When negative information in a consumer report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. Accurate negative information can generally stay on a consumer report for seven years. However, bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years. Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.
Credit counseling services can assist consumers. Some of these services contact creditors and attempt to consolidate debts, putting together repayment plans. Most of these businesses are non-profit agencies that charge small or even no fees to provide credit counseling. Other for-profit organizations sometimes advise consumers to apply for new employee ID numbers, and then use them instead of their Social Security numbers to apply for more credit. Using an identification number in order to defraud creditors, however, may constitute criminal activity.