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<< I have had some credit problems in the past (5 to 6 1/2 years ago), and have long
since "cleaned up my act", but am curious about exactly how long the negative
information will stay on my credit report. I know 7 years, but is it 7 years from
the delinquency date, or 7 years from when the item was paid off????
Any help in this area would be greatly appreciated.>>

I had the same problem. I called the credit granting companies and asked them when would my negative information be deleted from my credit report. They told me when It should be deleted, then I requested they send it to me in writing. I'm not sure if everybody will do this, but it surely something you can try.
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