Negative accounts on a credit report are usually removed after 7 years; however, negative accounts pertaining to bankruptcies generally remain on the credit report for 10 years. The time starts when the account is first listed as past due, according to Equifax.
There are also time limits for how long court judgments and tax liens remain on a credit report. Paid tax liens are removed 7 years after the lien is paid off but can remain on the credit report forever if left unpaid. Other court judgments are removed 7 years after the date of the judgment regardless of the payment status.
Checking credit reports from all three credit bureaus is the only way a person can be sure these accounts are removed on time. In some cases, state statutes might alter the time limits, so checking those prior to checking the credit report is advisable.