Negative items on credit reports can completely tank a credit score. Negative items are items such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, judgments, late payments, and liens. If you have judgments or collections on your credit report, it is very likely that your credit score will be adversely affected for anywhere from five to seven years. Companies like the lexington law firm specialize in removing these accounts, but you can also attempt to negotiate directly with the companies if you choose. Some companies will allow you to pay off a portion of your balance in exchange for removing the black mark on your credit report.