Reporting Restrictions On Old Obsolete Credit Accounts.

If you were wondering when old, derogatory, yet accurate credit information comes off your credit report, there is good news and bad news regarding FCRA provisions that restrict the reporting of old or “obsolete” credit information on your credit file.  The good news is that the FCRA places significant restrictions on what old derogatory information may be reported on your credit file by a credit reporting agency.  The bad news is that in practice, the rules provide opportunities for unscrupulous debt collectors to “re-age” derogatory credit information, so it remains on your credit file longer than permitted by law.

With many exceptions, the general rule is that a consumer can expect to have derogatory credit accounts remain on their credit file for seven years. The date of the first delinquency determines the beginning date for calculation of the obsolescence period.  The end date for the reporting of derogatory information depends on the type of debt and circumstances surrounding the debt.  It is important to note that the date of first delinquency for the debt should not change if the debt is sold and is not altered by payment arrangements.

A credit reporting agency may report an account that is not charged off for seven years from the date of first delinquency.  An account that has been charged off or placed for collection more than 180 days after the date of first delinquency may be reported by the credit reporting agency for seven years and 180 days.  Finally, if the account is placed for collection or charged off before the expiration of 180 days from the date of first delinquency, the seven year period runs from the date of charge off or when the account is first placed for collection. Bankruptcy will remain on your credit file for 10 years, and different time periods apply for judgments, tax liens, criminal records, and certain student loans.

Sometimes a debt collector will “re-age” an old past due debt that should not otherwise appear on your credit file.  Re-aging occurs when the debt collector incorrectly reports the initial date of delinquency, commonly as the date that they acquired the debt. By reporting the account in this fashion, the seven year reporting period is improperly extended, which causes the collection account to remain on the consumer’s credit file longer than permitted.  Debt collectors like debts to remain on a consumer’s credit file because it provides them significant leverage to obtain payment on an old account.

If you are the victim of old information that should be removed from your credit report, your best recourse is to dispute the information with the credit reporting agency by informing them of the facts and circumstances supporting your position. For information on disputing inaccurate information in your credit file, please see my earlier blog post:

In addition to FCRA claims against credit reporting agencies and furnishers related to old, obsolete credit information, the re-aging of collection accounts by a debt collector may also be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Given the different rules at play regarding this topic, you should not hesitate to contact a local consumer protection lawyer.  I am located in Virginia at 571-313-0412, but I would be happy to speak with you about your situation for a potential referral to a lawyer in your area.