            It sounds to me like you have to wait for the judge’s decision. Short of talking with an attorney which doesn’t sound like an option, I am not sure what else I could recommend.

            • Rachel

              Can the original creditor do anything about it? such as ask the attorney to release the account, then if the account is released back there wouldn’t be anything for a judgment??

            • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

              I’m afraid I don’t know since the matter is now with the courts.

            • http://www.ctbankruptcy.com Eugene Melchionne

              There are several lessons to be learned here. First, do not take anyone’s word for anything. Get everything I writing and communicate I writing. That is the only documentation for any agreement. I will bet anything that the collector would not put in writing what you were told over the phone.

              Second, DO NOT IGNORE COURT PROCEEDINGS OF ANY TYPE. Only bye participating in the process can you be sure of anything. Yo did the correct thing u going to the Court ultimately, but it ma be too little too late. When going to court, insist that the attorney not be the one to testify about hot debt, The only legitimate proof is from the person who ones the debt.

              Third, once the debt has been sold, the original creditor has no input into anything. They will have no records and no ability to say anything about wha you owe. Only the current owner of the debt has any interest. The problem with your case is ® find out who CURRENTLY owns the debt. That might be one of the creditors of the collection agency. If you could locate that entity, you might be able to make a deal that results in a satisfaction of judgment. Their attorney would be able to appear in the lawsuit and file the papers to satisfy the debt. Then the judgment could be released from your credit report.



      • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts
      • Guest Kne

        I’m having same issue with Portfolio Recovery. The OC reported as a charge off with a balance and PR reported it with a past due and a judgment was filed, which is not online with public record but the bureau said it was verified. Please advise how to handle

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          Honestly, I am not sure because it’s not adding up – a judgment but no judgment? I’d suggest either filing a complaint with the CFPB or talking with a consumer law attorney with experience in debt collection cases.

    • Tasha Yanique Spicer

      I have a question, I received had a judgement against my in the amount of 865 dollars for breach of contract but it was reported to Equifax that I owe ten thousand dollars for said breach. I wrote to the collection agency and Equifax along with proof showing that the amount reported was grossly incorrect but they did not correct the issue. Equifax just added a dispute to the file and the collection agency completely ignored my information altogether. I don’t know what else to do to get this information corrected, this has greatly impacted my credit and I’d like some info on how to fix this issue.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        You have two choices when you dispute something that is wrong and it is not corrected. You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or you can talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in credit report dispute cases. (You can find one through the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the first consultation is usually free.)

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