Can a Collection Agency Change an Account’s Open Date?

Can a Collection Agency Change an Account’s Open Date? article image.

If you fail to repay a debt and your lender sells that debt to a collection agency, you can end up with two negative entries in your credit report—one for the original debt, and one for the collection account.

The open date for a collection account may be months or even years after the original debt's charge-off: It's the date the debt is transferred from the original creditor to the collection agency. This can make it seem as if an old mistake is returning to haunt you, but it may come as some relief to know that all collection entries related to the same debt share their expiration with the original debt. In other words, the open date on a collection entry does not determine how long it stays on your credit report.

When Is a Collection Account Removed?

The charge-off entry and any collection entry related to that debt will expire and disappear or "drop off" your credit report seven years from the first missed payment that led to the charge-off.

Can a Collection Agency Report an Old Debt as New?

The open date for a collection account is always going to be more recent than the date the original debt was charged off, but lenders and others reviewing your credit report will know that that new collection entries are related to older debts.

It's even possible for a single debt, if uncollected, to lead to more than one collection entry on your credit report. A collection agency that's unsuccessful getting a payment from you can re-sell the debt to another collection agency. If that occurs, you'll see yet another collection entry appear on your credit report, with an even newer open date than the first one.

While the open dates for these collections will vary, they all must retain the delinquency date connected to the original charge-off. The charge-off and all collection entries related to it will disappear from your credit report seven years from that original delinquency date.

Negative entries in your credit report are never welcome, but it may come as some relief to know that a collection entry (or even multiple entries) related to a given charged-off debt will expire at the same time as the original charge-off, no matter what the open date is on the collection accounts.

The purpose of this question submission tool is to provide general education on credit reporting. The Ask Experian team cannot respond to each question individually. However, if your question is of interest to a wide audience of consumers, the Experian team may include it in a future post and may also share responses in its social media outreach. If you have a question, others likely have the same question, too. By sharing your questions and our answers, we can help others as well.

Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask Experian. To dispute information in your personal credit report, simply follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report includes appropriate contact information including a website address, toll-free telephone number and mailing address.

To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through December 31, 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.