Can You Restart the Seven Year Clock?

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When you’re working to improve your credit, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake and set back your progress. It’s also, however, counterproductive to operate under incorrect assumptions. If you’re waiting for negative information to “age” off of your credit reports you might be under the impression that can restart the clock, accidentally. So it’s time to set the record straight by answering this common question, can you restart the seven year clock?

The Credit Reporting Timeline

One of the primary functions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, is to ensure fairness and accuracy in credit reporting. One way the FCRA protects you is by limiting the amount of time that most negative entries are permitted to stay on your credit report. Generally speaking, common negative entries can remain for 7 to 10 years, as more fully described below.

Credit Reporting Time Limits
Collection Accounts 7 years from the date the original account went delinquent leading to default
Late Payments 7 years from the date of occurrence
Repossessions, Foreclosures, and Charge offs 7 years from the date of the original delinquency preceding the default
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 10 years from the date filed
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy 7 years from the date of discharge, but not to exceed 10 years*

*While the FCRA allows Chapter 13 bankruptcies to remain for up to 10 years, the credit bureaus delete them 7 years from the filing date as a matter of policy.

Can You Accidentally Restart the Credit Reporting Clock?

 

When you’re researching the subject of credit and credit improvement strategies, you’re bound to come across some unreliable information. That’s why it’s critical to only follow credit advice that you receive from reputable sources. One of the more stubborn credit myths in circulation is this concept that you can accidentally do something that will give a creditor or collection agency the right to keep a negative item on your credit reports longer than 7 years. Thankfully, this is absolutely not true.

There is absolutely nothing you can do to cause the 7-year credit reporting clock to reset. The FCRA does not permit the creditors, debt collections, or anyone else to reset the credit reporting statute of limitations on a negative account, except if it’s being incorrectly reported and is simply being corrected.

More specifically, none of the following actions can cause a negative item to stay on your credit report longer than 7 years (10 years in the case of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy):

  • Disputing a collection account or any other negative item
  • Talking to a collection agency or creditor over the phone
  • Paying or settling a derogatory account
  • The sale of a defaulted debt to a new 3rd party debt collector
  • Anything else you can think of

It is true that a creditor or debt collector might opt to sue you for an unpaid debt. But the time limits that govern how long you can be sued differ from the credit reporting time limit. The limits for credit reporting a collection account are never any longer than 7 years. You might be sued long after the collection has been deleted, but even then, it cannot reappear on your credit reports.

What Can You Do About Accounts That Stay on Your Credit Reports Too Long?

 

It’s not legal for a negative item to stay on your credit reports longer than the FCRA allows. Yet it’s not unheard of for outdated information to appear on a credit report. This is precisely why the FCRA exists. If you believe an account has been on your credit reports for too long, the FCRA empowers you to dispute it with the credit reporting agencies and get it corrected. And in this context, “corrected” means deleted, permanently.

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