Is Re-Aging Common On Credit Reports?

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The world of consumer credit is filled with terms and phrases that are uncommon elsewhere. One such phrase is “re-aging.” Re-aging occurs when a certain date on a negative account is changed to be more current. The practical impact is this re-aging will cause the negative information to remain on a credit report longer than is allowed by law. So the question is, is re-aging common on credit reports?

Negative Information

No one likes to find negative information on their credit report. Late payments, collections, defaults, bankruptcies, and the like can all cause you to have lower credit scores. But you can take some comfort in the fact that past credit problems have a time limit. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) makes the credit reporting agencies remove negative information from your credit reports after 7 to 10 years.

Re-Aging’s Impact on Deletions

The credit bureaus know when derogatory information has to be removed from your credit reports by tracking the so-called “anchor date” on those accounts. This anchor date, also called the “purge from” date, is tied to the date of first delinquency on the original negative account that immediately preceded the default. This is the date from which the 7 year credit reporting clock begins ticking.

Imagine that you have a collection accounts on your credit reports. The credit bureaus must purge these accounts by no later than 7 years from date the original account became delinquent leading to default. The official and formal name of date is the “FCRA Compliance Date of First Delinquency” or “DoFD.”

When a collection agency asks a credit bureau to add a collection to your credit report, the collection agency must share the DoFD with the credit bureau. If they do not then the credit bureau won’t know when the 7 years has elapsed.

If a debt collector or lender incorrectly reports to a credit bureau that a negative account has a more recent DoFD than is true, this is re-aging as it will cause the account to remain on a credit report longer than 7 years. This example and definition of re-aging is the one and ONLY definition of the term as it pertains to credit reporting. The Federal Trade Commission, National Consumer Law Center, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Consumers Union all agree that this is the definition of re-aging.

Can You Accidentally Re-Age Your Account?

As with all things credit, there are myths floating around the subject of re-aging negative credit information. For example, some would have you believe that simply paying a collection or some other negative entry will re-age the account. This is incorrect. You can pay an account, dispute an account, argue about an account, settle an account, or anything else you can think of. Nothing, and I mean nothing, you do can cause a negative account to stay on your credit report for longer than seven years.

How to Recognize Re-Aging

 

Re-aging is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and their various state equivalencies. If re-aging happens to you, there are several rights you may choose to exercise.

  • You can dispute the incorrect account with the appropriate credit reporting agency. The FCRA requires any item on your credit report to be accurate and verifiable. Disputing an incorrect account could potentially result in its removal from your credit report.
  • You can file a complaint. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) allows you to submit complaints about consumer financial products and services. You also reach out to your state’s attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission to seek further help.
  • You can talk to an attorney. If you can’t get a re-aged account corrected or removed from your credit report, a consumer law attorney can advise you about any additional options that may be available to you.

Before you do any of these things you are going to want to make sure that re-aging has actually occurred. If some other date on a credit report (other than the DoFD) has been changed, that is not re-aging. There are many dates on credit reports, especially those that are available to consumers via various websites, and almost all of them having nothing to do with the DoFD and cannot be re-aged.

Bottom Line

 

Authentic re-aging is illegal but is also extremely uncommon. Nonetheless, it’s wise to keep an eye on your three credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax for credit reporting mistakes, including potential re-aging of negative accounts. Federal law grants you free access to your credit reports once every 12 months via AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can use the site to check your reports weekly during the coronavirus pandemic.

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