Length of Time Since Derogatory Public Record or Collection is Too Short

Judgments can do more than crimp your bank account (levies) or paycheck (garnishments). They can also show up on your credit report and prevent you from getting new credit. Collection agencies can also show up, resulting in the credit bureau generating a code on your credit report. This code reads “length of time since derogatory public record or collection is too short.”

“Length of Time Since Derogatory Public Record or Collection is Too Short” Credit Score Risk Factor Codes
Equifax 20
Experian 20
TransUnion 20
NextGen K1

When you have had serious defaults on credit accounts, the information reported to the credit bureaus can drastically reduce your scores. Furthermore, it can prevent approval for new credit accounts. Payment history controls 35% of your credit scores, and this risk factor is a major contributor to payment history.

When lenders are evaluating your credit application, they want to see that you are a low credit risk. They may be willing to accept higher credit risk applicants, but they prefer to see improvements in your credit history.

If your credit report reflects collection accounts and legal action from 5 years ago, it might be overlooked by a lender if you have been current on all of your other accounts since then. However, if they see that you have judgments and collection activity from 3 months ago, you are clearly still dealing with major financial problems.

Those derogatory records can prevent you from loan approval for a couple of reasons. First, the lender is not convinced that you have recovered from those financial struggles. They think that you will also struggle to repay your new account if it is approved.

Second, lenders know that even if a collection agency has not pursued legal action, they could do so in the future. As long as the statute of limitations has not expired, that creditor could still file for a judgment. A judgment could impair your ability to pay your other debts, which is enough to keep you from getting a new account approved.

For this risk code, the best remedy is to avoid having any of your other accounts result in a collection account or judgment. You will need for enough time to pass for the code to go away on its own.

Fair Isaac and the three main credit bureaus are not specific on how much time must pass before this code will drop off. We can speculate that you will need a minimum of 2 years of judgment/collection free time before it will pass. It is of course possible that more time is needed, so you should plan accordingly if you have goals that require new credit accounts in the future.

If you have had a derogatory public record or collection account and not enough time has passed, you should avoid opening any new credit accounts for a while. You can still improve your score by focusing on some of the other risk factors that might be lowering your credit scores.


Length of time since derogatory public record or collection is too short is credit bureau risk score reason 20. It is NextGen score code K1. For more information on credit scoring, see the complete list of credit score factors.

Kenneth Long
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Kenneth Long

President at Debtors Unite
Kenneth Long is President of Debtors Unite, Inc. as well as President and Vice Chairman for Vision Credit Education, Inc. He served as a regional coordinator for the North Carolina Saves campaign. Long co-founded the Wake EITC Coalition along with Family Resource Center of Raleigh.

Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.

Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.

In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.

Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!

Favorite quote:

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson
Kenneth Long
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