No matter how heavy it feels, bad credit doesn't last forever.
Even if you made a total mess of your financial life at one point, after a certain amount of time, most of those financial mistakes will be expunged from your credit report.
For unpaid or delinquent accounts, the time period is seven years. For Chapter 7 bankruptcies, it's 10 years.
To prevent mistakes, credit bureaus often err on the side of removing bad information a little early, says Norm Magnuson, vice president of public affairs for the Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade association for credit reporting companies.
For delinquencies, "most of the (bureaus) are set up to automatically delete the data at six years nine months, or somewhere around there," he says.
However, negative debts don't always disappear on schedule. Misunderstandings or errors can result in a debt overstaying its welcome on your credit report.
If old debt is still haunting your credit report, you don't have to live with it. Here are eight steps to get it off your credit report and out of your life.