Credit card issuers have the ability to bring your account current and wipe out your entire record of late payments using a procedure called “re-aging”. Re-aging, if managed properly, can be a fantastic credit repair tool. The re-aging guidelines were set by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) in June of 2000 for the purpose of helping “borrowers overcome temporary financial difficulties, such as loss of job, medical emergency, or change in family circumstances like loss of a family member”.
The Policy Background
The FFIEC is a formal interagency body empowered by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and others, to prescribe principles and standards in the supervision of financial institutions. The re-aging guidelines are observed by all credit card issuers with the understanding that they can take a more “conservative” stance at their discretion. Credit Unions did not opt to adopt this policy, but if you have a credit card with a credit union it does not hurt to ask if they have a re-aging policy.
Some Plain English
It sounds great so far! But how does it work? Re-aging is defined as “returning a delinquent, open-end account to current status without collecting the total amount of principle, interest, and fees that are contractually due”. And it means what it says. If you meet certain, very reasonable, guidelines your credit card issuer will wipe out your bad credit. What are those guidelines?
Nuts and Bolts
There are a few basic rules. The account has to have existed for at least 9 months, you have to offer to make three on-time payments or an equivalent lump sum payment before the re-aging will be finalized, you cannot re-age an account more than one time in any 12 month period and no more than 2 times in any 5 year period. Working on credit repair? Please note that there is no limit on the number of accounts that you can re-age. But I suggest you complete one effort first to get comfortable.
Your Part of the Deal
Just so you understand, this process is designed for cardholders that have a renewed willingness and ability to make payments in a timely manner. Like any credit repair effort there is no point if you fall behind again. It is also designed for cardholders that have experienced a financial hardship. Remember the list of hardships that constitute acceptable causes of past financial problems: loss of job, medical emergency, and change in family circumstances like loss of a family member. There may be other equally acceptable events. But since the re-aging process is taken seriously you should not expect that your request be honored if you say that you just didn’t want to pay your bills!
Are you ready to get started? Call the credit card issuer and ask them to explain their re-aging policy. Some issuers use the term, “curing”. If the person on the phone does not know what you are talking about you should ask for a supervisor. You will want to organize your thoughts in advance. Remember that you need to communicate the reasons for your past delinquency and your renewed willingness and ability to pay on time from now on.
Re-aging deals can differ from one issuer to the next. You will want to make sure that all derogatory information will be deleted from your account. It is also a good idea to get the details in writing. Anyone who has made a credit repair effort knows that verbal agreements with creditors have a pretty poor record of success. If they won’t put it in writing, at least take careful notes including the name and direct phone number of the person that you are speaking with.
Removing derogatory information from your credit is a great thing. It is the goal of every credit repair effort. But it is important to keep your FICO score in mind as well. If the issuer resets the opening date on your account when they remove your derogatory information you may lose points, depending on the number and age of other accounts on your report. Ask the issuers specifically if they will reset the open date. Some do and some don’t. If they will, you’ll want to consider the impact on your scores. FICO loves old accounts. If you have plenty of accounts with many years of history there is no problem. But if your credit is young and limited resetting an older account could be a set back, at least temporarily.