How Long Do Repos Stay on Your Credit?

Curious to know how a repossession affects your credit score, and how can you work on building it back up? Here's what to understand.


Article QuickTakes:

Vehicle repossessions (repos) generally result from falling behind on your car payments and can severely impact your credit, as well as your ability to get a loan in the future. How long do repos stay on your credit exactly? The answer is seven years, starting on the date you stopped paying the loan.

Having a repossession on your credit report can decrease your credit score by approximately 100 points or more. Keep in mind that someone with a FICO credit score of 669 or below is considered to be a subprime borrower, while an exceptional credit score is above 800.

The single most important factor when it comes to calculating your credit score is your payment history—accounting for 35% of your FICO score. Every missed monthly payment leading up to the vehicle's repossession will show up on your credit report, and the impact on your credit score could be substantial.

Thus in the event you were unable to avoid a repossession, you might be wondering if it's possible to dispute or remove it from your credit history, and what you can do to improve your credit afterward. Here are the key takeaways.

Can You Dispute a Repossession?

As a borrower, you can dispute any item on your credit report that you believe is incorrect, including a repossession.

Start by pulling a free annual copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—and examine them carefully to make sure all the information is correct. This includes all the account numbers, balances, dates, and payment terms. If any of this information is incorrect, you can contact the credit bureau where you found the inaccuracy—usually by letter or phone—and ask them to investigate the disputed information.

A credit bureau generally has 30 days to verify that the information on the report is correct. If the information is ultimately found to be incorrect, the bureau will either need to correct the data or remove the entry under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you find inaccuracies and the bureau doesn't respond to your request for an investigation into the matter, contact the Federal Trade Commission.

Can Repossessions Be Removed From a Credit Report?

In addition to disputing the repossession, you could also negotiate with the lender to pay off the balance of the loan (or the deficiency balance) in exchange for having the repo removed from your credit report. If your repossession was a result of a hardship, such as a job loss or extended illness, you could also ask the lender to remove the negative mark from your credit report as an "act of goodwill."

Neither option is easy or guaranteed, but if you find the right person with the right authority who's willing to help you, you might be able to get the repossession removed. Just be sure to get any agreement in writing.

You could also hire a professional credit repair company to help you get a repo removed from your credit report. For a monthly fee plus an upfront retainer, a credit repair company will write the letters to the credit bureaus to dispute any inaccuracies, or call the lender to negotiate an agreement to delete or modify the harmful information.

What Steps Can You Take to Improve Your Credit After a Repo?

The final option is to work on improving your credit while you wait the seven years required for removal of a repossession on your credit report. That means paying all your existing bills and loan obligations in full and on time, while only taking on new lines of credit when you can safely afford to.

Building a Better Financial Future

While it's easy to focus on the immediate questions of "how long do repos stay on your credit?" and "how does a repossession affect your credit?" after your car is repossessed, it's important to look ahead and build a better financial future.

If your repossession can be disputed and removed or resolved, that could go a long way toward securing better financing terms. Otherwise, focus on what you can do to improve your credit, including paying your current bills on time and reducing your current balances.

This site is for educational purposes only. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their opinions, products and services. Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The information presented in this article is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change. The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
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Sheryll Poe
Sheryll Poe is a journalist and freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. where she writes about the latest news and trends in the automotive, finance, retail, and technology industries. With over two decades of experience, Sheryll has bylined hundreds of stories for websites, magazines, newspapers for trade associations and business clients. When not wielding words on behalf of clients, she enjoys cooking (and eating), watching bad reality television, and traveling the world.