How Long Can Old Debt Remain on Credit Reports?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits credit bureaus from reporting most debts more than seven years old. The seven year clock starts ticking from the original delinquency date or date of first delinquency. This is the date after which the account was never again current.

Confusion about the date arises when the consumer brings a delinquent account current and then the account becomes delinquent a second or third time. The account will then have more than one date of first delinquency. The report of the first delinquency will remain 7 years and then fall off the reports. The report of the second and third delinquencies will run 7 years after those events. In most cases, accounts go delinquent and stay that way.

If the account is sold to a debt buyer, the 7 year calculation does not change. Some debt buyers illegally re-age accounts to keep it on the consumer’s credit reports. Victims of this practice have a valid claim for damages if their dispute letters to the credit bureaus do not get results.

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