Beware of Re-Aging on Your Credit Report

Have you taken a look at your credit report lately? If not, you should. Statistics show that 79 percent of all credit reports contain at least one error, and as many as 25 percent of credit reports contain serious errors that could cause a person to be denied credit. Just like with your health, the key to preventing credit disasters is early detection.

The sooner you find out there’s a potentially harmful error on your credit report, the sooner you can take steps to fix it and prevent things from getting worse. One of the most common errors plaguing credit reports these days has to do with debt collectors inappropriately re-aging debt.

Re-aging is exactly what it sounds like: it’s when a creditor inaccurately reports what’s known as the “date of first delinquency” for an account on your credit report. The date of first delinquency, as you may have guessed, is the first date on which a consumer missed a payment on the account. Re-aging debt is a big deal because it re-starts the period of time (seven years under the Fair Credit Reporting Act) that the account in question is allowed to remain on your credit report.

Obviously, if an account is impacting your credit negatively, you don’t want it hanging around any longer than necessary. Often, credit reports can be confusing. There’s a lot of seemingly random numeric information combined with codes and abbreviations that usually make sense only to the credit reporting agencies themselves. There may be multiple dates associated with anyone's account, such as the date the account is opened, the date the information was reported, the last date on which there was account activity, etc. Most of those dates will change.

The relevant characteristic of the date of first delinquency is that it never changes--or rather, it’s never supposed to change. It’s not uncommon for debt collectors to re-age the date of first delinquency to strong-arm a consumer into settling the account. Re-aging an account for that purpose is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, for which a consumer can file suit and potentially get monetary damages.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act also says that credit reporting agencies must each provide you with a free copy of your credit report upon request once every twelve months. If you haven’t seen your credit report in a while, take advantage of this provision of the FCRA and get yourself a free copy to review. If you suspect any of your debt has been re-aged improperly, see an experienced consumer litigation attorney right away.

If there’s a problem with your credit report, waiting to do something about it will only make it worse!