Credit Advice

Debt cannot be returned to report after “seven year period”

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Credit Advice

Debt cannot be returned to report after “seven year period”

Dear Experian,

A nationally syndicated columnist recently wrote an article about “zombie” debt. After reading her article I had a couple of additional questions. Once the seven year period is over, can a collection agency legally put a debt back on a person’s credit report? Can a payment or even contact with this collection agency start the seven year period over again?

- VWI

Dear VWI,

Neither the collection agency nor the original creditor can legally put the debt back on your credit report after the seven year period ends, nor can they start the seven year period over again.

While best noted for allowing you to get a free credit report every 12 months, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) actually introduced a number of other new regulations that were equally important.

Among those new regulations was a requirement for collection agencies to report the original delinquency date from the first account.

The original delinquency date is the date of the first missed payment after which the account was never again current. The seven year period is measured from that date.

Requiring collection agencies to report that date helps Experian and the other national credit reporting companies ensure the first account and any subsequent collection accounts are removed at the seven year point.

Contacting the collection agency or making a payment does not change the original delinquency date and does not reset the clock. The information still must be deleted seven years from the original delinquency date.

Just because the account is deleted from your credit history doesn’t mean they have to stop trying to collect the debt, although many states have laws governing how long they can continue their collection efforts. Those time frames vary depending on the state law.

Within those time frames, collection agencies can continue to try to get you to pay as long as they feel it is worth the effort, even after the debt is deleted from your credit report.

Thanks for asking.

- The "Ask Experian" team

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