One of the most frequent questions/complaints we receive in our practice is related to debts that are over seven years of age being sold to a collector or debt buyer and then the new collector/debt buyer puts the date of the account as six months ago. This means it will stay on the client’s credit report for another six or seven years. In the collection business this is known as “re-aging” the account.
Why would a collector do this? Because they think this is accuarate? Not a chance. It is simply done out of malice in an attempt to force the consumer to pay the bill to get it off the credit report. Credit scoring typically gives more meaning to recent events than events five years ago. So, if you suddenly get a $300 collection account from say AFNI dated last month, this will normally be devastating to your credit score. Having a recent open collection account can prevent you from closing certain types of mortgage loans. The solution – pay it off. Wait a minute – that’s what they want you to do! So….
Dispute it through the credit bureaus and send a copy to the collector saying I dispute this account and they way you are reporting it as it is over seven years old. Send everything certified mail keeping a signed copy.
If it gets removed, then great. If not, contact a lawyer about suing the responsible parties. The only way for collectors who follow this unethical business practice to be encouraged to stop is to inflict pain on them through federal and state law. If a business does this intentionally, they certainly aren’t going to stop just because they are nice guys – they aren’t!
Update – click here for a summary of the largest fine for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It was several years ago against NCO for re aging accounts.
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