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Re-Aging a credit account on credit reports is illegal

Businessman pulling a clock hand backwards

When you hear the term “Re-Aging” in the context of consumer credit two very different definitions exist. This may explain why the term can be a huge source of confusion.

One type of re-aging on delinquent credit accounts is a legal positive practice that will help restore delinquent credit accounts over a period of time.

The other type of re-aging is an illegal practice that will negatively impact credit reports and scores. Illegal re-aging of a debt essentially turns back the clock on when a debt is due to drop off your credit reports.

Legal Re-Aging (Positive)

A creditor may have a process of re-aging a negative account, before it reaches the charge-off level through a mutual agreement between the creditor and account holder. Creditors may legally re-age a past due account. After a number of on-time payments a delinquent account is restored along with the account holder’s credit rating. Consumers who are granted re-aging may have suffered a temporary financial setback due to job loss or illness. It can be a positive experience to help consumers restore their credit.

Illegal Re-Aging (Negative)

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), most negative credit information can remain on your credit report for 7.5 years (7 years + 180 days) from the date of the first delinquency (DOFD). The date of the first delinquency (DOFD) is the date a consumer first became 30 days late and no further payments were made on the account from that date forward. At this stage the DOFD usually leads to a creditor charging-off the delinquent account.

The FCRA Compliance Date is the official beginning of first date of delinquency (DOFD) which cannot be changed once an account is charged-off. The 7-year clock begins 180 days from the time you FIRST missed a payment. Once a charge-off or collection account reaches seven years the credit bureaus must purge the account and it will no longer appear on future credit reports. This date from which the collection must be removed is informally referred to as the “purge from” date.

It is illegal for a creditor or collection agency to change the “purge from” date on a negative credit listing, causing it to remain on a consumer’s credit report longer than allowed by federal law.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act states:

“The 7-year period shall begin, with respect to any delinquent account that is placed for collection (internally or by referral to a third party, whichever is earlier), charged to profit and loss, or subjected to any similar action, upon the expiration of the 180-day period beginning on the date of the commencement of the delinquency which immediately preceded the collection activity; charge to profit and loss, or similar action.”

Creditors can charge-off an account 180 days after the first date you missed a payment. The date you became delinquent begins the “Aging” process and once the debt has matured 7.5 years, it must be deleted from your credit report.

Some creditors and debt collectors will report to the credit reporting agencies a more recent status date, thereby extending the negative reporting of the charged-off account. This illegal practice will hurt your credit score.

“Re-Aging” a delinquent account is a serious violation of the FCRA. Once the original creditor reports the FCRA Compliance Date to the credit reporting agencies, it is set in stone. This date cannot be changed or updated under any circumstance.

The time clock on the date the account FIRST went delinquent cannot change no matter how many times a charged-off debt is purchased, transferred or sold to collection agency. Basically, the “purge from” date NEVER changes. The charged-off account can bounce from collection agency to collection agency but according to the FCRA, the debt can only be reported for 7.5 years from the date of first delinquency (DOFD).

How to Determine Illegal Re-Aging

Get copies of your from the major three credit reporting agencies. Do not use a tri-merged credit. The actual hard copy of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies is necessary. Check each credit report for the date scheduled for removal of a negative listed item.

On the Experian report it should be a section that says “Status Details: This account is scheduled to continue on record until (date).” On the Equifax report it should be a section that says “Date of 1st Delinquency” – add 7 years to that date. On the Transunion report it should be a section that says “Estimated month and year that this item will be removed. The ORIGINAL creditor and collection agency should have approximately the same dates under those sections (sometimes there is a month or two difference).

Look at the dates reported by the original creditor and the debt collector. Are the dates in sync with the FCRA Compliance date? The removal dates of the original account and the subsequent collection account, if any, should be the same. Sometimes they are a few months apart but they should be within the same year.

If the two entries show different dates, there may be a “re-aging” issue. Check your credit reports closely to ensure accuracy.

What to do about illegal re-aging

If you believe that an account on your credit reports is not reflecting the correct “purge from” date, then you should file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies and request an immediate deletion. If the original creditor or collection agency verifies that they believe the account is being reported accurately then take your complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The complaint can be against the furnisher of information, the credit bureaus or both. Once contacted the furnisher of information or credit bureau will have to answer to the CFPB. As a last resort, you can take legal action. If you can prove it you have a substantial cause of action against the original creditor, collection agency or credit bureaus.



