Correction: Negative Items Are Supposed To Fall Off Credit Reports After 7 Years, No Matter What

Yesterday we erroneously reported that while chargeoffs are supposed to disappear from your report after seven years, you can get that clock reset by making payments or otherwise communicating with the creditor.

Several commenters claimed this was a myth, and a nonbinding FTC staff opinion from 2000, agrees, as does TransUnion’s Steven Katz…

(Photo: jadehalo)

Ms. Amason of San Antonio, TX asks:

2. Is the reporting period extended if (A) the original creditor sells or transfers the account to another creditor, (B) the consumer responds to post-chargeoff collection efforts by making a payment on the debt, or (C) the consumer disputes the account with a CRA? Does it matter whether the 7-year period has expired when any of these events occurs?

No. In enacting the new provisions discussed above, Congress intended to establish a date certain — 180 days after the start of the delinquency that led to the chargeoff — to begin the obsolescence period. It did so to correct the often lengthy extension of the period that resulted from later events under the original FCRA. Enclosed are two staff opinion letters (Kosmerl, 06/04/99; Johnson, 08/31/98) that discuss the impact of these provisions, and the legislative history relating to their enactment, in more detail. Because the commencement of the seven year period is now described with some precision by the statute, it is our opinion that none of the subsequent events you listed — sale of the charged off account by the creditor, or a payment on or dispute about the account by the consumer — changes the allowable period for a CRA to report a chargeoff.

Steven Katz, TransUnion (one of the major credit reporting agencies) spokesman, says:

• Most items, except for certain types of bankruptcies will remain on for 7 years.
• The 7 years will typically begin based upon the date that your payment became delinquent.
• Paying the account after a delinquency has been reported by a credit grantor will not have the impact of “resetting” the item.
• Contacting the credit grantor to dispute the item is possible and if it is determined that the item is not your responsibility, this can lead to the item being removed from your credit report.

So there you have it. For the most part, seven years is the absolute obsolescence time period. If the debt is still on your credit reports after seven years, dispute it. We did it once and it was really easy. — BEN POPKEN

FCRA Staff Opinion: Brinckerhoff-Amason []

PREVIOUSLY: Negative Items Fall Off Credit Report After Seven Year Itch, As Long As Creditors Don’t Fraudulently “Reage” Them


Edit Your Comment

  1. Katharine says:

    Okay 2 questions:

    What do you do if a company/credit reporting agency refuse to remove it?

    And does your score go up after it is removed or does it stay the same because it was there at one time?

  2. Skeptic says:

    Hmmm….I wonder if the big three all agree on this–and of course what about all the other agencies that use–and keep on record–old info?

  3. KivaWolf says:

    I have to say from experience that this is all true. Recently last year I had a few bad items on my credit report since the year 1999 and by the time the year hit 2006, all of them were off my credit report. I thought I was hallucinating when I got my credit report for the year. I double checked by getting a credit report from TransUnion and Experian and sure enough, they were gone.

  4. Seanner says:

    I’ve had a bogus credit card on my report for 9 years now. What you have to watch for is some companies sell the debt to another company, who tries to collect. If you dont pay (and I wont as this was not my debt to begin with), it defaults and it shows more than 1 time on your report. You then have to prove its owned by 2 companies before it gets removed. This one has gone thru 6 companies and 4 times I’ve had to prove that it cant be on there 2 times

  5. Scriptor says:

    DANGER! Making a payment may not re-age the item on your credit report, but it will do something far worse: it will reset the statute of limitations on a debt so that it will be easier for creditors to SUE you for the money. So, for example, say you live in a state where the statute of limitations on getting sued for bad debt is four years. If you have gone 3 years and 11 months without making a payment, and then decide to pay off a chunk of your debt to a collection agency, you’ll have to wait a whole ‘nother four years before you’ll have a statute of limitations legal defense again. If it’s been a few years since you made any payments on a debt, DO NOT PAY. Getting things off your credit report is only half of the story.

  6. ReticentEnigma says:

    I did collections for Sears for several years.
    We DID reage accounts if any payment was made, however this does not apply to charge-off’s.

    Accounts are not charged off until 7 consecutive months of non-payment.

    If the account has gone 6 1/2 months without a payment, and the minimum due is $650, and you’re tired of the collection calls, so you send in ten bucks to shut them up, you start the 7 month cycle all over again.

    All the while, the late fees, increased interest rate, and phone calls continue.

  7. snowpuff says:

    Also, be advised that some collection agencies will TRY to change the date of your delinquency, in order to keep it on your credit report. This is illegal and if you find a 10-year old debt popping back up your credit report, fight it.

    Even more interesting is that there seems to be nothing in the law to prevent a collection agency that owns your debt from pulling your credit report, even if the statute of limitations is past or even if they cannot list it on your report.

    This appears to be a strange loophole and an unfair one, since too many credit inquiries can damage your credit score and the appearance of “Bob’s Collection Agencies” on your inquiry listing is not ideal.

  8. Nextlevel says:

    When a collection agency pulls your credit, it is considered a “soft pull/inquiry” and does not effect your credit, like when you check your own credit, no effect, maybe even good things(no comment on that).

    When you apply for credit it is considered a “hard pull/inquiry” and DOES effect your score for around 6 months, then loses the negative effect gradually until 2 years, when it falls off.

  9. cashmerewhore says:


    Your score will go up when “bad” items fall off your credit report, because it’s like they didn’t happen at that point.

  10. Confused1 says:

    Can someone help?

    So … if I’ve made payments on my credit card accounts since 1999, and I have finally paid them all off, I have to wait 7-additional-years before they fall off?

    I made my last payments in Oct 2007, some were late and it shows on the report. Please don’t tell me, that now I have 7-more-years,& that I would have been better off not paying?