  1. Doug Demartini

    August 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    I recently had an old charge off debt change its last reported to a more accurate date and change from closer to open debt and I haven’t used the card in 4 years or dispute the debt even. My score dropped a 135 points. Is this considered reaging or is it allowed? Is there anyway to dispute this off?

    • Lisa Phillips

      August 24, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      Unless the date the account is due to be purged from your credit reports has been changed, re-aging has not occurred. Re-aging has to do with how long a negative account can remain on your credit reports. As long as they have not changed that date, the account has not been re-aged.

      What I suspect has caused such a tremendous drop in scores, given that nothing else has changed, is the updated last reported date along with the open status. With an open status, the delinquent amount may be negatively affecting your credit utilization (total amount owed on revolving credit accounts). Higher utilization means lower credit scores because the charge-off is negatively impacting your overall utilization.

      Once an account is charged-off it should never appear as “open.” With a charge-off the original creditor is declaring the debt to be uncollectible. It could be that the debt has gone to a collection agency and what you may be seeing is an “open” account in collection. Collection accounts are reported with an “open” status, until the debt is paid or the collection agency’s authority to seek payment is terminated.

      While the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to dispute inaccurate information, it might be somewhat difficult to dispute the current reporting because it may be accurate.

      One option would be to request the creditor to substantiate each and every fact they are reporting about the account. In other words, you would ask them to “Prove it or Delete it.” With this tactic you must be cognizant that if the debt is still within the statute of limitations, you can be sued for the unpaid amount. Plus, the account could be updated even more once you initiate a dispute, with a higher amount owed if additional fees or interests is added.

      Another option would be to settle the debt to stop the hemorrhaging to your credit score. Negotiating a pay for deletion would be the optimal solution. Unfortunately, some creditors report monthly to keep you FICO score low. The only way to stop it now, unless you are successful in a dispute, is to negotiate payment.

      • doug donato demartini

        August 28, 2017 at 9:38 am

        Thank you so much for the clarification. The debt shows charged off/wrote off profit/loss. It was sold to a debt collector but I got them removed months ago and just randomly the main creditor reopened it as charged off. Can I dispute the open status on the charge off?

        • Lisa Phillips

          August 29, 2017 at 4:43 pm

          It may be that the creditor still owns the debt. The debt may have been assigned or transferred to the collection agency, not sold. If so, the original creditor can change the charge-off status from closed to open. Creditors are allowed to report and update every month until the charge-off is deleted due to the exclusion date or if you pay the debt.

          What I suspect is occurring is that you are actively engaged in repairing your credit and your scores are increasing. One of the unintended consequences of rebuilding your credit is that when your scores and history start to look better, old creditors and even collection agencies get alerted by the credit bureaus.

          As your scores get better, an original creditor and debt collector can get alerted that your credit profile is improving, signaling that you are now able to pay an old debt. FICO produces several score models not available to the consumer. One such score model is the FICO® Collection Score that provides creditors and collectors a report on how consumers repay credit obligations and whether a consumer with prior credit blemishes is seeking new credit.

          It is quite possible that your efforts in rebuilding your credit triggered the creditor to change the charge-off status from closed to open in an attempt to get you to pay. Your better credit habits can make you a target. You can be going along just fine and boom! A creditor updates a charge-off that has not been updated for years and your credit scores take a dive. It’s purposefully done to try to get you to pay. While I’m not saying you can’t dispute the charge-off status; or, some inaccuracy within the negative listing, the creditor is within their legal right to change the status from closed to open.

          • doug donato demartini

            August 31, 2017 at 11:21 am

            Yeah you are right, my scores have went up 200 points and everything was going along great and I was leaving that charge off alone since its 5 years old and I’ve read like all your articles so I thought messing with it was trouble so I didn’t but they still reopened it and made my credit utilization look bad and my score took a huge drop off again.

            If there is legitimate reasons to dispute the charge off, should I? Like I noticed my ssn number is off by a number and it shows a past due amount thats not correct. I can see 3 errors with the reporting right now.

          • Lisa Phillips

            September 7, 2017 at 6:33 pm

            You have the right to dispute any inaccurate item on your credit reports. However, with older negatives a dispute has the possibility of opening up new collection efforts and updating the last day of activity which makes the negative item appear new. But at this point the creditor has already adversely impacted your scores by resuming monthly updates. In other words, a dispute probably would not hurt your scores any further.

  2. Leilah

    June 30, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Thank you! You helped me so much. You are the FREAKING BOMB!

    • Lisa Phillips

      July 3, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      That’s so nice of you to say and so glad the information has helped!

  3. Ken

    June 23, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you. This was an extremely informative article that answered all of the questions I had without having to go to an attorney.

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